4-year-old girl found after intruder enters home, brutally beats mother

RIVERSIDE, Ala. (WCBD) — A missing 4-year-old from Johns Island has been found, according to officials.

Heidi Renae Todd was found in Riverside, Alabama and is in police custody, Riverside Mayor Rusty Jessup confirmed to Count on 2. She’s currently checking out at a local medical facility, authorities say.

Earlier in the day, police established a BOLO, be on the lookout, for 37-year-old Thomas Lawton Evans. Calling him a suspect in her abduction.

A railroad crew in Riverside, Alabama notified police of a suspicious vehicle near a wooded area.  Police and Fire officials found a young man sleeping and a young female in the passenger seat in adult clothing.

The suspect later told them his correct name and social security number, officials say The young man was extremely nervous.

37-year-old Thomas Lawton Evans Credit: Charleston County Sheriff’s Office (2009 mugshot photo)
37-year-old Thomas Lawton Evans Credit: Charleston County Sheriff’s Office (2009 mugshot photo)

We’re told after authorities told Evans that he will have to walk back to a police officer’s office because of where the vehicle was found, he handed Todd over to them, ran back to the car and got away.

Authorities were able to track the vehicle he stole from Georgia to the Mississippi state line. The original car authorities said he was driving while in South Carolina was ditched. The vehicle Evans was found in was stolen from Georgia earlier Tuesday. The 37-year-old led officials on a “pretty long chase” and later was taken into custody.

Police officers, firefighters, the Coast Guard, and other rescue units launched a search near her Todd’s on Sweetleaf Lane following her disappearance just before 6 p.m. on Tuesday. At one point, officers went door-to-door, knocking at neighboring homes in an attempt to find the girl.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg told Count on 2 that Heidi’s mother was “brutally beaten” and is hospitalized. Interim Police Chief Jerome Taylor said an “unwelcome guest” was at the Todd home, but couldn’t characterize the incident as a burglary.

Taylor said investigators are trying to “unravel . . . the motive.”

Charleston County authorities released a sketch of a person of interest at a 4 p.m. news conference on February 14. Authorities later confirmed that the person of interest in the sketch was not a suspect.

Around 9:45pm, law enforcement officials in Mississippi said they took Thomas Lawton Evan into custody in reference to the kidnapping.


CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) – Charleston police officers are searching for a missing 4-year-old girl on Johns Island.

Charleston Police Department spokesperson Charles Francis says the FBI announced a $10,000 reward for “information leading to the recovery of 4-year-old missing Heidi Todd.”

Heidi Renae Todd disappeared just before 6 p.m. on Tuesday.  Police officers, firefighters, the Coast Guard and other rescue units launched a search near her home on Sweetleaf Lane. At one point, officers went door-to-door, knocking at neighboring homes in an attempt to find the girl.

Police later revealed that Heidi’s mother was taken to the hospital. Neighbors fear the woman was attacked, but police have not revealed any information about why the woman was hospitalized or what may have led to the child’s disappearance.

Officers say Heidi maybe with a “skinny” Hispanic male ranging in age from 25-30 with short hair, dressed in all grey. A photo of the man has not been released.

Charleston police have set up a 24-hour tip line for citizens to report any information about this case.  Please call 843-619-6123 if you know anything about Heidi Todd’s disappearance.

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