Charleston, SC (WLTX) - A South Carolina girl who was kidnapped from her home and transported across three states has been reunited with her family.
Charleston police confirm 4-year-old Heidi Renae Todd of Charleston was back with her dad and other relatives.
In a statement, Todd's family thanked the public for their help, asking for continued support:
"Thank you to everyone for their support through this difficult time. Words cannot express the range of emotions and suffering that my family has endured these past few days. I cannot thank enough all the first responders, and especially the individual in Alabama who personally rescued Heidi and helped bring her back to us. In the coming days, we will be counting on your continued prayers and support and ask that you give us privacy and room to reunite and heal as a family."
Investigators say on Tuesday afternoon, 37-year-old Thomas Lawton Evans entered Todd's family home on Johns Island without permission. He then "brutally assaulted" the girl's mother, investigators say, and took the girl.
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He left the woman's other children in the home. Two of her kids were at school, and when she didn't come to pick up her children, administrators called police.
Heidi's father, a member of the U.S. Coast Guard, was on a training mission at the time of the incident.
Investigators say Evans--who apparently has no connection to the family---then took the child all the way to Riverside, Alabama, a small town about 40 miles from Birmingham. When he got there, police say he pulled over to sleep near city hall Wednesday afternoon.
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Around 5 p.m. Eastern Time, someone called police to report the car being there as suspicious. Riverside Police Chief Rick Oliver was called to the scene, and there was then a heated exchange he and Evans.
At that point, the suspect gave the little girl to the police chief, telling them he had to get his ID from the car. Evans then jumped into the vehicle and sped off, police say.
The little girl was then taken to a fire station until child services could help.
About four hours later, Evans car was spotted near Meridian, Mississippi, and investigators say the suspect led them on a short chase before he was taken into custody.
Heidi's mother was still hospitalized as of Thursday morning from her injuries. The night before, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said she still need prayers from the community.
Law enforcement is still trying to determine a motive for the crime. Records from the South Carolina Department of Corrections show Evans had just been released from prison earlier this month.
Officials are working to extradite him back to South Carolina.