Maryland police provide more details about deaths of four, including two girls kidnapped from York County
A desperate search for two little girls who were abducted by their father in York County ended tragically Thursday in an apparent murder-suicide with both girls dead.
Police in Pennsylvania and Maryland had been searching for ex-Baltimore County cop Robert Vicosa, his daughters, 6-year-old Aaminah and 7-year-old Giana, and his alleged accomplice, Baltimore County Sgt. Tia Bynum, during a four-day manhunt.
All were discovered shot inside a stolen Ford Edge following a police pursuit in which the car drifted off the road about 2:30 p.m. Thursday and crashed in a shallow ditch outside the small town of Ringgold, Maryland, just south of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania.
Vicosa and one of his daughters, who were both in the back seat, and Bynum, the driver, died at the scene, while the other juvenile, who was also sitting in the back, later died at Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown, Maryland.
Maryland State Police spokesperson Elena Russo declined to say if investigators believe the shots were fired by the adults in the car. Police found an assault rifle and other firearms in the vehicle. The four have been taken to the Baltimore Chief Medical Examiner's Office for autopsy, Maryland State Police said.
Pennsylvania police were closing in on the vehicle as it headed south toward the Maryland line before it veered off of the road and struck a culvert in a grassy area along Route 418/Ringgold Road in Smithsburg.
Maryland police surrounded the vehicle and tried but failed to make contact with the people inside. They eventually broke the front passenger side window and discovered four individuals who appeared to have gunshot wounds, police said.
Vicosa and Bynum had been on the run after the father allegedly abducted his daughters and brutally assaulted the children's mother at his Windsor Township home the previous weekend.
Vicosa, 41, and Bynum, 36, allegedly tied the girls' mother up at gunpoint. She was held captive in the basement of his home, and Vicosa repeatedly sexually assaulted her until she escaped, according to charging documents.
York Area Regional Police attempted to carry out a search warrant at the York County home on Nov. 15, but Vicosa and the girls were gone when they arrived, police said.
Law enforcement in Maryland and Pennsylvania pleaded with Vicosa and Bynum for days to do the right thing and return the girls safely.
Vicosa and Bynum were close friends and former co-workers. They were described by police during the hunt as armed and dangerous, with Aaminah and Giana in extreme danger.
Vicosa's crime spree stretched from Windsor Township to Cockeysville, Maryland, as the pair robbed and carjacked the people they encountered while on the run, police said.
Bynum was wanted on a misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment. Vicosa was wanted for a felony arrest warrant for kidnapping and robbery along with a misdemeanor simple assault charge for a carjacking on Huson Road in Windsor Township.
The former Baltimore sergeant, who changed his name in 2015 from Robert Brown, was demoted last year to officer by a police trial board that also stripped him of 45 days of leave, The Baltimore Sun reported. He had been accused of insubordination, sleeping on the job and refusing to be trained and to perform his duties.
Baltimore County Police then fired Vicosa in August following a series of administrative charges including sexual inappropriateness with female subordinates, watching inappropriate videos in their presence and making sexual remarks and leering.
Bynum worked in the department’s Criminal Investigations Bureau, “a specialized unit that investigates the most serious crimes,” according to the newspaper.
On Friday, the children's mother declined a request for comment.
What happened: The children's mother went to Vicosa's home in Windsor Township about 9 p.m. Nov. 12 after he invited her over to have cake with the girls, court documents state. Vicosa and the children's mother shared custody.
After the family was finished eating cake and the girls went upstairs to bed, Vicosa allegedly asked the mother to stay as she was getting ready to leave, telling her he had a birthday gift for her.
Vicosa appeared to be looking for the gift, and the next thing the woman knew, he and Bynum had grabbed her by the arms, police said.
"A female came out and grabbed me on one side while he grabbed me on the other side. He put a gun to my head," the mother told police in court documents.
The woman screamed as he and Bynum dragged her to the basement and tied her wrists with zip ties and a rope for her ankles, according to court documents.
She was then allegedly drugged, forced to inhale a crushed-up pill of OxyContin and smoke marijuana. Hours later, the three then went upstairs to Vicosa's bedroom, where he raped the mother that night and Saturday.
Vicosa threatened a murder-suicide of the whole family and said he would rather they be dead than to live apart.
"He stated that if the police arrive, he would kill everyone before they even have a chance to enter," the woman said.
York Area Regional Police were contacted by Springettsbury Township Police about 3:50 p.m. Nov. 14 after the mother was able to leave the home and report that she had been violently assaulted for over 24 hours, police said.
"She had managed to get him to let her leave to get some items (Nov. 14)," court documents state. The mother drove to Target to get help. "She believed that he had tracking devices on her vehicle and her phone, which were both still in the Target parking lot."
Springettsbury police drove the woman to York Area Regional Police because that department covers Windsor Township.
"They drove her to us to start this investigation so that her car and her phone could not be tracked," said York Area Regional Police Lt. Ken Schollenberger.
Police served a search warrant at the home the next day and discovered the house in disarray. The windows were shattered, and officers found an emaciated dog, but not Vicosa or the girls.
Officers went to Bynum’s house about four miles away in Windsor Township after tracking Vicosa's phone to her place. Police described Bynum as “less than forthcoming” when they talked to her that Monday, Nov. 15.
She told police she left when Vicosa and the woman went into his bedroom, where the rape occurred, according to charging documents.
Vicosa had fled with the girls in a stolen 2015 Black Acura TL that belongs to Bynum's sister. Police launched a manhunt for Vicosa and the girls.
Police plead for girls: Law enforcement on Thursday morning again had pleaded with Vicosa and Bynum to do the right thing and let the children go safely.
“We know that you are tired. We want to work with you on a safe and peaceful resolution,” said Chief Melissa Hyatt with Baltimore County Police. “The priority for all of us is getting these two children, Giana and Aaminah, safely.”
During the manhunt, police connected Vicosa and Bynum to an armed robbery in the Cockeysville area in Maryland. Vicosa, armed with a semi-automatic handgun, kidnapped and carjacked a man Wednesday afternoon while his two daughters and Bynum were present, police said.
Before that, on Tuesday, Vicosa had carjacked a woman on Huson Road in Windsor Township after crashing the black Acura into shallow creek, police said. Vicosa took the woman's phone and left with the children in her silver Volkswagen Jetta after the trio spent the night in a camper on her property.
Investigators tracked the stolen phone to the area of East Lancaster Street, in Red Lion, where Vicosa ditched the Volkswagen, police said.
Vicosa used the woman's phone and called Bynum exclusively, according to charging documents. Officers served a search warrant at Bynum's home, but she and her car were nowhere to be found.
It wouldn't be until Thursday afternoon that police would locate Bynum's body, along with those of Vicosa and his daughters, in a car resting in a shallow roadside ditch in Maryland.
Reach Harper Ho at email@example.com or on Twitter at @howdyhoharper.
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