Police are searching for a South Carolina woman who hasn’t been seen since a convicted felon was pulled over while driving her car in February.
The Post and Courier reports that suspect Thomas Lawton Evans was staying with Sharon Nannette Hayden, 39, of Spartanburg, after he was released from prison earlier this year. A few days before he allegedly kidnapped a young girl from her home and beat her mother brutally, police pulled him over in Berkeley County while he drove Hayden’s care.
Evans told police that Hayden gave him permission to drive the vehicle, but when they went to the home to ask her, she wasn’t there. They let Evans go at the time, but still haven’t found Hayden.
“I just want to know whether my daughter is OK,” Evans’ mother, Sharon Jowers, said. “All we can do is hope.”
The Charleston Police Department is searching for Hayden to see if she has any information about the abduction, but they also want to ensure that she isn’t harmed.
“In all investigations of this type, you’re trying to fill in some blank spaces and fill in the timeline,” Supervisory Special Agent Donald Wood of the FBI’s Columbia field office told the Post and Courier. “We continue to do that in Mr. Evans’ case. … We’re looking at all possible places … including associates … to get a better picture of our suspect.”
As CrimeOnline previously reported, the child was abducted from her Johns Island home off of Sweetleaf Lane earlier this month after Evans allegedly beat her mother, Brittany Todd, so severely that numerous boned were broken in her face. Authorities in Alabama found the little girl on Wednesday, in a car with the suspect. The car police found Evans in was not Hayden’s.
Al.com reports that 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 the mother 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 the little girl 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 fleeing and kidnapping.
Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
[Feature Photo: Sharon Hayden/Police Handout]