RIVERSIDE, Ala. – A missing South Carolina 4-year-old has been found safe and her alleged abductor is in custody after he fled to Mississippi, according to WCIV.
Heidi Renae Todd, who disappeared from Charleston on Tuesday evening, was rescued from a man’s car around 4 p.m. in Alabama.
“We give the glory and our thanks that all prayers have been answered, and that Heidi Todd is safe in the hands of the FBI,” Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said at a press conference Wednesday, his voice breaking with emotion as the crowd let out shouts of joy, fists pumping skyward.
An officer was checking on a vehicle in Riverside when he noticed a sleeping man inside, along with a little girl who wanted out, AL.com reports.
The driver woke up and drove away as the officer was getting the girl out of the vehicle. Solicitor Scarlett Wilson identified the suspect as 37-year-old Thomas Lawton Evans.
Officers from several Alabama counties tracked Evans’ vehicle to the Mississippi state line, where they were able to stop him and take him into custody Wednesday night, authorities said.
According to The Post and Courier, Evans has multiple past arrests on his record for breaking into cars, substance abuse, and, in 2009, armed robbery.
Investigators believe it may have been Evans who attacked Heidi’s mother Tuesday at her home on John’s Island, badly beating her, according to WLTX. She is reportedly recovering at an area hospital in fair condition.
Heidi’s father, a member of the Coast Guard, was away on a training mission when the abduction happened.
The motive in the case is still not known, Tecklenburg said Wednesday.