The man arrested in the abduction of a 4-year-old from Johns Island is being held on murder and kidnapping charges at a detention center in Mississippi, according to online jail logs.
Thomas Lawton Evans Jr., 37, of Boiling Springs, has been charged with kidnapping and will be have a hearing in federal court Friday afternoon.
Murder charges were added to Evans’ inmate entry in Madison County, Mississippi, as of Friday morning. Don Wood, spokesman for the FBI in Columbia, said that Evans has not been charged with murder, and the entry in the jail log is a mistake.
The kidnapping charges are related to the abduction of Heidi Renae Todd, who was reported missing Tuesday evening after her mother was found brutally beaten.
Evans attacked Heidi Todd’s mother Brittany Todd, 30, with a knife as she was entering her Johns Island home between 8 and 8:30 a.m Tuesday, according to the FBI criminal complaint.
According to the FBI report, Brittany told Heidi to “run and hide” and Evans assaulted her, causing severe brain bleeding and facial fractures.
Charleston police were called to the Todd home around 5:50 p.m. Tuesday after a local school notified police that Brittany Todd didn’t pick up her children, according to police. According to the FBI report, Todd “met officers at the door” had severe “facial trauma” and had markings as if she’d been tied up.
Additional charges are expected to be filed once Evans is transported back to South Carolina, according to 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson.
According to the incident report from the Charleston Police Department, investigators classified the crime as “aggravated assault.”
On Friday afternoon, Wilson told the Post and Courier that the Todd family was “randomly targeted.” She said there is “no connection” between the Todd family and Evans, according to the Post and Courier.
The Charleston police incident report also said there is no known relationship between Evans and Todd. The FBI report said that Evans “is not related to (Heidi Todd) in any way and does not have any legal custody of (Heidi Todd).”
Evans has a criminal record including drug and robbery charges that dates back to 1999, according to Charleston County court records.
In August, 2009, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for armed robbery, second-degree robbery and drug possession charges.
Evans had 14 disciplinary actions while in prison, including threatening prison employees and taking a hostage on Dec. 18, according to South Carolina Department of Corrections records. Other offenses included drug possession/usage, threatening to commit harm on an employee, property damage/ destruction, and possessing a weapon..
He had been released Feb. 1 on “community supervision” and was supposed to be in Spartanburg County as a part of his probation terms, according to Evans’ inmate record. According to SCDOC’s website, the “community supervision program” is for certain offenders who have served 85 percent of their sentence.
“As the law allows and is standard practice, he was processed and released on the first of the month, February 2018, that his sentence was set to expire,” Jeffrey Taillon, SCDOC communications director said in an email to the Island Packet.
How Heidi Todd was found
Riverside, Alabama, Police Chief Rick Oliver said in a press conference that railroad workers on Wednesday reported there was a man sleeping in a blue Chevrolet Impala with Illinois license plates in a wooded area off Highway 78.
“There was no reason for him to be that far into the wooded area,” Oliver said during a news conference late that day.
Oliver’s suspicions were raised when he saw a little girl awake in the passenger seat wearing an adult-sized hoodie and adult-sized pajamas.
The police chief said he smelled alcohol and the driver was acting nervous, so he asked him to get out of the car. Evans told Oliver his name and that he was coming from South Carolina, where he had been recently released from prison.
Oliver said, at that time, he did not know that the child had been reported missing or that the car had been stolen in Georgia.
When Oliver told Evans they’d have to go back to the Sheriff’s Office, Evans asked him to carry the girl.
“He handed her off and then ran toward the car, cranked it and started away,” Oliver said.
The FBI was able to track the vehicle headed toward the Mississippi state line, so law enforcement agencies there were alerted, he said.
Lauderdale County, Mississippi, Chief Deputy Ward Calhoun told The Meridian Star that Evans reached speeds close to 100 mph heading north on rural state highways before he turned down a street that had a dead end.
He jumped out of the car and tried to run away, the newspaper reported, but he was arrested and taken to the Lauderdale County Detention Center.
“He led them on a pretty long chase,” Oliver said.
Thursday afternoon, Todd’s family sent a statement to the Charleston Police Department thanking the community for their support and all the first responders who helped bring her home.
“In the coming days, we will be counting on your continued prayers and support and ask that you give us the privacy and room to reunite and heal as a family," the statement said.