Vehicle found in search for missing Alabama inmate and corrections officer
By Elizabeth Wolfe, Ryan Young, Jaide Timm-Garcia and Paradise Afshar, CNN
(CNN) -- The escape vehicle used by Vicky White and Casey White, the missing former Alabama corrections officer and inmate, has been found, the US Marshals office said.
The orange 2007 Ford Edge SUV was found in a tow lot in Williamson County, Tennessee, about two hours north of Florence, Alabama, where the fugitive investigation began April 29.
But the vehicle had initially been found in the woods near that area last Friday afternoon, Williamson County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Sharon Puckett told CNN. Puckett said the sheriff's office had responded at the time to an abandoned vehicle and the car was found locked, with no tags and no identifying information, and towed to a local tow yard.
The new information means the couple likely abandoned their vehicle less than four hours after they left Florence, Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said during a news conference Friday.
They may have had mechanical problems, the sheriff said, "because it was abandoned pretty much out in the middle of nowhere."
"We know now where the car is, we know what direction they went. Right now we're trying to canvass the area for any witnesses," the sheriff said. Authorities are also trying to determine if any vehicles were reported stolen in the area.
"We're sort of back to square one as far as a vehicle description," the sheriff added.
A day earlier, authorities released new information that may help the public identify the pair. Image renderings by the Marshals Service show what corrections officer Vicky White, 56, who was blonde when she disappeared a week ago, would look like if she altered her appearance to have darker hair or a shorter hairstyle.
Other photos show inmate Casey White's distinctive tattoos; he is 38. The two are not related.
To help the public identify the pair, the Marshals Service also released an image showing the height difference between the two, as well as their height compared to the Ford Edge SUV.
The "subjects should be considered dangerous and may be armed with an AR-15 rifle, handguns and a shotgun," the agency said Thursday, adding there is a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the location of the officer and $10,000 for information leading to the capture of the inmate. On Friday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey also announced rewards of $5,000 each for information leading up to the capture and arrest of the inmate and the officer, saying they pose a "major threat" to the public.
Casey White in 2015 threatened to kill his ex-girlfriend and her sister and said he wanted police to kill him, the Marshals Service said. Authorities have advised his "potential targets" about his escape and the threats against them and have taken "appropriate protective actions," the agency said.
Investigators are frantically pursuing hundreds of tips from the public, some of which, they say, may have potential. More than 200 tips have come into the Marshals Service since Tuesday from across the country, said Chad Hunt, commander of its Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force.
"We're seeing stuff coming in from the Northwest down to the Southwest to the Northeast and everything in between ... and we have to look at every single one because it's going to be that one small tip that we think might be irrelevant that really kind of breaks the case open," Hunt told CNN Thursday.
This investigation is unique, he said, because Vicky White helped the inmate escape.
"We were several hours behind. It wasn't a typical over-the-wall escape, so our investigation does look a little different than a typical manhunt where somebody jumped the fence," Hunt said.
Investigators are "following up on (tips) as aggressively as we can," Singleton told CNN on Thursday. "Some of them do look promising, but it takes a time to follow through on those things. We're hoping that one of them will pan out for us, and we'll be able to locate them."
On the run for a week
Authorities continue to emphasize Casey White should be considered "extremely dangerous." He was in the Lauderdale County jail awaiting trial for the capital murder charges against him and was also serving a 75-year sentence for a series of crimes committed in 2015.
The officer and inmate left the Lauderdale County Detention Center on April 29 and have been on the run ever since. The pair may have had a romantic relationship and believe Vicky White likely willingly assisted in the inmate's escape, authorities have discovered during the week's investigation.
There is an active warrant out for the officer's arrest on charges of permitting or facilitating escape in the first degree. She is also no longer employed as assistant director of corrections by the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office, the office said in a statement Wednesday. While she was set to retire April 29, her papers were never finalized, he said.
Not 'the Vicky White we know,' sheriff says
Singleton has described the officer as an "exemplary employee" who had the respect of her colleagues and "an unblemished record." The sheriff could not provide a reason why the officer allegedly aided the escape, saying the behavior isn't "the Vicky White we know."
The officer had made some significant financial decisions leading up to April 29, including selling her home for well under market value. The house sold for $95,550, documents show, but county records list the current total parcel value of the property at $235,600.
Vicky White and Casey White's relationship can be traced to 2020, when the inmate was taken to Lauderdale County for arraignment on murder charges, according to the sheriff.
The pair had a "special relationship" that was confirmed, in part, by other inmates who told authorities Casey White "was getting extra food on his trays" and "was getting privileges no one else got. And this was all coming from her," Singleton said.
The pair kept communicating after Casey White was transferred back to the state prison, the sheriff said. Casey White returned to the Lauderdale County Detention Facility in February to attend court hearings in his capital murder case.
Then, on the morning of April 29, authorities say Vicky White asked that Casey White be prepared for transport. She said she would take him to the courthouse by herself, which was a violation of the department's policy requiring inmates be accompanied by two sworn deputies at all times, Singleton said.
Investigators have determined the two then drove to a shopping center parking lot, ditched the officer's patrol car and drove off in an orange or copper-colored 2007 Ford Edge SUV with minor damage to the rear left bumper, the Marshals Service said, noting it is not known whether the car has a license plate and what its number could be.
Investigators believe Vicky White purchased the escape vehicle in Rogersville, in Lauderdale County, and staged it in the parking lot the night before the pair fled, according to Singleton. It is likely they have since ditched the escape car because the description has been widely shared, he said.
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