Charleston, S.C. (WCIV) — Court documents filed today outline the details and charges against Thomas Lawton Evans, the man accused of kidnapping a 4-year-old Charleston County girl and savagely beating her mother.
Evans now faces seven charges in state court, including a sex crime and attempted murder.
Court documents describe in detail the harrowing experience for a mother who was beaten and assaulted on Feb. 13 in her John’s Island home while in the presence of her children.
The 4-year-old has since been returned to Charleston and the woman is recovering.
According to affidavits, the scene unfolded at 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 13, when Evans, a stranger, approached the woman as she was walking into her home on John’s Island.
Evans “immediately attacked” the woman from behind, while armed with a knife, and forced her into the house, affidavits state.
Evans then forced the victim onto the ground 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,” affidavits state.
The affidavits state that Evans later confessed to sexually assaulting the woman during the attack.
“The defendant stated that he used an unknown object to penetrate the victim during the commission of the assault armed robbery and kidnapping,” the affidavits state.
As Evans assaulted the woman, "she yelled at the 4-year-old victim to run,” affidavits state.
After the attack, Evans restrained the woman inside of her home for an hour and stole her purse before fleeing the scene, affidavits state.
The nightmare continued as the woman discovered hours later that her 4-year-old daughter was missing, discovered to have been abducted and transported over multiple states lines by the suspect.
The woman was transported to a local hospital for treatment for her injuries. It was nearly 6 p.m. when the woman realized her daughter was missing, the affidavits state.
Police had little to go on—the report states the woman said she did not know the suspect, and only described him as a tall, thin, possibly Hispanic male.
A break came when 20 hours later, when someone tried unsuccessfully to use the woman's stolen debit card at a gas station at approximately 7:30 a.m. the next day, Feb. 14, in Greensboro Georgia, more than 200 miles from John’s Island.
Using surveillance camera footage, detectives described the suspect as “a bald white male wearing a blue T-shirt” who was driving an older model black Honda Accord, affidavits state.
Lucky break in Alabama
At approximately 4 p.m. on Feb. 14, Chief Rick Oliver was on patrol in Riverside, Alabama when he received a call about a suspicious vehicle in the woods parked along a stretch of railroad tracks.
The vehicle was described as a blue Chevy Impala with Illinois tags, “occupied by a white male wearing a blue T-shirt” and a small female in the front seat, passed out, the affidavit states.
The car was more than 400 miles away from John’s Island.
Believing he had come upon a medical-related incident, Chief Oliver dispatched police.
According to the affidavits, Chief Oliver soon made contact with the driver, who identified himself as Thomas Lawton Evans.
According to the documents, Chief Oliver “noticed a small of an alcoholic beverage coming from the vehicle,” and ordered Evans to exit the vehicle and complete field sobriety tests.
Evans then asked Chief Oliver to "hold the small child that was in the front passenger seat and handed her to him," the affidavits state.
As he handed the girl off to the officer, Evans got back into the car and fled the scene, affidavits state.
Chief Oliver conducted a query for a missing person and determined that the 4-year-old was reported missing from Charleston.
He made contact with the City of Charleston police department and soon Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) special agents contacted him with a photo of Evans, who Chief Oliver positively identified as the driver of the vehicle, the affidavits state.
Full confession in Mississippi
The affidavits provide no details on the capture of Evans, only stating that Evans was “later located” and taken into custody by the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office in Lauderdale, Mississippi.
He was interviewed by a detective with the Charleston police department and a representative of the FBI, the affidavits state. Documents add:
The defendant gave a full confession providing intimate details as to what transpired during the assault and kidnapping.
The John’s Island woman, still in the hospital at the time with sustained injuries that impaired her vision, was able to picke two possible suspects out of a photographic lineup; one of the photos was of Evans.
During an interview in Mississippi, Evans stated that the black Honda Accord belonged to his girlfriend, the affidavits state. According to previous reports from the Morgan County (Ga.) Sheriff's Office, the Chevy Imapala had been stolen.
State charges in detail
According to the affidavits, Evans has been charged with:
- Kidnapping the woman, on the charge that he restrained her for an hour.
-Attempted murder, as he “with clear intent, malice and forethought inflicted injuries to the woman that could have resulted in her death,” the affidavits state.
-Armed robbery, on the charge that he stole the woman’s purse after committing the assault and was armed with a knife.
-Possession of a knife during the commission of a violent crime, as he was armed during the assault.
-Burglary 1st degree, as he unlawfully entered the residence.
-Criminal sexual conduct, 1st degree of the woman. The affidavits state that during a medical examination, it was discovered that the woman sustained an injury to her genital area during the assault and a piece of fabric, believed to be a remnant from the woman’s undergarments, were recovered from the crime scene in the kitchen.
Evans on Wednesday waived his right to a bond hearing in Charleston County Magistrate Court.
Evans will appear before a South Carolina circuit judge within the next 30 days. Officials previously stated that there will likely be a dual prosecution for Evans, with state and federal prosecutors working together.
(Editor’s note: In light of additional details revealed regarding criminal aspects of this case, ABC News 4 has removed references to the victims’ names in order to protect their identities in the future.)
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