A 4-year-old girl is alive and safe after being abducted from her South Carolina home on Tuesday, and an Alabama police chief who rescued the girl said he has “no doubts” that the man he found her with was responsible for brutally beating her mother.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, South Carolina authorities released a sketch of a tattoo-faced man on Wednesday afternoon, in connection with Heidi Todd, a young girl who disappeared from her Johns Island home on Tuesday. Police indicated that the man in the sketch was only a person of interest at this time, but are asking the public to be on the lookout.
However, the person of interest in the sketch will likely be cleared, according to authorities, after they found Heidi in Alabama on Wednesday afternoon, in a blue Chevrolet Impala with convicted felon, Thomas Lawton Evans. Authorities later reported that the vehicle was reported stolen in Georgia.
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Riverside, Alabama, Police Chief Rick Oliver found the pair in the car, parked deep into the woods, around 20 miles east of Birmingham, after members of a railroad crew noticed the care and called the police.
“He was way out away from where he needed to be,” Oliver said. “There was no reason for him to be that far off in the wooded area.”
As Oliver walked up to the vehicle, the sleeping suspect woke up and appeared nervous. When asked to get out of the car with the girl, Evans complied. Oliver informed him that he needed to come to the station with him. Evans reportedly asked Oliver to hold the child, then immediately bolted back to his car and fled, leading police on a high-speed chase until he crashed at a dead end in Dekalb, Mississippi.
The suspect remains in custody at the detention center in Lauderdale County, Mississippi, on a felony fleeing charge, with additional charges to likely follow.
Heidi was abducted from her home on Tuesday afternoon, off of Sweetleaf Lane in Johns Island. The suspect reportedly hit the child’s mother, Brittany Todd, numerous times in the face, to the point she was so disoriented that she couldn’t drive to a nearby elementary school to pick up her two older children. When she failed to arrive, school officials contacted police. Deputies went to the Todd residence, where Brittany Todd, badly beaten and disoriented, opened the door.
Police rushed the mom to hospital and noted two other toddler-aged children were in the home, unharmed. Heidi, however was missing. Brittany Todd is expecting to survive the incident after undergoing emergency surgery.
It’s still unclear how or why Evans targeted the Todd family, but police report that the father was out of town training with the U.S. Coast Guard when the incident occurred. According to The Birmingham Times, the area in which authorities found Heidi and the suspect is a well-known human trafficking route.
The story is still developing. Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
[Feature Photo: Heidi Todd and Thomas Evans/Police Handout]