CHARLESTON, S. C. – A man who pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to the kidnapping of a 4-year-old girl from her South Carolina home and sexually assaulting her before she was rescued in Alabama also told investigators he killed his girlfriend days earlier, prosecutors said.
Thomas Lawton Evans, 37, pleaded guilty to kidnapping, transportation of a minor to sexual activity and aggravated sexual abuse in federal court. He faces 30 years to life in prison at sentencing, media reported. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
A twist came in the court that the claimants said Evans acknowledged killing his 39-year-old girlfriend days before the kidnapping. Evans, he told FBI agents stabbed Sharon Nannette Hayden in a fight in its Spartanburg County home, prosecutors said. Evans said he chased his girlfriend as she ran into the woods where she collapsed, and he thinks that she is deceased, according to the officers of justice.
Her body was never found and Evans have not yet been charged in her death. Spartanburg County deputies referred all questions to the FBI. Supervisory Special Agent Donald Wood said that his office does not discuss its investigations.
Hayden’s car was found at Johns Island home near Charleston where the child abduction took place, authorities said.
Prosecutors said Evans chooses his next victims in random order, following a mother and her 4-year-old daughter back to their house in the neighborhood of Charleston on Feb. 13 and beat the mother so severely she had to go to the hospital for facial fractures. The attack was not discovered until the police checked on the mother after her other children were not picked up from school, prosecutors said.
Evans, meanwhile, rode the west with the girl. Railway workers called the police after finding them sleeping in a car in the River, Alabama, and Evans gave an officer the girl then sped off, according to the authorities. He was arrested after a police chase in Mississippi, authorities said.
Evans still faces several state charges, including attempted murder, for the attack on the mother and the daughter.