DUNDALK, Md. (WJZ) — Relief and joy. A little girl will soon be home after a nationwide search comes to an end. Authorities found Caitlyn Virts more than 400 miles from Baltimore in South Carolina.
Mike Hellgren spoke with family members, who are obviously relieved about Caitlyn’s safe return.
The Dodge Durango police described in the Amber Alert sits outside the Colonial Inn in Florence, S.C. —440 miles from Dundalk. That’s where police say Timothy Virts killed his ex-wife, Bobbie Jo Cortez, and fled with their daughter Caitlyn Thursday.
Virts was on the FBI’s Most Wanted List before a hotel clerk spotted him and called police.
“In my 36 years, I’ve never seen a greater degree of cooperation on a particular case. The coordination was absolutely stunning,” said Chief Jim Johnson, Baltimore County Police. “She appears to be unharmed.”
It’s a relief to the girl’s paternal grandfather, Peter Virts.
“They want to know why Caitlyn wasn’t trying to get help. It’s because she didn’t know she was kidnapped,” Virts said. “She would do anything her Daddy said. If her Daddy said, ‘Stay in the truck while I go do this,’ she would do that.”
Police say they are still unsure why Virts headed south down Interstate 95.
Hellgren: “Did he have any ties to South Carolina, or do you think he just headed south?”
Virts: “He just headed south. I had relatives down there, but they don’t know him.”
He believes his son was headed to Disney World.
“He probably knew he only had a little bit of time and he wanted to give her something good before everything went down,” Peter Virts said.
Police have not revealed Timothy Virts’ motive for killing his ex-wife. Sources say Caitlyn’s twin sister found her bound and stabbed in her bedroom.
“Obviously, this was a very violent and brutal murder and this individual’s mental and emotional health state obviously is questionable,” Chief Johnson said.
“I’m not worried about my son. My son’s a grown man. He went off. I don’t think he meant to go off that deep, but he did,” Peter Virts said.
Virts is not fighting extradition to Maryland. Officials say that process typically takes between seven and 12 days.
Johnson says his detectives are in South Carolina, and will bring him back to face charges. He praised the work of the FBI in bringing this case to a close.
“We just used every tool we had,” said FBI special agent Steve Vogt.” We attempted to track where Mr. Virts may be going, and we were very concerned for the safety of Caitlyn. That was the number one, was to get her back.”
Police say they did recover the weapon used to murder Caitlyn’s mom. She remains in Social Services custody.
Police say it appears Caitlyn was unharmed.
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