JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. — Authorities are using helicopters and divers to search for a 4-year-old girl missing after her mother was found badly beaten in her coastal South Carolina home.
Police went to the house around 6 p.m. Tuesday after a school called officials and said no one had picked up two of the mother’s children, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said.
Officers found the mother “brutally beaten” but did not find Heidi, Tecklenburg said. Two other children were found in the home unharmed, the mayor said.
The woman said she was attacked as she returned home, but investigators don’t know exactly when that was or where she had gone, Tecklenburg said.
Police released a sketch of a man they called a person of interest. He has flames and a lightning bolt tattooed on his face. Tecklenburg said he was seen in the neighborhood in the days before the girl disappeared.
The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward and a person who asked to remain anonymous added an additional $10,000, police said.
Local, state and federal officers have an ongoing massive search around the Johns Island home, Tecklenburg said.
“We are looking for her in every nook and cranny. We’ve had divers in the lake, helicopters flying,” Tecklenburg said at a news conference.
The mother could only give police a limited description of the man who beat her, interim Charleston Police Chief Jerome Taylor said.
Police have not figured out if the woman knew the man who attacked her or if he had any link to the family, Taylor said.
“It was an unwanted guest. She didn’t invite anyone into the residence,” Taylor said.
The child’s father was out of town training with the Coast Guard when Heidi disappeared and has returned, Tecklenburg said.
Authorities have not issued an Amber Alert because of a lack of information on a possible suspect and uncertainty over whether the girl was kidnapped or not.
“Please join us and the Todd family in prayers for Heidi and her safety,” said Tecklenburg, who met with the family at the hospital where the mother is being treated.
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