JOHNS ISLAND, S. C. – A 4-year-old girl who disappeared from her South Carolina home where her mother is badly beaten, has been found safe, and a day later in Alabama, authorities said.
The head of the police in Riverside, Alabama, took Heidi Todd in a vehicle Wednesday afternoon and managed to get her out safely before the driver sped off, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said.
The police is now looking for the driver, Thomas Evans, 37, who is charged with kidnapping, said prosecutor Scarlett Wilson, who expects more charges to be filed.
Officers went to the girl’s home on Johns Island around 6 a.m. Tuesday after two of her brothers and sisters had not been picked up at school, Tecklenburg said.
The mother was found “brutally beaten”, but the officers do not find Heidi, Tecklenburg said. Two other children were found in the house unharmed, the mayor said.
The woman said she was attacked as she returned home, but investigators still do not know exactly when that was, or where she had gone, Tecklenburg said.
The researchers have not found any connection between Evans and the girl of the family and they have not figured out the motive for the kidnapping, the mayor said.
Authorities say that Heidi’s father was on a plane to reunite with his daughter in Riverside, Alabama, about 35 miles (55 km) east of Birmingham, authorities said.
“I saw a picture of her with a cheerful smile on his face,” Tecklenburg said.
The mother of the girl remains in the hospital and underwent an operation Wednesday, the mayor said.
Authorities spent the past 24 hours, looking at the girl, looking in the vicinity of ponds and flying over Charleston in helicopters. Neighbors came to hear of the mayor, the press conference Wednesday night and cheered and clapped their hands when he said Heidi was safe.
“What could have been a day of great tragedy is truly a day of joy,” Tecklenburg said.