A South Carolina prosecutor announced on Friday that a man accused of abducting a little girl after brutally beating her mother, targeted the family at random.
The Post and Courier reports that Charleston’s 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson stated that suspect Thomas Lawton Evans kidnapped 4-year-old Heidi Todd on Tuesday after attacking her mother, Brittany Todd, did not know the family. Police previously didn’t explain if or how the suspect knew the family, and simply stated he was an unwanted guest.
“To be crystal clear: There is no connection between the victims in this matter and the alleged defendant,” Wilson said. “They were randomly targeted.”
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Heidi was abducted from her Johns Island home off of Sweetleaf Lane on Tuesday afternoon after a man beat her mother, Brittany Todd, so severely that numerous bones were broken in her face. Authorities in Alabama found the little girl on Wednesday, in a stolen Chevrolet Impala, with the suspect.
An arrest affidavit indicates that the attacker approached Brittany Todd from behind once she arrived home after dropping off her two oldest children at school.
“The attacker pushed her to the ground. The attacker then physically assaulted (the woman) causing facial fractures and brain bleeding, among other significant injuries,” FBI Special Agent Matt Rhue wrote in an affidavit filed at Charleston’s U.S. District Court.
When school officials contacted authorities and said that Brittany Todd never showed up to pick her children up for school in the afternoon, deputies went to the residence, where they found the badly beaten, who at the time could only give them limited information due to her physical state. She told police that she instructed Heidi to run and hide when the suspect started attacking her, but the attacker apparently took the girl and fled.
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. He’s charged with felony kidnapping. He’s expected to be extradited back to South Carolina, where additional state charges will likely follow. However, he’ll remain in federal custody.
“Our goal is to render maximum accountability in an expedient manner, regardless of whether that is in federal court or state court, or both,” Wilson said in a statement. “This investigation spans a wide geographical area. Information and evidence continues to be gathered and analyzed.”
Heidi has been returned safely to her family, and her mother, who underwent emergency surgery, is expected to survive.
It’s still unclear why the suspect took the little girl, but according to The Birmingham Times, the area in which authorities found Heidi and the suspect near Birmingham is a well-known human trafficking route.
Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
[Feature Photo: Heidi Todd and Thomas Evans/Police Handout]