Police believe the father of an 11-year-old girl abducted her from the Dundalk home where her mother was found dead Thursday morning, and they launched a search that by nightfall extended from Baltimore to West Virginia.
Authorities issued an Amber Alert for Caitlyn Marie Virts, flashed her smiling, bespectacled image on billboards throughout the region and told motorists to be on the lookout for a black SUV. Investigators believe the girl is with her father, 38-year-old Timothy Virts.
“He is not supposed to have her, and we are concerned for her safety,” police spokeswoman Elise Armacost said. She did not say why authorities are concerned.
The girl’s mother, Bobbie Jo Cortez, 36, was found dead shortly after 9 a.m. in what police said was a violent scene at their home in the 3100 block of Ardee Way. Police said the death is being investigated as a homicide but did not say how Cortez died.
Police said Virts is a suspect in the abduction and investigators “want to talk to him” about Cortez’s death.
The parents had separated and Cortez married another man, police said, but Virts had been staying at the home in recent weeks. Three children also lived there, including Caitlyn’s twin sister and another boy, police said.
Caitlyn is 5 feet tall, weighs 80 pounds and might be wearing glasses, police said. Timothy Virts is 6-foot-3 and weighs 280 pounds. Both are white.
Police are looking for a black 1999 Dodge Durango with Maryland tag No. 5AJ4458. The vehicle is registered to 38-year-old Daniel Williams Cortez, who is married to Bobbie Jo and has been in jail since December on sex offense charges.
Daniel Cortez was convicted in 2009 of a fourth-degree sex offense, according to state records, and is on the state’s sex offender registry. He was indicted again Wednesday on additional sex offense charges.