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Police and Fire News

Baltimore County Police and Fire News

Official News Blog of Baltimore County police, fire, homeland security and emergency management. Call 911 to report crimes in progress and emergencies.
Keyword: bobbie jo cortez

Timothy Howard Virts has waived extradition from South Carolina. BCoPD is working with South Carolina authorities on logistics involved with his return; they are uncertain exactly when that will occur.

Virts will be charged upon his return to Maryland with first degree murder in the killing of Bobbie Jo Cortez, found dead Thursday morning in her bedroom in the 3100 block of Ardee Way in Dundalk. Police believe Virts killed Bobbie Jo on Wednesday, some time before 6 p.m. Shortly after 6 a.m. Thursday, police believe, Virts fled with his and Bobbie Jo's 11-year-old daughter, Caitlyn. He and Caitlyn were located Friday evening in a motel in Florence, SC, after a nationwide search.

Homicide detectives flew to South Carolina after Virts' arrest there. Detectives continue to interview Virts, who agreed to talk to them. Details of their conversations are withheld due to the ongoing investigation.

Police continue to explore all aspects of this situation, including Virts' relationships with Bobbie Jo Cortez and their children. (Caitlyn, her twin sister and a 13-year-old brother are believed to have been at the Ardee Way home at the time their mother was killed.)

Caitlyn Virts

Police have been informed by officials at the county's Department of Health and Human Services that Caitlyn returned to Maryland Saturday evening. She was reunited with her siblings, all of whom are in the custody of social services officials.

Caitlyn appears to be unharmed physically. Baltimore County Government will provide all available resources to her and her siblings.

911 Tapes & Arrest Warrant

The 911 tapes for this call are being withheld due to the ongoing investigation.

The arrest warrant charging Timothy Virts with first degree murder is not yet public because it has not been served. Virts will be served with the warrant upon his return to Maryland.

Today Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson reaffirmed that Caitlyn Virts is safe and that Baltimore County Police, Baltimore County's Department of Health and Human Services and the FBI will provide all available resources to help her and her siblings.

Caitlyn's mother, Bobbie Jo Cortez, 36, was found murdered Thursday morning in her bedroom in the 3100 block of Ardee Way in Dundalk. Caitlyn's father, Timothy Virts -- who fled with Caitlyn after the killing and was found in South Carolina last night -- is charged with first-degree murder. He will be extradited to face prosecution in Maryland; the extradition process can take weeks.

At a press briefing this morning, Chief Johnson said that the FBI Baltimore Division's participation in the investigation was pivotal in locating Timothy and Caitlyn Virtz. Representatives of FBI's Baltimore Division, including Special Agent in Charge Steve Vogt, participated in this morning's briefing.

Johnson said he was "incredibly relieved" that Caitlyn has been found safe, and credited citizen "keyboard crimefighters" with paying attention to the search and helping law enforcement by calling in "thousands" of tips.

Here is a summary of the information Chief Johnson provided:

Caitlyn Virtz

Police in Florence, South Carolina found Caitlyn last night, with her father, at the Colonial Motel, just off of I-95. She appears to be unharmed.

"Of course," Johnson said, "this child and her siblings have endured a terrible trauma and a terrible tragedy. Baltimore County Government and other agencies will provide all the resources possible to help them deal with the aftermath."

Baltimore County social services personnel are working with social services personnel in South Carolina, and Caitlyn will return to Maryland in the near future. State agencies will be involved in helping with decisions about the children's future.

Sequence of Events

Police responded just after 9 a.m. Thursday to the home on Ardee Way, where Bobbie Jo Cortez was found, murdered, in her bedroom. Bobbie Jo's daughter, Caitlyn was missing. Police quickly determined that Timothy Virts, Caitlyn’s father, had taken her and fled in a 1999 Dodge Durango. An Amber Alert was issued Thursday morning.

Between Thursday morning and the time Virts was found in South Carolina last night, BCoPD detectives worked round the clock fielding and tracking down hundreds of tips and leads.  None of these tips and leads panned out until yesterday afternoon.  A critical turning point, Johnson said, was the FBI’s entrance into this case. The FBI helped broaden this search and extend the reach of the Amber Alert and other notification tools.

Late yesterday afternoon, we received credible information that Virts was in North Carolina. This gave BCoPD for the first time an idea that he was headed south.

Last night, BCoPD received notification from the Florence (SC) Police Dept that the Dodge Durango driven by Virtz had been located at the Colonial Motel. Johnson referred inquiries about the apprehension of Timothy Virts to Florence Police and thanked them for the crucial role they played in this case. Johnson noted that Florence police reported that Virts was arrested without incident.

The investigation into Bobbie Jo Cortez' murder remains active, and BCoPD are not providing additional details at this time.

FBI officials said that a charge of unlawful flight against Virts likely will be dropped; an unlawful flight warrant primarily is a tool allowing the FBI to arrest a wanted suspect anywhere in the U.S.

Notification Tools

"This was a situation whose successful outcome is a direct result of the emergency notification tools that helped the public and other law enforcement agencies identify Timothy Virts and the Dodge Durango," Johnson said.

Johnson said BCoPD was told by police in Florence that a clerk at the Colonial Motel had seen notification about Caitlyn Virts’ disappearance on Facebook and contacted the authorities..

"This case really illustrates the value of multiple platforms for notifying people of emergency situations – in this case, the Amber Alert, mainstream media, social media, the billboards and posters distributed by the FBI," Johnson said. " Citizens who follow these notifications and call in tips truly are keyboard crime fighters, and we are immensely grateful for their participation in this crisis."

Johnson also thanked the many law enforcement partners who assisted with this case: the  FBI, Florence (SC) Police Department, Maryland State Police and other law enforcement agencies throughout the region.

The FBI has issued a warrant for Timothy Virts' arrest for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

This warrant is in addition to the warrant for Virts' arrest on first-degree murder charges, issued this morning by Baltimore County Police.

The FBI's warrant gives federal authorities the ability to arrest Virts anywhere in the United States.

A copy of the FBI's "wanted" poster for Virts is available on the FBI Baltimore Division web site.

Timothy Virts is suspected of killing Bobbie Jo Cortez yesterday in her home in Dundalk and fleeing with their 11-year-old daughter, Caitlyn. See earlier blog posts for details.

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