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Multi-Day Manhunt Ends with Two Young Girls and Two Ex-Police Officers Dead in Apparent Murder-Suicide

Robert Vicosa and Tia Bynum

Robert Vicosa and Tia Bynum

The multi-day manhunt for a former Maryland police officer accused of kidnapping his two young daughters and assaulting their mother came to a tragic end Thursday afternoon when police found him, the children, and an alleged female accomplice dead in an apparent triple murder-suicide. Ex-Baltimore County Police Department (BCPD) Officer Robert Vicosa, 42, his daughters, Aaminah Vicosa, 6, and Giana Vicosa, 7, and 35-year-old Tia Bynum were all fatally shot in an SUV following a brief car chase, police said.

Pennsylvania State Police contacted Maryland State Police after attempting a traffic stop on a vehicle matching the description of the one Vicosa reportedly used to commit a series of crimes with Bynum.

Bynum was a BCPD sergeant who was suspended due to her involvement in the kidnapping, said Maryland State Police public information officer Elena Russo during a Thursday evening press conference. Shortly after the vehicle crossed over the state line from Pennsylvania into Maryland, the car reportedly veered off of the road and crashed into a fence. Smoke from the crash made it difficult to see what was happening in the car, Russo said.

After Maryland police unsuccessfully attempted to contact the occupants inside the vehicle, officers broke one of the car windows.

“Our crisis negotiation team made several attempts to contact the occupants of the vehicle,” Russo said. “After receiving no response and low visibility inside the vehicle because of a thick layer of smoke that was contained in the interior of the vehicle, police made entry into the passenger side.”

Inside the vehicle, authorities reportedly found Bynum in the driver’s seat and Vicosa in the back with his daughters. All four had been shot. Vicosa, Bynum, and one of the girls were pronounced dead on the scene. The other child was airlifted to a hospital in Hagerstown but pronounced dead shortly after her arrival.

The crime spree reportedly began on Sunday, when Vicosa allegedly went to the home of his estranged wife and assaulted her multiple times over the course of 24 hours, The Associated Press reported. She was eventually able to escape and call the police, but when officers arrived at her home Vicosa had reportedly fled with the little girls.

Authorities traced Vicosa’s cell phone to Bynum’s house. She was reportedly uncooperative; when officers returned to the residence with a warrant, she was gone.

Vicosa and the girls didn’t turn up again until Tuesday, when he allegedly held a woman at gunpoint. The woman caught him and the girls hiding out in her trailer in Felten, Pennsylvania.

“It was very terrifying,” the woman, whose name is not being reported, told Baltimore NBC affiliate WBAL-TV. “He came out of the camper and he had a towel wrapped around him … He had the gun on me. I stood right there and I (held my hands up) … He wanted to tie me. ‘Anything in the camper to tie you up?’ I said, ‘No, I don’t.’ I said, ‘Take my car’ (and) got my keys, gave them to him.”

Vicosa reportedly stole the woman’s phone and car before leaving.

Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt said Vicosa and Bynum on Wednesday kidnapped a Maryland driver at gunpoint and forced him to drive them to multiple locations where crimes were committed.

“We believe that these two suspects committed a kidnapping in Baltimore County yesterday afternoon in Cockeysville, which is in the northern area of Baltimore County,” Hyatt said during a Thursday morning press conference. “During the incident, these suspects, who were armed with a handgun, carjacked an individual, forcing him to drive these two suspects throughout several different locations across the Baltimore metropolitan area. This victim was later released unharmed.”

Vicosa’s daughters were reportedly with the pair during the carjacking.

Vicosa was a 17-year veteran of the BCPD. He was demoted before being fired in August for “sleeping on the job, insubordination and conduct unbecoming of an officer,” Baltimore CBS affiliate WJZ reported.

Authorities have not released any possible motive for Vicosa’s sudden crime spree, nor did they immediately provide specific details on the nature of the relationship between him and Bynum. York Area Regional Police Lt. Ken Schollenberger described Bynum as a “close friend” of Vicosa’s, with whom she worked.

[image via BCPD]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.