Police Chief Tim Damon faces private criminal complaint in Vicosa murder-suicide

York Dispatch

York County District Attorney Dave Sunday confirmed Monday that a multi-agency review of the handling of the murder of the Vicosa sisters would be coming — even as the community reels from the tragic loss of life.

Meanwhile, York Area Regional Police Chief Timothy Damon faces a private criminal complaint, filed Nov. 15, in relation to his agency's handling of a protection-from-abuse order against Robert Vicosa. The state allows individuals to file private criminal complaints that are reviewed by local district attorneys to determine whether further action is merited.

Sunday said he'd referred the matter to the state Attorney General's Office due to his prior knowledge of the matter. He declined comment on the allegations in the private complaint — which was not available Monday — and did not disclose who'd filed it.

York Area Regional had no comment on the complaint against Damon, who could not be reached Monday.

Vicosa, 41, a former Baltimore County cop, abducted his daughters, 6-year-old Aaminah and 7-year-old Giana, last week from a home in Windsor Township with the help of an alleged accomplice, Baltimore County Sgt. Tia Bynum.

Robert Vicosa

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.

A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office confirmed that the office had received the private criminal complaint and is in the process of investigating.

"Like all Pennsylvanians, we hope York County officials’ announcement of a committee to review what led up to these tragic events will get to the bottom of what happened here to ensure it never happens again," office spokesperson Jacklin Rhoads said.

Sunday also declined to comment on whether law enforcement did enough to execute the PFA order and possibly avert the tragedy.

York Area Regional Police Chief Tim Damon, joined by Spring Garden Township Police Chief George Swartz (left) and York County District Attorney Dave Sunday (right) speaks at a press conference about the county's new co-responder program on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021.

"There are tactical and strategic decisions that police make every day," the district attorney said, "and those are questions that would have to go to the individuals that made those decisions."

In his comments, Sunday called Vicosa's actions a "selfish and senseless act of violence that has shaken each and every one of us to our core." 

Sunday said the community must vehemently and aggressively attack domestic violence. The events that led to the murder-suicide began as domestic violence, he said. 

York County District Attorney Dave Sunday and First Deputy District Attorney Kara Bowser appear during a press conference at the York County Administrative Center Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, regarding the apparent Vicosa-family murder/suicide. Bill Kalina photo

In collaboration with the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, the Child Abduction Response Effort Team and others including the York Area Regional Police, the district attorney's office will establish a committee to review best practices, procedures and protocols for the safe execution of PFAs and any other means of safely enforcing domestic violence laws.

"The reality is, there is evil in this, and on even the very best of days and circumstances, law enforcement cannot prevent every instance of evil or thwart every plan," Sunday said. "But when tragedy occurs, we must identify any means that may exist to minimize outcomes such as this."

A memorial for sisters Aaminah, 6, and Giana Vicosa, 7, appears at Windsor Wonderland Playground Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. Their father, Robert Vicosa, his alleged accomplice and the girls were killed in an apparent murder-suicide in Baltimore County following a four-day manhunt that began with an abduction at Vicosa's Windsor Township home. Bill Kalina photo

As public officials and first responders, Sunday said, it's their responsibility to do a deep dive to understand what happened, when it happened, if different choices could be made and what to do in the future to minimize the probability of a tragic outcome.

When asked if the details of that analysis would be made public or if an outside or independent consultant would do that analysis, Sunday said the situation was still very fluid and that is still to be determined.

Communities in both York County and Baltimore were still reeling from the multistate manhunt that culminated in the deaths. Over the weekend, a memorial was created for the girls at the Windsor Wonderland Playground, not far from where they were abducted by their father.

In a statement of solidarity Monday, various nonprofits devoted to children's justice, domestic violence prevention and victim advocates expressed their anger and sorrow over the deaths of Aaminah and Giana, as well as the rape of their mother by Vicosa.

"We underscore that Giana and Aaminah, like too many children in Pennsylvania and across the United States, remain unshielded from domestic and sexual violence," the statement reads. "Such violence is omnipresent and still too normalized in our families, schools, workplaces, houses of worship and society overall.

"We vow the loss of Giana and Aaminah will not result in momentary mourning, but rather will renew and strengthen our resolve to protect children and prevent violence in homes and communities."

A memorial for sisters Aaminah, 6, and Giana Vicosa, 7, appears at Windsor Wonderland Playground Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. Their father, Robert Vicosa, his alleged accomplice and the girls were killed in an apparent murder-suicide in Baltimore County following a four-day manhunt that began with an abduction at Vicosa's Windsor Township home. Bill Kalina photo