Ex-Baltimore Cop on 4-Day Crime Spree Found Shot Dead Alongside Bodies of Kidnapped Daughters, Accomplice

·6 min read
York Area Regional Police
York Area Regional Police

A frantic four-day manhunt ended in tragedy Thursday, with ex-Baltimore County Police Officer Robert Vicosa, his two young daughters, and his alleged criminal accomplice, a suspended Baltimore County police sergeant, all found in a crashed car with gunshot wounds. Vicosa had been on the lam since Monday, having abducted his daughters, Giana Vicosa, 7, and Aaminah Vicosa, 6.

Police approached the scene of a Thursday afternoon car crash after a brief chase through rural Maryland, state police spokesperson Elena Russo said at an evening news conference. Unable to see through its windows due to “a thick layer of smoke” inside the car, authorities eventually opened the vehicle to find four people inside. Three died at the scene, while one of the children died after being flown to a nearby hospital.

Though Russo declined to identify the victims, local news outlets from the Baltimore Sun to CBS Baltimore to WGAL-TV have said sources with direct knowledge of the situation have confirmed the victims’ identities as Vicosa, Giana, Aaminah, and Vicosa’s accomplice, Tia Bynum. From Russo’s description, Bynum was apparently the crashed car’s driver, while Vicosa and his daughters were huddled in the backseat.

The final stretch of the manhunt concluded a four-day spree of robberies and carjackings as Vicosa and Bynum tried to evade authorities with his daughters in tow. The chase, which encompassed two states and multiple police departments coordinating with federal agencies, began over the weekend in York County, Pennsylvania.

On Friday, Vicosa, 42, lured his ex-wife to his home in Red Lion, Pennsylvania with an invitation to celebrate her birthday. Once there, the woman told police later, she, Vicosa, and Bynum had cake and put the girls to bed. Vicosa told her he had a gift for her. “The next thing she knew, Tia and Robert grabbed her by the arms, and Robert put a handgun to her head,” a criminal complaint recounted.

The pair forced the woman into the basement, where she was tied up. She was forced to snort a crushed Oxycontin pill and smoke marijuana, she told authorities. Vicosa allegedly threatened to kill her and the girls, and led her to a bedroom, where she said he sexually assaulted her multiple times on Friday and Saturday.

Police said the victim was threatened again by Vicosa as she spoke to her brother over the phone on Saturday, as he forced her to pretend nothing was wrong. If the cops were called, he allegedly said, he’d kill her, their daughters, and himself.

Vicosa’s ex-wife was able to escape on Sunday, when she was able to persuade him to let her go home to collect some clothes and her computer. Once out of the Red Lion house, she sought help from a Target employee.

Local police obtained a warrant and entered Vicosa’s home on Monday. The house was torn apart, with a window shattered at the back of the house. Even worse: the ex-officer and his daughters were nowhere to be found.

Officers found Bynum at her home, four miles away, where she answered the door with a gun strapped to her hip. She allowed them to search her house, and acknowledged celebrating Vicosa’s ex-wife’s birthday with them, but denied having ever gone into the basement.

The search effort for Vicosa and his daughters was launched shortly afterward.

Vicosa had worked for the Baltimore County Police Department for 17 years, according to ABC27. He was fired in August this year. His internal police records, obtained by WBAL-TV, showed a history of sexual harassment. According to the findings of an internal investigation, he leered at three female department employees in 2019, watching “inappropriate videos in their presence” and making sexually suggestive remarks around them. A trial board subsequently demoted him.

After further allegations of insubordination and “conduct unbecoming of a Baltimore County Police Office,” including sleeping on duty and “refusing to be trained and perform required duties,” he was fired two years later.

Authorities believe that Vicosa was driving Bynum’s car when he departed from his home with the abducted girls. They found the vehicle partially submerged in a canal near a woman’s rural Pennsylvania property. The unnamed homeowner, whose son called the police, said she had stepped out for an afternoon walk when Vicosa emerged from her camper vehicle and shoved a gun in her face.

“He tells her he needs a car,” Ken Schollenberger, a York County police lieutenant, said at a press conference. “He needs her to find a rope to tie her up with.”

The woman led Vicosa and his daughters, who were “cold and wet” according to local outlet WGAL, up to her house. When he went to retrieve a cell phone from his car, she grabbed and loaded her shotgun. “And I came to the girls,” the woman told the station. “I said, ‘Is your daddy going to hurt me?’ And they said, ‘No, my daddy's nice.’”

The woman sent the girls outside with a blanket and retreated upstairs. Outside, Vicosa stole her car and her phone, driving off with his daughters. “They're sweet little girls,” the woman said on Tuesday. “If I could have protected them somehow—I tried, but I knew I couldn't have kept them locked in with me, because I'm sure he would have went ballistic.”

Tracing the woman’s phone, authorities found her abandoned car the same day. According to her call records, Vicosa had been speaking to Bynum. Returning to her house that night, officers found her missing.

Bynum, a member of the Baltimore County Police Department for 14 years, was suspended from duty after authorities learned of her involvement in Vicosa’s spree. Officials have described Bynum and Vicosa as having been in a relationship, according to the Baltimore Sun.

The next day, the pair had made it to Cockeysville, Maryland with the girls. There, they carjacked a man at gunpoint, forcing him to drive the group around the metropolitan area. Eventually, Vicosa and Bynum set him free, the Baltimore police said. The man was “a little tired” and “worried about those babies, those beautiful little girls,” he told CBS Baltimore, but unharmed.

The Cockeysville car is allegedly the vehicle the four were found in on Thursday.

Authorities repeatedly appealed directly to both Vicosa and Bynum over the course of the manhunt.

“At one time, you were a police officer. In your heart, you know what you’re doing is not right,” Schollenberger said at the Wednesday press conference. “You are a father to these young ladies. Do the right thing, Robert. Bring them back.”

“Please, get these two innocent and precious children to a safe location,” Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt said, addressing Bynum at a Thursday morning news conference. “We know that you are tired. We want to work with you on a safe and peaceful resolution.”

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