Abducted Girl Rescued Thanks to Observant Strangers

Thomas Lawton Evans was arrested day after Heidi Todd went missing
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2018 8:17 AM CST
Abducted Girl Rescued Thanks to Observant Strangers
This undated photo made available by the City of Charlestown, SC., Department of Police, shows Heidi Renae Todd.   (City of Charleston Department of Police via AP)

To the trio of railroad workers, the situation just seemed a bit off: While tending to track for Norfolk Southern in Alabama on Tuesday afternoon, they came upon a truck parked near the tracks. Inside was a sleeping man and a young girl—who turned out to be 4 years old, but was sitting in the front passenger seat. Alarmed, they called Riverside authorities, and when Police Chief Rick Oliver came upon the scene, something seemed off to him, too: The girl was dressed in adult-sized clothes, reports Al.com—PJs and a hoodie. As the girl was removed from the vehicle, the driver jumped back in and fled, making it to Mississippi, where he was apprehended in Lauderdale County. Police say the man is Thomas Lawton Evans, 37, who was released from prison Feb. 1 and had allegedly kidnapped the girl from Johns Island, SC.

Heidi Renae Todd's disappearance was discovered Tuesday, after the child's mother didn't collect two of her children from school, reports the Post and Courier. Police, alerted by the school, stopped by the home to check on her and found the woman badly beaten. Two of her five children were present and unharmed, but Heidi was gone. The suspect was described by authorities only as an "unwanted visitor," and police have not yet provided a motive for the attack or kidnapping. Heidi's mother is in "reasonably fair condition under the circumstances," says Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, who said she was slated for surgery; her husband was away with the Coast Guard during the time of the attack. (Read more kidnapping stories.)

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