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Book excerpt: Manhunt: The Search for Vicky and Casey White: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

On the brink of her retirement from corrections, Vicky White aided convicted felon Casey White’s escape, resulting in an 11-day manhunt and her suicide upon capture

Casey White

On the brink of her retirement from corrections, Vicky White facilitated the escape of convicted felon Casey White

Photo/U.S. Marshals Service, Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office via AP

Editor’s note: The following is excerpted from “Manhunt: The Search for Vicky and Casey White: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly” by Sheriff Rick Singleton. Click here to order. On April 29, 2022, Vicky White, a 16-year veteran and assistant administrator at the Lauderdale County Detention Center in Alabama, facilitated the escape of convicted felon Casey White, who was serving 75 years and awaiting trial for capital murder. Their escape lasted 11 days, gaining international media attention. This is the story of the escape as shared by Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton.

Chapter 9: Friday, April 29

April the 29 didn’t start out as a typical day at the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office and it certainly didn’t end that way. It was Friday and there was a lot going on. Lieutenant Joe Hamilton was out of the office on the campaign trail. He was running for sheriff as I had announced back in the Fall that I would not be seeking a third term. Chief Deputy Richard Richey and I left shortly after 8:00 a. m. headed to Birmingham, Alabama to attend the academy graduation for our newest deputy. All was good on the home front. Vicky checked out of the hotel and reported to work as usual.


It was a busy day at the detention center. Fridays are hit-and-miss depending on the court dockets. Today was one of those “hits.” Assistant Director Vicky White had been talking about retirement for the past few months, and the day before, she filled out her retirement papers. The 29 was to be her last day at work. The sudden announcement caught her co-workers off guard so one of them rushed to Walmart to buy her a retirement cake and flowers. They threw together a quick retirement reception as a send-off but later reported that Vicky seemed “out of place.” They assumed it was because this was to be her last day at work. She told them she wasn’t feeling well, cut the cake, and left the breakroom without eating.

The district court had requested a dozen inmates be brought before the judge for various hearings that morning, so there was a lot of hustle and bustle going on around the DC, especially in the booking area. Two van loads of inmates, one transporting five inmates and the other seven, each with two transport deputies, departed for the courthouse just before 9:00 a.m. leaving a skeleton crew at the detention center. With a staff of forty-two corrections deputies, we had eleven openings on June 29.

The short ride to the courthouse, which is just five blocks away, only takes a few minutes. Not long after the second van left Assistant Director White instructed one of the newer corrections deputies to prepare inmate Casey White for transport. This meant that he was to be taken to the booking area, handcuffed, and leg shackles applied with a “rabbit” chain and/or waist chain attached. The deputy complied and placed inmate White on a bench on the far side of the booking room. The booking room had been remodeled a few months earlier to make room for a body scanner that was installed, and, as a result, the area where Casey White was placed was not in view of any security camera. Shortly afterwards, AD Vicky White came into the booking room and told the booking officer that she had an inmate that needed to go to the courthouse for a court-ordered appointment and that since all the armed transport officers were already at the courthouse, she was going to drop him off and turn him over to them. She went on to say that, after she dropped him off, she was going to Med Plus to get checked out because she didn’t feel well. She then backed her car into the sally port, entered the booking area, led Casey White out to the waiting patrol car, and drove away.

At 10:18 a.m. Director of Corrections, Jason Butler, texted Vicky asking her to “come up front,” meaning the administrative offices. He needed to inform her that she needed to go to the personnel office to complete her paperwork concerning her retirement. When she didn’t respond he texted her again at 10:48 a.m. stating that he “assumed” she was still in court but that he needed to see her before she left for the day. He learned that she had supposedly gone to Med Plus so at 11:59 a.m., he texted her once again, stating “Just found out you left sick. Hope you feel better.” By now, all inmates who had been transported to court that morning had been returned to the detention center, and deputies were handing out lunch trays. At this time, they noticed inmate Casey White had not been returned to the DC and this was reported to the shift sergeant. The sergeant began inquiring if anyone knew why Casey White had not returned with the other inmates. One of the officers she checked with was the booking sergeant who, at that time, wasn’t aware he had not returned. The Booking Sergeant immediately began making phone calls to the courthouse and other corrections deputies who were working that morning to see if they knew where inmate White was. At the same time, she began trying to call Vicky White, but her calls went straight to voicemail. As time went on, she became increasingly concerned, and at approximately 3:30 p.m. she notified Assistant Director Missy Smith of the situation. AD Smith in turn notified Lt. Matt Horton of the missing deputy and inmate.

The two-hour drive to Birmingham was uneventful. The chief and I talked about different things, our new deputy, staffing, the upcoming sheriff’s race, and more. When we arrived at the academy, we met the new deputy’s family. His parents had driven down from Missouri to attend the ceremony. They had made the same trip just a week earlier to attend the academy graduation for his brother, who had recently been employed by the Florence Police Department. There were other family members in attendance, as well as members of the other graduating officers. When the program was over Chief Richey, and I began to make our way home, stopping at one of our favorite lunch spots on that route near Danville, The Cook Stove. We arrived back at the office at approximately 3:00 p.m., and I went upstairs to check in. Being Friday afternoon, there weren’t many deputies around, so I checked my voice messages, emails, and desk to see if there was anything I needed to tend to before the weekend. On my way out, I stopped by the investigations offices and sat down to talk with Deputy Brandon Graves. While we were talking, he got a phone call from Lieutenant Matt Horton. I noticed he perked up in his chair, and when he hung up the phone, I asked, “What’s going on?” He told me Vicky White was missing, and so was Casey White, that she had brought him to the courthouse for a court appearance that morning. He went on to say they hadn’t been able to get her on her cell phone and that Casey White had not been returned to the detention center with the other inmates. No one knows the gut-wrenching feeling I had in my stomach when I heard those words. My first thought was that Vicky was in extreme danger at best and possibly already dead at worst.

The two of us began a search of the courthouse to determine if the inmate was still there. It was now approximately 3:35 p.m. as we went floor by floor looking for him. During the process Investigator Graves found out that Casey had not been scheduled to be at the courthouse that morning for any reason. On my instructions, other personnel had begun reviewing security footage from the in-house camera system to determine if they made it to the courthouse or not. At the same time, I the staff at the detention center to do the same on their security camera-instructed system. I also had our dispatch center contacted to put out a be-on-the-lookout (BOLO) for them and for Vicky’s patrol car.

It wasn’t long until we determined that the patrol car never made it to the courthouse. My immediate thought was that Casey White had somehow managed to overpower Vicky and commandeer the vehicle. Realizing by now that they had a six-hour jump on us, I had dispatch send out a national BOLO. I also told them to contact Deputy Quinton Woods and have him notify the United States Marshalls Fugitive Task Force. Deputy Woods had served on that task force for years, even before I took office in 2015. In the meantime, we downloaded the most recent photo we had of the two, along with a photo of the patrol car, and pushed them out to law enforcement across the country.

We got our first tip within the first hour of putting the information out to our deputies and local law enforcement. An employee of the county told us she had seen a patrol car parked in the parking lot of Florence Square Shopping Center when she went for lunch earlier in the day. Deputies were dispatched and found Vicky White’s patrol vehicle parked among other vehicles that were advertised for sale. Investigators and deputies descended on the shopping center, canvassing businesses in the area to see if we could identify an escape vehicle as they obviously switched cars at that location.


When news spread that Vicky’s patrol car had been located and where, another sheriff’s office employee, Assistant Director of Administration at the detention center Missy Smith, contacted us with information that the previous Wednesday she had received a call from Vicky and that she was asking for a ride. Vicky told her she had locked her keys in her car, which was in Rogersville, and that she needed to go home to get the spare key. When she picked Vicky up at Florence Square Shopping Center, in front of Academy Sports, Vicky told her she had found her keys in her purse but had already caught a ride into Florence and couldn’t ask the person giving her a ride to turn around and take her back. Missy drove her to Rogersville, Alabama, a small community in the East end of the county. She dropped her off at the Foodland Shopping Center where she got in her personal car and left. Later that evening, I called a press conference with our local media to push out the information about the escape and to get Casey and Vicky’s photos out to the public. While my initial reaction was that Casey had somehow overpowered Vicky and took her against her will, the first pieces of the puzzle had already started falling into place. There was no scheduled appointment at the courthouse, so Vicky obviously lied about that to her co-workers. The video footage from the detention center made it clear that Vicky led Casey White out the door, against protocol and in violation of departmental policy. This was not the Vicky White we knew and had worked with for the past sixteen years, but it was apparent that she had not been forced against her will. That could only mean she willingly participated and, if that was the case, there was only one explanation for those of us that knew her; she had been threatened or coerced into helping Casey White escape. In either case, we knew she was in danger. As the hours dragged on, Deputy US Marshalls began to arrive at the courthouse and set up a “war” room from which they would coordinate their efforts in locating the pair for the next several days. It was close to midnight by now, and I reluctantly went home to try to get some rest. As you can imagine, I got very little sleep that night. Day one had come to a close, and we had no idea what kind of vehicle they were in or what direction they were headed. By now, they could be anywhere from Detroit, Chicago, Kansas City, Dallas, Houston, Orlando, Washington D.C., or anywhere in between.