4-year-old Heidi Todd reunited with family; suspect in custody

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

Heidi Renae Todd was found in Riverside, Alabama, Riverside Mayor Rusty Jessup confirmed to Count on 2. After being found, she was checked out at a local medical facility and then given back to her family, authorities say.

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

According to an affidavit, Heidi’s mother dropped off two of her children at school and returned to her home to Johns Island on Tuesday, February 13. When she entered her home, she was attacked from behind by a male with a knife.

Authorities were notified when no one picked up the two children she dropped off at school that morning.

At about 5:50 p.m., Charleston Police conducted a welfare check. When officers arrived, “they could see evidence inside consistent with a physical assault,” an affidavit stated.


RELATED: Complete coverage of Heidi Todd’s disappearance


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

Thomas Lawton Evans, Jr.
Credit: Lauderdale County Detention Facility

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

We’re told says Evans handed authorities the child when they said they needed to go to the police station.  He then sped off in his car.

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.

Just after she was placed back in her parents’ custody, the family released a statement.

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.” 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.”

Person of interest

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.

Authorities also released a 24-hour tip line for citizens to report any information in 4-year-old’s disappearance.

Keep checking counton2.com for real-time updates on this story. To get breaking news alerts, download the free News 2 App for iPhone or Android. You can also sign up for email alerts.

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