DUNDALK, Md. (WJZ) — The murder of a Baltimore County mother sparked a nationwide Amber Alert. Now charging documents reveal Bobbie Jo Cortez may have been dead for 24 hours before her ex-husband disappeared with their daughter.

Meghan McCorkell has more on a potential motive in the killing.

Investigators say on the day his ex-wife was found dead, Timothy Virts was supposed to attend a custody hearing where he may have lost visitation with his twin daughters.

The subject of a multi-state manhunt, Virts, 38, is now behind bars in Baltimore County, charged with murdering his ex-wife. Investigators say he stabbed Cortez multiple times, then kidnapped their 11-year-old daughter, Caitlyn.

“Our goal is to bring Caitlyn to safety and Timothy Virts to justice,” said Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson.

According to charging documents, a roommate says she last saw Cortez on Wednesday morning inside her Dundalk home. Around 7 p.m. that night, Caitlyn’s twin sister asked to see her mother to tuck her into bed, but investigators say Virts merely laughed at her.

Around 3:40 a.m. Thursday, a roommate spotted Virts–who was temporarily staying at the house–asleep on a couch.

Just after 9 a.m., Caitlyn’s twin used a butter knife to pry open her mother’s locked bedroom door and found Cortez’s body.

That’s when people realized Virts and Caitlyn had disappeared. A nationwide Amber Alert was launched as family members pleaded for the child’s safe return.

“If he did what they say he did, then he’s guilty. Then he knows the price but my granddaughter don’t have to pay that price,” Peter Virts said.

Late Friday night, Virts and his daughter were found at a motel in South Carolina. A motel clerk recognized Caitlyn and her father from the Amber Alert and called police.

Caitlyn has been reunited with her siblings.

Virts faces life in prison. He has waived a bail review and will remain in the Baltimore County Detention Center.

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