A man is facing a life-long prison term after purportedly kidnapping and raping a 4-year-old girl. The Daily Mail is reporting that Thomas Lawton Evans Jr. has been arraigned on charges of child sexual abuse, kidnapping, and transporting a child to engage in sexual activity.
Authorities are saying Evans, who was just released from prison less than two weeks before the crime, probably followed Heidi Todd’s mother at random after she dropped off her two other children at a South Carolina school on February 13.
An FBI report revealed that the knife-wielding felon allegedly attacked the 31-year-old mother as she returned home. According to the federal charging documents, the mother screamed for her three children to find somewhere to hide before she was pummeled by the intruder. Evans would later allegedly rape and tie the mother of five before kidnapping her 4-year-old daughter.
The horrendous attack was said to have taken place around 10 a.m. However, police did not visit the Charleston residence until after 6 p.m. The school had asked officers to visit the home after Heidi’s mother failed to turn up to get the children she had dropped off earlier.
Police found the mother badly beaten with horrible facial injuries, her two other children were found unharmed. The police officers would later learn that eight hours had elapsed since Heidi Todd had been abducted.
Thomas Lawton Evans Jr., 37, of Boiling Springs, SC, has been charged with kidnapping a 4-year-old girl from St. John's Island. He was arrested in Mississippi after beating the girl's mother and taking the child, according to investigators. https://t.co/f0yyz27djR
— WSPA 7News (@WSPA7) March 5, 2018
Luckily, her abductor left a trail for investigators to follow. A Post and Courier story revealed that Thomas Lawton Evans Jr. stole an electronic device from Heidi’s mother, which was tracked by police. Surveillance cameras would later capture the face of the convicted felon at a gas station in Greensboro, Georgia.
However, Heidi’s rescue was made possible by eagle-eyed railroad workers in Alabama who noticed a Chevrolet Impala with Illinois license plates parked close to the tracks. The workers had quickly notified police who found Evans sleeping behind the wheel.
The officers found 4-year-old Heidi awake and strangely dressed in adult clothes. Evans had handed over the child to the officers when queried but sped away when he was told that he would be detained.
The 37-year-0ld criminal, who had driven 400 miles with the kidnapped girl, led police on another 20-mile chase before pulling into a dead-end street and hitting a tree. Police say he simply got out of the stolen vehicle and surrendered.
According to court documents, the 37-year-old’s violent nature has spanned years. In 2000, a 19-year-old Evans was charged with sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl. He was not registered as a sexual offender because he pleaded guilty to an unrelated charge.
— Carolyn Murray (@cmurraywcbdtv) March 7, 2018
In 2002, he was convicted of strong-armed robbery and served two years probation. In 2009, he and a friend broke into a gas station to steal lottery tickets, beer, and cigarettes. Less than an hour later, he robbed another gas station at gunpoint.
In 2010, a judge handed him a decade-long sentence on burglary and armed robbery charges. While in prison, Evans garnered 14 disciplinary actions including possessing drugs, using cellphones, having a weapon, and threatening prison guards.
The Island Packer is reporting that he was released February 1 and was supposed to be monitored by the state in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. Instead, the 37-year-old allegedly traveled to upstate South Carolina less than two weeks after being released to attack the Todds.