(Video shows Heidi Todd being brought out of a fire station after being found safe in Riverside, AL)
JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (WSPA/WCBD) — A missing 4-year-old from Johns Island, South Carolina has been found safe in Alabama and a suspect has been taken into custody, according to officials.
Heidi Renae Todd was found in Riverside, Alabama after railroad workers noticed a suspicious vehicle in the woods around 4:00pm Wednesday afternoon.
Riverside Police Chief Rick Oliver responded to the scene along with the city’s fire chief and found 37-year-old Thomas Lawton Evans sleeping in the driver’s seat and Todd in the passenger seat. Once Evans took Todd out of the car and gave her to the Chief Oliver, Evans ran back to the vehicle and left a stolen 2010 blue Chevrolet Impala from Georgia.
Chief Oliver says the Evans was released from prison in South Carolina on February 1st.
Evans was then captured after a police chase in Mississippi later on Wednesday.
Todd was reported missing from South Carolina, Tuesday evening.
Police officers, firefighters, the Coast Guard, and other rescue units launched a search near her home on Sweetleaf Lane, following her disappearance just before 6:00pm 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 sister station WCBD 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 during a 4:00pm news conference on February 14. Authorities later confirmed that the person of interest in the sketch was not a suspect.
The FBI offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to finding Todd. “A private citizen, who wants to remain anonymous, has made a $10,000 donation in addition to the original amount of the $10,000 reward offered by the FBI,” according to Charleston Police spokesman Charles Francis.
The Charleston Police Department also set up a 24-hour tip line at (843) 619-6123 for members of the community to report any information about the case.