Report: Johns Island kidnapping suspect used homemade knife to take hostage weeks before prison release

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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - An incident report states the man charged in the kidnapping of a Johns Island child crafted a homemade weapon in prison weeks before he was released.

Thomas Lawton Evans, 37, is facing federal and state kidnapping charges in the abduction of Heidi Todd.

Evans was released from prison on Feb. 1.

On Dec. 18, South Carolina Department of Corrections employees say he took his roommate hostage.

According to a prison incident report, a corrections officer at Kershaw Correctional Institute was called by Evans to his cell where Evans was holding what appeared to be a homemade knife approximately 12 inches in length to the head of his roommate.

Evans told the corrections officer that if he [Evans] was not removed from the room, he would attack the roommate, the report states. Corrections officers were able to persuade Evans to give them the homemade blade and he was then taken to another location without further incident, the report states.

Evans was disciplined for hostage taking and possession of a weapon, prison records state.

At the time of the hostage-taking, Evans was serving a 10-year prison sentence for armed robbery with a deadly weapon as well as second-degree burglary, the records state.

The incident report states that Evans robbed the BP gas station on Aug. 30, 2009. The clerk at the station said he was robbed that day at gunpoint and Evans took $50 in cash before fleeing, the report said. The burglary charge came from an incident at the Sunoco station in the 2000 block of Maybank Highway when the report stated Evans and another suspect took 75 lottery tickets and 50 cigarettes.

He was initially incarcerated in Lieber Correctional Facility according to prison records before moving around the state to others including Kirkland, Ridgeland, Allendale, Kershaw, Lee and Trenton.

Lawton was released to community supervision by the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services after serving 85 percent of his sentence, South Carolina Department of Corrections spokesman Jeffrey Taillon said.

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, Taillon said.

He was released on probation in Spartanburg County. Charleston Police say his release came just 12 days before he attacked the victim on Johns Island and took 4-year-old Heidi Todd.

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