BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Ex-Baltimore County police officer Robert Vicosa, both the daughters he’s accused of kidnapping, and an accomplice, Sgt. Tia Bynum, were found dead Thursday after a days-long manhunt, sources told WJZ.
Police began a search for Vicosa after they say he attacked his estranged wife, held her captive and abducted the couple’s 6- and 7-year-old daughters, Aaminah and Giana.READ MORE: DEVELOPING: Vehicle Driven By Robert Vicosa Reportedly Found In Western Maryland
Investigators believe Vicosa received help from Tia Bynum, a Baltimore County police sergeant and former co-worker. She was suspended from duty in response to her involvement in the case.
Below is a brief timeline of the investigation:
Sunday: Robert Vicosa’s estranged wife called 911 to report she had been violently assaulted at her home in Windsor Township, Pennsylvania, police said. She said she was held captive for 24 hours or more, and her estranged husband had taken off with her 6- and 7-year-old daughters, Aaminah and Giana. Because she had been told her phone and car might be tracked, she drove to a neighboring jurisdiction, where authorities put her in touch with the York Area Regional Police Department.
Monday: Police executed a search warrant at the Windsor Township home, which was ransacked and vacant. “The house was in disarray, the window in the back was completely shattered out and there was a dog left behind. It was emaciated and looked like it was malnourished. Nobody was left in the home,” police said. Police learned that Vicosa might be driving a black Acura TL that belonged to a relative of his friend and former co-worker, Baltimore County Police Sgt. Tia Bynum.
After pinging Vicosa’s cellphone at Bynum’s home, investigators went by the home in search of Vicosa, police said. Investigators spoke with Bynum, who was described as “less than forthcoming.” Police said Bynum did not give them permission to search her home.
Tuesday: Police returned to the Windsor Township home of Vicosa’s estranged wife, where they found everything as they had left it. Later, investigators learned of a woman in Red Lion Borough who had been held hostage. The woman said she was confronted by an armed Vicosa after she found a partially submerged Acura in a canal near her home. She handed over her phone, the keys to her Volkswagen Jetta and blankets for him and the children.
Police traced the carjacking victim’s phone to a location on East Lancaster Street in Red Lion, where they found the Volkswagen abandoned. After searching a nearby home, police realized it was a dead end. Investigators later traced Vicosa’s phone to Bynum’s home, but a search of the residence found no sign of Vicosa, the children, Bynum or Bynum’s vehicle. Police aren’t sure if Vicosa and his daughters are with Bynum or her vehicle, but they aren’t ruling out the possibility.
Wednesday: York Area Regional Police hold a news conference to provide on an update on the status of their investigation. They said their efforts are focused on finding Vicosa’s daughters, Aaminah and Gianna.
Separately, WJZ has confirmed with the Baltimore County Police Department that Sgt. Bynum has been suspended from duty as a result of her connection to the Vicosa investigation.
Thursday: Baltimore County police announce Vicosa and Bynum allegedly committed a kidnapping and armed carjacking in Cockeysville on Wednesday. The pair allegedly forced a man at gunpoint to drive them to several locations around the Baltimore area, and then released the victim unharmed.
During a joint press conference, Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt and York Area Regional Police Chief Timothy Damon implored the couple to return the children safely.
“I want to plead to Rob that we would like you to put Gigi and Mina in a safe place, where we can ensure their safe return and safety overall,” Damon said. “They do not need to be involved in this, and we want to ensure that the two girls, your girls, are safe.”
Hyatt directly addressed Bynum.
“Tia, our priority is the safety and wellbeing of Giana and Aaminah,” she said. “Please, get these two innocent and precious children to a safe location. You can drop them off at a public safety facility or any other safe location with a responsible adult to care for them. Their wellbeing and safety is everyone’s priority. We know that you are tired. We want to work with you on a safe and peaceful resolution.”
In the afternoon, authorities in Western Maryland located the grey Ford Edge that Vicosa and Bynum had hijacked and found the bodies of Vicosa, Bynum and both of Vicosa’s daughters, sources said. All four were dead of gunshot wounds.
At a press conference around 7:00 p.m., Maryland State Police spokesperson Elena Russo said Pennsylvania State Police began pursuing a vehicle suspected of being involved in two incidents.
Near Smithsburg, Maryland, the vehicle ran off the road and into a fence line, Russo said.
Later Thursday evening, the Maryland State Police put out a news release with additional details about what they described as an apparent murder and suicide. Pennsylvania State Police alerted their Maryland counterparts of the pursuit around 2:30 p.m. and said the vehicle was traveling south on Ringgold Pike at the Maryland-Pennsylvania Line.
Pennsylvania state troopers attempted to initiate a traffic stop shortly before the vehicle crashed. Maryland State Police were on the scene “within seconds” of the crash, according to the release.
Troopers surrounded the vehicle and tried to make contact with the people inside but were unsuccessful. About 15 minutes later, troopers from the Special Tactical Assault Team Element (S.T.A.T.E.) and the Crisis Negotiation Team arrived on the scene and tried asking the occupants to exit the vehicle.
After not getting a response, members of the S.T.A.T.E. team fired two 40mm sponge rounds to break the glass of the front passenger side window; police said it was hard to see into the vehicle due to window tinting and interior fogging.
Troopers found Bynum in the driver’s seat suffering from a gunshot wound. Vicosa was in the backseat with his two daughters, all suffering from gunshot wounds.
Vicosa, Bynum, and one child were pronounced dead at the scene. The other child was transported to Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown, where she was pronounced dead.
Investigators found an assault rifle and other firearms inside the Ford Edge.