Man accused of kidnapping 4-year-old faces 7 charges
CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The man accused of kidnapping a 4-year-old Johns Island girl and assaulting her mother will remain behind bars after waiving a hearing before a bond judge Wednesday.
Thomas Lawton Evans, 37, is charged with 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.
Evans made a brief appearance in front of a bond judge Wednesday afternoon, telling the judge he was waiving his bond hearing. That means he will have to appear before a circuit judge within the next 30 days to seek bond.
Affidavits filed in the case indicate Evans confessed to investigators after his arrest.
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.
Court documents state Evans told investigators he used his girlfriend's car, a black Honda Civic, to go to Charleston.
On Feb. 11, two days before the kidnapping, Berkeley County deputies responded to the St. Stephen area for a report of a suspicious vehicle. They found a black Honda Civic, registered to Sharon Hayden, and later found a man they identified as Thomas Evans walking with a gas can who claimed he had run out of gas, an incident report states. Deputies did not detain Evans because his record came back clear with the exception of a suspended driver's license, but they were unable to hold him for driving under suspension because no one saw him operating the vehicle, they say.
Deputies traced the vehicle to Sharon Hayden of the Boiling Springs area but were not able to make contact with her, the report states.
Hayden's mother, Sharon Jowers, has said her daughter is missing.
The day after the kidnapping, on Feb. 14, authorities in Morgan County, Georgia, investigated a reported burglary and vehicle theft at a home in Rutledge. A blue Chevrolet Impala was reported stolen from the home. Deputies found the same black Honda Civic registered to Hayden abandoned behind the burglarized home.
That afternoon, railroad workers in Alabama reported a suspicious vehicle, a blue Chevy Impala, near railroad tracks. Riverside, Alabama, Police Chief Rick Oliver approached the vehicle and was able to rescue the child, an incident report stated. Evans was captured late that evening in Mississippi.
Charleston Police said they want to speak with Hayden because they think she may have information in the kidnapping.
On Feb. 22, eight days after Evans was captured, Jowers said her daughter was missing.
"I'm just worried about where she is and what he might have did with her since she's been missing," Jowers said.
But Jowers said she does not believe Hayden had anything to do with the child's abduction.
Evans made a court appearance Monday on a federal criminal complaint of kidnapping a person under the age of 18. Evans waived his right for a detention hearing and a preliminary hearing Monday.
Wednesday marked his first appearance at the state level.
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