The search for a missing 4-year-old South Carolina girl ended Wednesday after she reportedly turned up inside a car in an Alabama parking lot — with her Suspected Kidnapper Asleep at the wheel.
Heidi Renae Todd was reported missing around 6 p.m. Tuesday after she was taken from her home in Charleston, S.C. Her mother was badly beaten during the attack and had to be hospitalized, investigators said.
The girl was safe — but the suspect managed to speed away after he woke up, according to reports. He remained at large late Wednesday.
The girl’s mother “is in the hospital. She was brutally beaten and she’s in reasonably fair condition under the circumstance and I understand will be undergoing some surgery,” Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg told reporters Wednesday afternoon. He added that the mother was in “fair condition.”
After she was missing for over 24 hours, Todd was spotted by Riverside Police Chief Rick Oliver who was responding to a call of a suspicious vehicle behind the City Hall parking lot, WLTX reported.
When he got to the car he found Todd in the backseat and a man asleep at the wheel, police said. The suspect has been identified as 37-year-old Thomas Lawton Evans.
The girl reportedly wanted to get out of the car and when she did, Evans sped off. According to the police report, he was driving a blue sedan with an Illinois plate.
Tecklenburg said in a press conference Wednesday that Todd was “scared” but is otherwise fine.
“What could have been a great tragedy had turned into a great joy,” Tecklenburg said.
Police released a sketch earlier of a possible suspect, but said later they no longer believed he was a suspect.
Fox News’ Lucia I. Suarez Sang contributed to this report.
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