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FLORENCE, Ala. — A prison official from Alabama is missing after escorting an inmate to a courthouse for a hearing.

The Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post Saturday that Assistant Director of Corrections Vicky White disappeared while escorting an inmate being held on capital murder charges. The inmate is also missing.

On Saturday morning, Sheriff Rick Singleton confirmed the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, FBI, and U.S. Marshals are assisting in the investigation.

White, 56, who's been with the department for 16 years, left the detention center with inmate Casey White on Friday morning and neither has been seen since. The pair are not related. The vehicle they were traveling in when they left the detention center was discovered at a nearby shopping center parking lot, according to the sheriff's office.

White, 38, was being held on capital murder charges in the 2015 death of Connie Ridgeway. He confessed to the slaying in 2020 while in state prison for other crimes, WHNT-TV reported.

Being alone with the inmate was a violating of policy

At a news conference Friday, Singleton said Vicky White, armed with a 9mm, left the detention center with the inmate around 9:41 a.m. headed to the courthouse for what she said was a mental health evaluation for Casey. She was alone with the inmate, which the sheriff said was in direct violation of department policy.

"Our policy is for any inmate with those kinds of charges to have two sworn deputies escort them. And that did not happen," Singleton said.

Singleton also said there was no mental health evaluation for the inmate scheduled at the courthouse.

White also told co-workers she had a doctor's appointment scheduled, which was confirmed but the office said the deputy never showed.

Officials said no one realized the two were missing until 3:30 p.m. on Friday. Deputies tried to contact Vicky White but her phone repeatedly went to voicemail.

Singleton said his department was "aggressively investigating" the incident and would be looking into previous interaction between the two to "see if something else was going on."

Singleton said his department was "shocked" and that it was obviously a possibility that the corrections officer helped him escape. Singleton told news outlets that Vicky White had turned in her retirement papers the day before she went missing.

Regardless of her involvement, the sheriff acknowledged she could very well be in danger.

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