Investigators looking into 4-year-old Heidi Todd’s kidnapping want to talk with the woman whose car has been linked to a suspect in the case, but the woman's mother said Thursday that she is missing.
Sharon Nannette Hayden, 39, lives in Spartanburg County, where officials said Thomas Lawton Evans was staying after his prison release early this month.
But two days before police said he abducted Heidi, Evans was found in Berkeley County with Hayden’s car, raising questions among deputies there about whether he had the vehicle legally.
That day, authorities went to Hayden’s home in Boiling Springs to check on her, but she wasn’t around. Evans was allowed to go.
Hayden's whereabouts have remained unknown, her mother and officials said.
“I just want to know whether my daughter is OK,” said her mother, Sharon Jowers of North Charleston. “All we can do is hope.”
The latest development deepened the mystery behind the Johns Island kidnapping that captured broad attention last week amid a frantic search for Heidi, whose rescue brought relief to her family and observers nationwide. But it has sparked a new concern among Hayden's family.
Charleston Police Department “investigators want to know if (Hayden) has any information about the incident,” spokesman Charles Francis confirmed Thursday.
The FBI, which is leading the kidnapping probe, declined to comment on specifics.
“In all investigations of this type, you’re trying to fill in some blank spaces and fill in the timeline,” said Supervisory Special Agent Donald Wood of the bureau’s Columbia field office. “We continue to do that in Mr. Evans’ case. ... We’re looking at all possible places ... including associates ... to get a better picture of our suspect.”
Evans was transferred Tuesday from a jail in Mississippi, where he was captured last week. But officials have not said where he was taken.
The FBI said he showed up Feb. 13 at the Todds' home on Sweetleaf Lane on Johns Island. Heidi's mother was attacked from behind as she returned home. She was brutally beaten, and Heidi was kidnapped. The girl was rescued the next day in Alabama, and Evans was caught in Mississippi after a police chase.
The mother's condition was not clear Thursday. A Medical University Hospital spokesman said he had no information to release on the woman.
Evans was expected to be arraigned in U.S. District Court in Charleston on his federal kidnapping charge.
State prosecutors also expect to file charges against him.
Evans, who has a violent criminal past, had been freed from prison Feb. 1 to serve the rest of a 10-year sentence on state supervision in Spartanburg County. State probation agents said they did not check on him during the short time since his release.
Though he is from Berkeley County, it was unclear why he had made his way to the Charleston area. Officials said he targeted the Todd family at random.
Hayden also has ties to the Lowcountry. She has a minor arrest history in Charleston and Dorchester counties, state records showed, along with a 2016 misdemeanor prostitution conviction in Spartanburg County.
Her mother said she and her daughter have had little contact in recent years after a personal falling-out. Jowers said she first learned of her daughter's link to Evans on Wednesday as details of his encounter with Berkeley County deputies emerged.
Evans left her Honda Civic parked along a rural road near St. Stephen on Feb. 11 as he went looking for gas, prompting suspicion among neighbors. Berkeley County deputies found him nearby. Though Evans' license was suspended, the authorities hadn't seen him driving and didn't arrest him; he said his brother was coming to pick up the Honda, a report stated. The deputies left.
Spartanburg County deputies, meanwhile, went to Hayden's home on Caston Circle in Boiling Springs, just north of Spartanburg. They found no one there.
The mention of that address in a news report caught Jowers' attention, and she called authorities.
"The police couldn't tell me much," Jowers said. "I'm just worried about her."