A South Carolina girl was rescued on Wednesday afternoon after disappearing from her Johnsons Lake home on Tuesday, after someone entered the home and brutally beat her mother. A man is behind bars, charged in connection with the child’s kidnapping.
WSOCTV reports that Police Chief Rick Oliver, of Riverside, Alabama, found 4-year-old Heidi Todd after a railroad crew spotted a blue Chevrolet Impala with an Illinois license plate hidden deep in the woods, with a man and a little girl inside, around 20 miles east of Birmingham.
The railroad workers contacted Oliver, who arrived to the scene and found the man, later identified as Thomas Lawton Evans, sleeping in the car. The little girl in the car, Heidi, wanted to get out.
“There was no reason for him to be that far off in a wooded area,” Oliver said, according to the Island Packet.
Heidi Todd’s kidnapper has been arrested after being released from prison only 12 days earlier; Heidi is reportedly…
Evans woke up after Oliver approached the vehicle. The suspect appeared nervous, but unlocked the door and let Heidi out. According to Oliver, the suspect gave his name as Thomas Lawton Evans, but when asked to come to the police station for questioning, he fled in his car.
Authorities caught Evans in Mississippi and arrested him.
“She was coloring and eating snacks and drinking chocolate milk. We’re just tickled to death she is OK,” Oliver said of Heidi after they rescued her. “Once we got her here and watching some cartoons, she was good.”
After Heidi was taken to a local hospital, she was reunited with her father, who flew in from South Carolina.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Heidi disappeared from her home on Tuesday after an unwanted guest stepped into the residence and beat her mother in the face so brutally that she ended up undergoing surgery. Police were alerted to the home with the mother failed to pick up her other children from school, prompting school officials to contact local authorities.
When deputies arrived to the home, the mom answered the door, although she was beaten and disoriented. Two toddler-aged children were inside the home and appeared unharmed. Heidi was missing.
— Andrew Donley (@Andrewabc3340) February 15, 2018
The mother gave limited information on what happened, but indicated that a skinny Hispanic male wearing an all grey outfit attacked her. Authorities released a sketch of a tattoo-faced man on Wednesday afternoon, in connection with the assault and Heidi’s disappearance. Police indicated that the man in the sketch is only a person of interest at this time, but are asking the public to be on the lookout.
Mayor John Tecklenburg provided the photo during press conference on Wednesday. Tecklenburg indicated that the man in the sketch had been around a wooded area behind the victims’ home in the previous day before 4-year-old Heidi Todd disappeared from her Johns Lake residence.
The man in the sketch still hasn’t been located, and it’s unclear how Evans knew the victim and her family or if he knew them at all.
Prosecutor Scarlett Wilson stated Evans was charged with kidnapping, with more charges expected to follow.
The story is still developing. Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
[Feature Photo: Heidi Todd and Thomas Evans/Police Handout]