BALTIMORE (AP) — The father of a missing Maryland girl now faces a murder charge in the death of the girl’s mother and a search has expanded nationwide for father and daughter, police said Friday.
Baltimore County police obtained a warrant charging Timothy Virts with first-degree murder in the slaying of 36-year-old Bobbie Jo Cortez.
Her body was found at her Dundalk home Thursday morning. Their daughter, 11-year-old Caitlyn Virts, has been missing, along with her father, since then.
Cortez had multiple cuts to her upper body, police said. An autopsy was scheduled Friday.
Police spokeswoman Elise Armacost would not say what kind of weapon was used to kill Cortez. She said probable cause for the murder charge was based on physical evidence and interviews with people in the house at the time Cortez was killed.
Caitlyn’s twin sister and Cortez’s young son, as well as two other adults, were also living at the home. Armacost said Timothy Virts had been staying there too, for the past several weeks.
Armacost said Virts, 38, has not been found locally and investigators believe it is reasonable suspect that he has left the state.
The FBI said Friday that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland has charged Virts with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. The agency said it is searching nationwide for Caitlyn and Virts and is working to put up digital billboards across the country on the search.
An Amber Alert issued in Maryland was expanded late Thursday to include West Virginia, but Armacost said authorities had no evidence that Virts had fled to that state.
Authorities said anyone who sees Caitlyn, Virts or the vehicle Virts is believed to be driving should call 911. Virts may be armed and is dangerous.
He may be driving a black 1999 Dodge Durango with Maryland plates 5AJ4458.
Associated press writer Jessica Gresko in Washington contributed to this report.