A week after multiple state charges were filed against him, South Carolina ex-convict Thomas Lawton Evans is now facing a trio of federal charges in connection with last month’s kidnapping of four-year-old Heidi Todd.
The indictments paint the grimmest possible picture of what allegedly befell the beautiful, curly-haired girl – and what might have befallen her moving forward had she not been found.
According to a release from the office of acting U.S. attorney Beth Drake, Evans has been charged with kidnapping, transportation of a minor to engage in sexual activity and aggravated sexual abuse of a person under the age of twelve years. He will be arraigned on these charges on March 27 at the federal court house in Charleston, S.C.
If convicted on all three counts, Evans is looking at three life sentences in federal prison.
Todd was kidnapped from her family’s Johns Island, South Carolina residence during a brutal home invasion last month. Her disappearance prompted a statewide search after police discovered her mother inside the family home – nearly beaten to death. Miraculously, Todd was found alive two states away in Riverside, Alabama – a town of roughly 2,200 people located in St. Clair County.
Local police were notified by railway workers of a “suspicious vehicle near a wooded area.” They found the girl inside the car – a stolen Chevrolet Impala – and were able to retrieve her from the vehicle. Evans escaped, however, leading police on a high speed chase that ended in Lauderdale, Mississippi hours later when the stolen vehicle he was driving collided with a tree.
(Click to view)
(Via: City of Charleston, S.C.)
News of Todd’s recovery was exclusively reported by this news site.
At the state level, Evans has been charged with attempted murder, two counts of kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, armed robbery, burglary in the first degree and possession of a deadly weapon during a violent crime.
Both federal and state prosecutors are moving forward with their respective cases, with the U.S. Department of Justice (Justice.gov) expected to take the lead. The state charges will be handled by the office of S.C. ninth circuit solicitor Scarlett Wilson .
The investigation into this case has been led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), with support from the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the Charleston, S.C. police department.
The 37-year-old was released from the custody of the S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC) on February 1 – three-and-a-half weeks before his scheduled release date of February 26.
In other words, he should have still been behind bars for his previous crime.
During his period of incarceration, Evans racked up numerous disciplinary offenses – including possession of a weapon. In December, he was involved in a violent incident in which he held his cellmate hostage.
Obviously Evans – like any defendant – should be considered innocent until proven guilty by a jury of his peers (or until such time as he issues a pleading in connection with the charges filed against him).
If he is found guilty, though, we’ve made it clear what we think should happen to him …
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