LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — On April 29, 2022, authorities sent out an alert to the public and local media outlets saying a capital murder suspect and a jailer were missing from the Lauderdale County Detention Center.
No one could have imagined what would ensue over the next 11 days, as the nation became familiar with the faces of Casey Cole White and Vicky White when the pair led local and federal agencies on a frantic hunt.
Casey White had a history of violence, including a standoff with the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office in 2015 – at that time, Casey was wanted in two states. He was sentenced to 75 years in prison following the standoff, for burglary, robbery, kidnapping and attempted murder charges.
He was transferred to the Lauderdale County Detention Center in February 2022, as his lawyers were preparing with him for trial in connection with the 2015 murder of Connie Ridgeway. Casey confessed to the murder in 2020, claiming he was paid to kill Ridgeway. He was charged with capital murder just a few months later.
Vicky White was the Assistant Director of Corrections for the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) and had worked for LCSO for nearly two decades. She reportedly turned in her retirement paperwork and April 29, 2022 was set to be her last day. In the weeks leading up to that date, Vicky sold her home and had talked about going to visit the beach.
Though the pair was not related, it would later be revealed Casey White and Vicky White shared a “special relationship,” including 949 jailhouse phone calls while he was in Donaldson Correctional Facility.
On the morning of April 29, Vicky arrived at the Lauderdale County Detention Center and asked a deputy to prepare Casey for transfer to the courthouse. For the next 11 days, authorities tried to learn everything they could about the pair’s relationship and where they might be heading.
Friday, April 29, 9:41 a.m.
Vicky was seen on jail surveillance video leading Casey, handcuffed and in leg shackles, out of the facility under the guise of bringing him to a mental health evaluation at the courthouse a half-mile away.
The plan, according to Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton, had been for Vicky to drop Casey off at the courthouse, and then go to see a doctor because she wasn’t feeling well.
However, surveillance footage would also capture the marked patrol car, a Ford Taurus, pulling into the parking lot of a nearby shopping center eight minutes later.
Florence Police officer spotted the empty patrol car, but the significance of finding it wouldn’t be realized until over four hours later. Deputies kept trying to call Vicky, but her phone was going straight to voicemail. They realized, too, that Casey was not back from the mental health evaluation.
Singleton also confirmed that Vicky, who had worked for the department for 16 years, had turned in her retirement papers the day before she went missing.
Sheriff Singleton sends a picture in a group text message to local media contacts showing a computer screen. On that screen were the words “ALERT!! ALERT!!” followed by details about a missing corrections officer and capital murder suspect.
By 5:30 p.m., the U.S. Marshals were called in to help, along with the FBI, ATF, Secret Service and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA).
An official Blue Alert was issued at 7:27 p.m.
As the news began to spread, many became concerned for Vicky’s safety, while others wondered if she was involved in the escape. Authorities said regardless of her involvement, she could very well be in danger.
“For the first week it seemed like we were always a couple steps behind,” Singleton told News 19 while looking back on the escape one year later.
Saturday, April 30
Investigators learned the getaway car that she purchased a few days earlier – a copper-toned 2007 Ford Edge – was in the same lot the night before the escape. The hotel Vicky stayed in was within walking distance of that lot at the Florence Square shopping mall, located at 180 Cox Creek Parkway.
Vicky White, according to Singleton, had been talking about her retirement for the past three to four months, had talked about visiting the beach and had recently sold her home. Court documents show that White sold her home in Lauderdale County on April 18, 2022, for $95,550.
Sunday, May 1
Two days after the escape, the U.S. Marshals announced that they would reward up to $10,000 for any information leading to the arrest of missing Lauderdale County inmate Casey Cole White and Sheriff’s Office employee Vicky White.
Monday, May 2
Authorities announced they issued a warrant for Vicky White’s arrest for first-degree facilitating an escape during a press conference on Monday, May 2.
Tuesday, May 3
As LCSO and national agencies continued their investigation into Casey White and Vicky White, more information was coming to light and being shared with local and national media in an effort to catch the pair. Five days into the search, LCSO released jail surveillance footage showing the last time the two were seen at the county’s jail on the morning of April 29, as Vicky loaded Casey into a patrol car.
Authorities also confirmed there was a “special relationship” between Casey and Vicky. Investigators at the time learned this after speaking with inmates from the Lauderdale County Detention Center over the weekend, according to the sheriff’s office.
The US Marshals sent an official flyer on Tuesday, May 3 revealing the pair could be in an SUV. The flyer stated they were last seen on April 29 in Rogersville in a rust-colored 2007 Ford Edge with an unknown Alabama tag.
“We know she purchased it from a local used car dealer,” said Singleton at the time. “That’s been the focus of our investigation, all of our efforts, all weekend long has been to identify that vehicle.”
Law enforcement was hoping to hold onto the information a bit longer before releasing it to the public, in an effort to find the car and keep them from ditching it.
“I suspect they’re going to ditch that car, so now we’re back to square one,” Singleton said.
Sheriff Singleton announced on Wednesday, May 4 that Vicky was “no longer employed” by the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office. Though she had turned in her retirement papers prior to the escape, those papers were never finalized, but Singleton said her employment was terminated.
News 19 also learned that day the discovery of Vicky White’s patrol car in a parking lot in Florence wasn’t a coincidence. Singleton said Vicky White drove her department vehicle to work after she had already stashed the getaway car in the parking lot of a local strip mall. She then stayed at a hotel within walking distance of where the getaway car was parked.
Jail policy is an inmate with Casey White’s record is never to be escorted alone according to Singleton, but jail employees were intimidated to question their boss, Vicky White, about what she was doing. Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly said Vicky White took advantage of the opportunity.
“She really exploited her good reputation at the jail. Cause you can have all the policies in the world, yes she broke them. She knew where to exploit ’em too, using what she knew about those policies and her trustworthiness.”
Thursday, May 5
Federal officials released more detailed descriptions and photos of Casey and Vicky seven days into the search.
Photos of Casey White’s tattoos and photoshopped images of what Vicky White might look like with darker hair were given to the public in hopes it might help them be identified and found.
Friday, May 6
The copper colored Ford SUV bought by Vicky White was found on May 6 in Williamson County, Tennessee. According to the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, the vehicle was discovered over the weekend abandoned in a rural area near Smithson Road and Banner Adams Road.
The SUV was reported abandoned on April 29. At the time, it had not been linked to the escape but later Singleton did confirm that it was found before authorities even knew the pair was missing.
Governor Kay Ivey announced another reward for any information provided on the pair’s whereabouts one week after the escape. A $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Vicky White, as well as a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Casey White was offered.
“Both Casey White and Vicky White pose a major threat to the public, and they must be apprehended. I am pleased to offer this support as law enforcement works diligently to get these dangerous criminals behind bars.” said Governor Kay Ivey.
Monday, May 9
On May 9, after a quiet couple of days in the investigation, the copper Ford SUV was returned to Lauderdale County for evidence processing. That same day, more information on another vehicle used by the escaped inmate and jailer came to light and eventually led to the pair’s capture.
U.S. Marshals released photos of a 2006 Ford F-150 truck that had been abandoned at a car wash in Evansville, Indiana on May 3. The South Weinbach Avenue car wash owner said he saw a man who appeared to be Casey White get picked up by another car with a driver that looked like Vicky White.
A Cadillac Casey and Vicky were suspected to be driving was spotted near the Vanderburgh Sheriff’s Office and law enforcement officials pursued. A chase ensued involving the U.S. Marshals, FBI and Vanderburgh Deputies.
Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding said it was a short pursuit that passed a highway and went into a grassy area.
Law enforcement officials ended the chase by colliding with the Whites’ car and causing it to overturn. Wedding said after the crash Vicky White shot herself and was taken to a local hospital in serious condition. Casey White turned himself in and was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
Indiana authorities confirmed the pair had been staying at a local hotel in Evansville, which sits in close proximity to the sheriff’s office.
One Year Later: What’s Happened Since the Manhunt
Casey White was brought back to Lauderdale County on May 10, 2022 for arraignment and was transferred back to Donaldson early the following morning.
Casey was subsequently charged with felony murder, prosecutors said, because Vicky White had died while he was committing a felony, in this case – the escape from custody. He was indicted on July 12.
His defense has argued in the past that Casey White was not responsible for the death of Vicky White, as authorities in Indiana said she died by suicide.
Circuit Judge Ben Graves said the courts will hear the Vicky White case first, before the Ridgeway capital murder case.
Casey White’s felony murder trial for the death of Vicky White is currently set for June 12. The capital murder trial for the death of Ridgeway is set to begin August 14.
The national manhunt is something many, especially the Sheriff at the center of it all, may never forget. Though Singleton retired in January 2023, he said he still often gets recognized for his involvement in the case, which captured much of the nation for 11 days.
“Even to this day it’s still sort of surreal,” Singleton said. “You know, someone that you’ve worked with and had total confidence in and, you know, had total trust in, to betray you like that, it just knocks the wind out of you.”