A prison officer accused of helping an inmate break out of jail may have fled to Florida with a large amount of money, family members claim.
Prisoner Casey Cole White, 38, was shackled and handcuffed when he and Vicky White, an assistant director of corrections, left the Lauderdale County Detention Center in Florence, Alabama, on Friday morning.
Police have learned the pair, who are not related, had a "special relationship" and they have not been seen since.
A massive manhunt is underway, but bewildered relatives of Vicky White, who had worked for the sheriff’s office for 16 years, say they believe she has headed to Florida.
“She had said that she’d like to live in Florida, that’s the only thing I can think of,” her former mother-in-law, Frances White, 88, told the Daily Beast.
Francis said her daughter-in-law was frugal and could have stocked away enough money to keep her afloat for a while.
“She saved her money. I figure if she’s still got her money, she’s still got enough to live on for a while,” Ms White said.
Local publications report Vicky White sold her home for USD$95,500 just 12 days before disappearing — way below the market value for the area.
Francis, who has remained fond of her daughter-in-law decades after she divorced her son in 1991, says she’s still trying to wrap her head around what has happened.
“Everybody’s trying to figure out what made her do it,” she told the Daily Beast.
Vicky's former husband — Francis' son — died earlier this year from complications related to Parkinson’s disease.
CCTV captures last moments before disappearance
Newly-released CCTV footage shows Vicky and Casey leaving the Lauderdale County Detention Center just moments before they disappeared together.
The footage, published by local news station WAAY, shows Vicky holding the door open for a shackled Casey before leading him out to a patrol car.
She had told coworkers she was taking the 38-year-old inmate, who was awaiting trial on a capital murder case, to court for a mental health evaluation, Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said.
However, the sheriff said Casey did not have any evaluation scheduled for that day and escorting a prisoner alone was a violation of department policy.
Authorities discovered the pair were missing later that afternoon when Vicky stopped answering her phone.
Soon after, her patrol car was found abandoned in the parking lot of a shopping centre.
'Special relationship' confirmed by police
Sheriff Singleton said despite Vicky’s “unblemished record”, initial investigations appear to show she was in on the break-out, the Daily Beast reports.
“Investigators received information from inmates at the Lauderdale County Detention Center over the weekend that there was a special relationship between Director White and inmate Casey White,” the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Monday.
“That relationship has now been confirmed through our investigation by independent sources and means.”
The office did not elaborate on the nature of that relationship.
Before her disappearance, Vicky had announced her plans to retire, Sheriff Singleton said.
The day she vanished would have been her last day at work.
“This is not the Vicky White we know, by any stretch of the imagination,” he said on Monday.
Vicky’s mum, who she lived with for five weeks after selling her home, told WAAY her daughter had appeared normal in the days leading up to her disappearance.
An arrest warrant has been issued for the corrections worker on charges of permitting or allowing an escape.
Victim's warning: 'She needs to run'
A warrant has also been issued for Casey, who is already serving a 75-year prison sentence for attempted murder and other crimes.
While in prison, he had confessed to the 2015 stabbing death of a 58-year-old woman, authorities said, which caused him to be brought to the Lauderdale County jail for court proceedings.
Authorities have warned that Casey and White may be travelling in an orange Ford and should be considered armed and dangerous.
A woman testified against Casey after he attacked her in 2015 has issued a plea for Vicky to flee and contact police.
"If she is still alive, (she needs to) get the hell out. Run. Run as far as you can, and turn yourself in, and contact somebody,” the unnamed woman told WAAY.
“Like, do the right thing before you lose your life or somebody else does.”
The woman said Casey is “dangerous to everybody” around him and that her family are now hiding in fear as he roams free.
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