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Ex-Baltimore Police Officer Who'd Been On The Run Kills Himself, His Daughters And His Cop Girlfriend
Robert Vicosa left a trail of victims in Maryland and Pennsylvania after abducting his daughters and raping his ex-wife, authorities said.
A parental abduction case touched off a two-state crime spree in Maryland and Pennsylvania that ultimately ended in tragedy on Thursday.
Robert Vicosa, 42, a former Baltimore County Police officer, and Tia Bynam, 36, a Baltimore County Police sergeant who had been place on leave after the department discovered her role in the crimes, had been accused of holding Vicosa's ex-wife hostage starting on Friday, Nov. 12 in his home in Windsor Township, Pennsylvania, which is about 55 miles north of Baltimore.
In court documents in that case reviewed by the York Dispatch, the ex-wife told police that Vicosa had invited her over to share a birthday cake with him and the couple's daughters, Giana Vicosa, 7, and Aaminah Vicosa, 6. After the girls went to bed, Vicosa asked the woman to stay briefly so that he could give her a birthday gift; instead, she told police, he and Bynum grabbed her by the arms, held her at gunpoint and then dragged her, screaming, to the basement of his house.
There, she said, they zip-tied her hands, tied her legs with a rope and forced her to snort a crushed oxycodone pill and inhale marijuana. Robert Vicosa then sexually assaulted his ex-wife multiple times from Friday into Saturday.
Bynum, the victim said, left the house during the day on Saturday. That day, Vicosa forced his ex-wife to call family members to say she was OK, according to the Baltimore Sun review of the court documents.
“He said that if the cops are called that everyone will be dead,” the documents said. “He said that he would kill her, the girls and himself.”
On Sunday, the victim managed to convince her ex-husband to allow her to leave his home to collect some clothes. She then drove herself to a Target in a nearby county, because she believed her ex-husband had a tracking device on her car and tracking software on her cell phone, according to the York Dispatch. She sought help from a Target employee, who called the Springettsbury Township Police. They brought in the York Area Regional Police around 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, almost two days after her ordeal began.
On Monday, Nov. 15, York Area Regional Police were able to serve a search warrant on the Windsor Township property where the woman had been held hostage for nearly two days. Vicosa and the couple's daughters were not there but windows were reportedly shattered. According to NBC affiliate WBAL in Baltimore, the police were able to corroborate the woman's story during the search and discovered that Vicosa was driving a car belonging to a relative of Bynum.
When they pinged Vicosa's phone, it showed the phone was at Bynum's house.
Upon arriving at Bynum's house, the sergeant answered the door armed, according to the Sun, and denied Vicosa or the girls were there. She told police that she'd been at the home over the weekend, but left when Vicosa and his victim went into the bedroom.
On Tuesday afternoon, the York County Regional Police responded to another abduction call in nearby Red Lion, according to a press statement. There, they said, Vicosa had taken another woman hostage at gunpoint, stolen her car and fled with two small girls. York Area Regional Police Lt. Ken Schollenberger told WBAL that a man called them after receiving a message from his mother on Facebook that she was being held at gunpoint.
In a press conference reported by the Baltimore Sun and WBAL, Schollenberger explained that the woman had a "vacation camper" on her property, which abuts a canal. When the woman left her house around noon to go for a walk, she noticed a black car crashed in the canal and, when she went to investigation, Vicosa emerged from the camper wearing nothing but a towel and pointed his gun at her.
"And he puts a gun in her face, and tells her that he needs her car, and he needs her to find rope to tie her up with," Schollenberger told reporters.
The woman refused to get him a rope, but turned over the keys to her Jetta, blankets for Vicosa and his daughters and her phone.
Police eventually found the Jetta abandoned nearby. The woman's phone records, according to the Sun, showed he had been calling Bynum; WBAL reports that police pinged Vicosa's phone again and it once again showed him at Bynum's house.
After receiving a search warrant, they searched Bynum's home, but she, Vicosa and the girls were gone. On Wednesday, police announced they were searching for the couple and the abducted children in Bynum's car.
Later on Wednesday, Vicosa — accompanied by Bynum and his kidnapped daughters — carjacked a man in Cockeysville, Maryland (a suburb immediately north of Baltimore along the interstate that runs between that city and the rural Pennsylvania locales in which the other crimes were committed). The CBS affiliate WJZ in Baltimore reports that they forced the man to drive them to several locations in the area at gunpoint before letting him go and taking his SUV.
In an interview with WJZ on Thursday morning, the man said he was tired but mostly worried about "the babies, those beautiful little girls."
In a Thursday morning press conference, Baltimore Police Chief Melissa Hyatt and York Area Regional Police Chief Tim Damon begged the two adults to free the children they'd kidnapped, reported WJZ.
“I want to plead to Rob that we would like you to put Gigi and Minah in a safe place, where we can ensure their safe return and safety overall,” Damon said.
“Tia, our priority is the safety and wellbeing of Gianna and Aaminah,” Hyatt said. “Please, get these two innocent and precious children to a safe location."
On Thursday afternoon, everyone's worst fears were answered.
Pennsylvania state police spotted the SUV stolen in Cockeysville near Waynesboro, Pennsylvania (about 60 miles northwest of Baltimore), attempted to effect a stop and, when unsuccessful, began a pursuit, according to the York Dispatch. The SUV then crossed back over into Maryland at Maryland State Route 418, where the Maryland State Police were waiting, according to WJZ.
Fewer than two miles later, outside the town of Ringgold, the car drifted off the road and crashed in a ditch, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Police attempted to make contact with the vehicle occupants, according to WJZ, but were unsuccessful and could not see what was going on inside because of smoke from the crash.
The forced open the car around 2:30 p.m. and discovered Bynum in the driver's seat, dead from a gunshot wound to the head. Vicosa was in the backseat with his daughters, also dead from a gunshot wound. Both daughters had been shot; one was pronounced dead at the scene and the other one was airlifted to the hospital in nearby Hagerstown, where she died of her wounds.
Police found an assault rifle and other guns in the car.