Wednesday, 12 March 2014 12:56

Timothy Virts (left) faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of Bobbie Jo Cortez (center). Virts was arrested after allegedly abducting their daughter Caitlyn (right).

Missing girl, 11, found with help of Amber Alert

by Bill Gates

The nationwide search for a man suspected of abducting his daughter and murdering her mother  ended with a police officer knocking on a motel room door in South Carolina.
    Timothy H. Virts was arrested without incident on Friday night and waived extradition.
    His daughter, 11-year-old Caitlyn Virts, was rescued unharmed.
    Timothy Virts, 38, will be charged with first-degree murder in the death of his former girlfriend, Bobbie Jo Cortez.
    No arrest warrants had been filed as of Tuesday pending Virts’ return to Maryland.
    Police believe Virts allegedly killed Cortez on Wednesday some time before 6 p.m. in her home in the 3100 block of Ardee Way.
    Virts then allegedly took  Caitlyn, his daughter with Bobbie Jo, and fled in a 1999 Dodge Durango that belonged to Bobbie Jo’s current husband, Daniel W. Cortez.
    Police said Virts had been staying at the Cortez home at Bobbie Jo’s invitation.
    Daniel Cortez has been incarcerated since January on a variety of sex offense charges.
    An Amber Alert was issued for Caitlyn Virts on Thursday morning and the FBI became involved in the search for Virts and the missing girl.
    Baltimore County police revealed they had “credible information” Virts had been spotted in North Carolina on Thursday, indicating he was fleeing south.
    Virts was found after checking into a motel in Florence, S.C.
    The owner of the Colonial Motel told police Virts arrived on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and rented a room for himself and his daughter.
    The next evening, Friday, the owner saw the Amber Alert on Facebook and recognized the photos of Virts and Caitlyn.
    She contacted the local police. After the Dodge Durango was confirmed to be the one Virts was believed to be using, the area was secured and a SWAT team responded.
    Virts opened the door when an officer knocked, and was taken into custody.
    Bobbie Jo’s body was discovered on Thursday morning. She was reportedly bound with duct tape and suffering from multiple stab wounds to her upper body.
    At about the same time, the other occupants of the home — Caitlyn’s twin sister, a 13-year-old son and two adults — realized Timothy Virts and Caitlyn were missing along with the Dodge Durango.
    Police responded at 9:13 a.m. The Amber Alert was issued at 10:46 a.m.
    According to police, Caitlyn was believed to be in danger because she was not supposed to be with her father.
    No further details on why Caitlyn was not supposed to be with her father have been released.
    Virts had been living in the house for several weeks at Bobbie Jo’s request.
    As of press time on Tuesday, police did not have a possible motive for Bobbie Jo’s death.
    Daniel Cortez was indicted last week on charges of sexual abuse of a minor, attempted second-degree sex offense, second-degree sex offense, unnatural or perverted practice, second-degree assault and two counts of a third-degree sex offense.
    Cortez had previously been convicted of a fourth-degree sex offense in 2010, for which he served one year in prison and had to register on the Maryland Sex Offender Registry as a child sex offender.
    He and Bobbie Jo were married in October 2012.
    Baltimore County detectives have said they do not believe Cortez’ criminal history has anything to do with Bobbie Jo’s murder or Caitlyn’s abduction. Family members said Bobbie Jo was not aware of her husband’s history until the most recent incident occurred.
    Police also had no information as of press time on why Timothy Virts took Caitlyn instead of her sister or both daughters.
    Virts has no prior criminal convictions.
    He was a defendant in a 1994 paternity suit and was ordered to pay child support.
    In 2004, he and Bobbie Jo — then Bobbie Jo Wallace — were involved in a custody battle over other children with family members. The suing family members were awarded custody.
    Caitlyn returned to Maryland on Saturday evening and is currently with her siblings in the custody of social services personnel.
    State agencies will be involved in helping with decisions on her and her siblings’ future.