CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The man accused in the kidnapping of a 4-year-old Johns Island girl and the assault of her mother has been charged in a three-count federal indictment.
Thomas Lawton Evans Jr., 37, of Boiling Springs, South Carolina, was indicted on charges of kidnapping involving a person under the age of 18, transportation of a minor to engage in sexual activity, and aggravated sexual abuse of a person under the age of 12, according to U.S. Attorney Beth Drake.
The indictment alleges Evans "did knowingly and unlawfully seize, confine, kidnap, abduct and carry away [the victim] a person who had not attained the age of 18 years; and did hold [the victim] for ransom, reward and otherwise, and did willfully transport [the victim] in interstate commerce, that is, from the state of South Carolina to the state of Alabama."
Evans was initially charged with a federal complaint.
If convicted of the kidnapping charge, he could face a minimum sentence of 20 years to life in prison. If convicted of the second count, of transporting a minor to engage in sexual activity, he could face a minimum sentence of 10 years to life in prison. A conviction on the third count, aggravated sexual abuse of a person under age 12, is punishable by a minimum term of 30 years to life in prison.
Evans also faces several state charges of attempted murder, two counts of kidnapping, first-degree criminal sexual conduct, armed robbery, first-degree burglary and possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a violent crime, according to Charleston Police spokesman Charles Francis.
He is accused of forcing his way into a Johns Island home at approximately 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 13, assaulting a woman and kidnapping one of her children who was in the home. Investigators say Evans struck the woman multiple times before forcing her to the floor in the kitchen where he rammed her head into the hardwood floor multiple times and struck her in the face with closed fists, causing multiple facial fractures, bleeding on the brain and blunt force trauma to the neck.
Evans is accused of keeping the victim captive for approximately an hour before fleeing the home with the 4-year-old and the victim's purse.
The woman told her daughter to run while the woman was being beaten, but Evans grabbed the child, the affidavit states.
Investigators were notified the victim's stolen debit card, which was in her purse, was used at a gas station in Greensboro, Georgia, approximately 20 hours after the kidnapping and assault was reported, an affidavit states.
Evans was arrested the following day in Mississippi after he fled the scene in Alabama when Heidi was rescued, according to investigators.
Detectives say the woman's vision was impaired by the assault but say she was able to pick Evans out of a photo lineup.
Evans was being held in the Charleston County Detention Center.
An arraignment date for his current federal charges has been set for March 27 at the Federal Courthouse in Charleston.
A preliminary hearing on the state charges is set for April 25.