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Missing Dundalk girl reunited with twin sister in Maryland, family says

Law EnforcementHomicideTimothy VirtsBobbie Jo CortezCaitlyn Virts

The 11-year-old Dundalk girl found after a frantic, multistate search has been reunited with her twin sister, family members said Sunday.

Caitlyn Virts and her twin sister, Cayla, were back together in the care of Baltimore County social services workers, according to the twins' grandmother, Anna Trainor-Goodwin. Police found Caitlyn in a Florence, S.C., hotel Friday after issuing an Amber Alert and fielding thousands of tips.

"I'm hoping and praying that they let me have them," said Trainor-Goodwin, who lives near Patterson Park in Baltimore. "They said they want to be with me. They miss me."

The girls' father, Timothy Virts, 38, of Dundalk, is being held in South Carolina. He faces a first-degree murder charge in connection with the death of the twins' mother, Bobbie Jo Cortez. Police there said the earliest Virts could get a court hearing is Monday.

Family members said Cayla found her mother dead in bed Thursday morning and called 911. Police said the 36-year-old was stabbed to death in a bedroom at her home in the 3100 block of Ardee Way in Dundalk. Family said she'd been bound with duct tape. Within a couple of hours, authorities realized that Caitlyn was missing and activated the Amber Alert, worried about her well-being in Virts' hands.

Baltimore County police said Sunday they would have no additional comments on the case until Monday. Officers have said that Virts will be extradited to face prosecution in Maryland. A jail official said Virts had waived extradition, but police said he would still have a hearing on the matter. The process could take weeks, police said.

The father and daughter were found a day after they checked in at a small South Carolina motel more than 400 miles from Caitlyn's home. Colonial Inn co-owner Carol Gause called officers after seeing the pair's pictures posted on Facebook within a news story about the search. Virts' arrest came without incident and authorities said Caitlyn did not appear to have been physically harmed.

Trainor-Goodwin said she's not sure if Caitlyn knows about her mother's death.

"I'm hoping social services gets a hold of me and lets me know I can have the kids," she said. "I want to move into a house closer to the kids' school."

After investigators found what they suspected was the murder weapon at Cortez's Dundalk home, police obtained an arrest warrant for first-degree murder. Virts was charged based on interviews with others in the house and physical evidence from the scene, police said.

Virts fled in a black 1999 Dodge Durango with bumper stickers of the region's football teams and one that said, "Protected by witchcraft." The SUV was registered to Cortez's husband, 38-year-old Daniel Williams Cortez, who's been jailed since December on sex offense charges. Baltimore County police said the charges are not related to the alleged abduction.

During the search, Baltimore County police fielded "thousands" of leads and the FBI placed Timothy Virts on the agency's wanted list.

Social services officials were working with Caitlyn to make decisions about where the girl would be placed after coordinating with her family, police said.

Funeral arrangements for Bobbie Jo Cortez have not been finalized, said Cortez's father, Daniel Wallace.

He, too, said he hopes Trainor-Goodwin is awarded custody, and he pledged to help raise the girls.

"Any time they call me, I will be there," said Wallace who lives in the Carrollton Ridge section of Baltimore. "No matter what. I will be there."

Wallace said Sunday he missed his daughter very much.

"She was sunshine," he said. "She always happy. She was very trusting. She loved her children. She cherished her children. There was nothing in this world she wouldn't do for them."

He said Cortez used to call him during her lunch breaks at her job as a supervisor for a medical supply company.

"I used to talk to my daughter all the time," he said. "That's another thing I'm going to miss. I don't have anybody to call like that anymore."

Baltimore Sun reporter Yvonne Wenger contributed to this article.

lbroadwater@baltsun.com

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Law EnforcementHomicideTimothy VirtsBobbie Jo CortezCaitlyn Virts
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