DUNDALK, Md. (WJZ) — The Amber Alert is over for 11-year-old Caitlyn Virts. She and her father, Timothy Virts, were just found in South Carolina–alive.
Caitlyn is safe and her father is in custody.
Meghan McCorkell has the latest.
At 10:03 p.m., Baltimore County Police put out a message on Twitter, saying simply: “We found her.”
Both Caitlyn and Timothy Virts were found at a motel in Florence, South Carolina. Timothy Virts is now in police custody, and his daughter Caitlyn is safe.
A nationwide manhunt for 38-year-old Timothy Virts and his daughter 11-year-old Caitlyn Virts has ended.
“Timothy Virts and Caitlyn Virts were located in a motel in Florence, South Carolina. Obviously, Mr. Virts was taken into police custody. Caitlyn appears to be unharmed,” said Corporal John Wachter, Baltimore County Police.
Police believe Timothy Virts abducted his daughter from her Dundalk home Thursday morning. His ex-wife, Bobbie Jo Cortez, was found stabbed to death inside the home.
Baltimore County Police have now issued an arrest warrant for Timothy Virts for the murder of his ex-wife.
Two adults and two children were also inside the house at the time of the killing. It’s unclear why Virts took Caitlyn.
With the child missing for more than 37 hours, the FBI was called in to assist in the investigation.
“Obviously, our goal is to bring Caitlyn to safety and Timothy Virts to justice,” said Chief Jim Johnson, Baltimore County Police.
The FBI listed Timothy Virts on their Most Wanted List. The Amber Alert was expanded to three states–Maryland, West Virginia and North Carolina. Police followed up on dozens of leads.
“Investigators believe that the two being located is a direct result of an expanded Amber Alert that was put into place this afternoon,” Wachter said.
And Friday night, Timothy Virts is now in custody. His daughter Caitlyn is safe.
Baltimore County police officers are now headed to Florence, South Carolina.
Timothy Virts will be extradited back to Maryland to face first-degree murder charges.
Billboards across the region blasted pictures of 11-year-old Caitlyn Marie Virts and her father Timothy Virts. Police say he took her. They’ve been on an all-out search for both of them that includes West Virginia–where Timothy has connections– and North Carolina, where police there say he could be in the Garysburg, N.C., area.
It started around 9 a.m. Thursday when police say they found Caitlyn’s mother, Bobbie Jo Cortez, dead inside her home in Dundalk in the 3100-block of Ardee Way.
Virts and his daughter were nowhere to be found. They immediately launched an Amber Alert.
Bobbi Jo’s father, Daniel Wallace, is heartbroken.
“Bobbie Jo is my life,” Wallace said. “I will tell you one thing about the guy who took my granddaughter: he won’t go to jail. He’ll fight. He’s not goina give up.”
Bobbie Jo was married to a man named Daniel Cortez, who was recently arrested for sexually abusing a minor.
Caitlyn has a twin sister and a brother. Those children are safe.
The motive for the abduction is unclear, but police say all of them lived in the home with Daniel Cortez. Timothy Virts had been living in the home too for the past several weeks.
“We’re not sure if there is any connection at all with Cortez and his sexual offense charges and this case,” said Elise Armacost, Baltimore County Police.
Wallace does not believe it was the motive for the abduction.
“She didn’t know he was a child molester. His family didn’t tell her he was a child molester, and when she married him she had no idea until he molested her kids. Then the police told her,” Wallace said.
A neighbor, who asked WJZ not to show her face, may have been the last to see Bobbi Joe alive.
“She did something that I never seen her do before. She walked around the house. She never cared about what her outside looked like. She had a pink top on. That was the last I seen her. Not the children’s fault what happens between the parents,” the neighbor said.
Right now loved ones are praying for Caitlyn’s safe return.
“I don’t know what happened. Maybe he wanted money because he took her credit cards,” Wallace said. “He took everything out of her wallet.”
Timothy Virts’ father spoke to WJZ and had a strong message for his son.
“If he did what they say he did, then he’s guilty. He knows the price. But my granddaughter doesn’t have to pay that price,” said Peter Virts. “If he loves his daughter as much as he says he loves his daughter, he’ll turn her over to me.”
“Tell me where to pick ‘em up,” he continued. “It’ll be between him and I. He can go on his way. Then the cops just gotta do whatever they gotta do however they wanna do it.”
Police say Timothy Virts drove off in Cortez’s black Dodge Durango, bearing Maryland license plates 5AJ4458.
The vehicle has several identifying stickers, according to Baltimore County Police. There is a Ravens sticker in the upper left corner of the rear window. There is a Redskins sticker in the upper right corner of the rear window. There is a zombie family in the lower left corner of the rear window. There is a bumper sticker that says “protected by witchcraft” on the right rear bumper of the car.
Virts may have abandoned that Dodge Durango and switched out cars to a blue Ford Edge.
Virts’ father just wants his son to keep Caitlyn safe.
“I’ll always love him no matter what, but what he’s doing is wrong and he cannot include my granddaughter,” Peter Virts said. “He loves her. This is his oldest. He calls her his princess. Talk to me. Tell me where I can pick up my granddaughter.”
WJZ has learned that Timothy Virts has an extensive criminal record that dates back to 1999. He’s lost two separate child custody cases and was involved in a domestic violence case that earned him a restraining order in 2012.
Police have not said how the mother, Bobbie Jo Cortez, died, but said she had multiple cut wounds to her upper body. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday.
Wallace tells WJZ Caitlyn’s twin discovered her mother dead in the bedroom.
“We have had a violent scene that has left a woman dead. We are not sure what his involvement in that may have been and we know he is not supposed to have this child,” Armacost said. “So we have good reason to be concerned about her safety.”
Caitlyn is about 5 feet tall, 80 pounds and possibly wearing glasses. Timothy Virts is about 6’3″ and 280 pounds.
Anyone with information is asked to immediately call 911 or Baltimore County Police Department at 410-887-2020.
Do not take action which could endanger your safety or further endanger the abducted child.
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