The horrifying saga concluded in a suspected murder-suicide.
A former Baltimore cop, his female police officer accomplice, and his two kidnapped daughters were all found dead in a car in Maryland, authorities have confirmed.
Robert Vicosa, 42, and 35-year-old Tia Bynum were discovered shot dead — along with sisters Aaminah Vicosa, 6, and Giana Vicosa, 7, whom they were accused of abducting — in a suspected murder suicide.
The tragic conclusion to the five-day crime spree and manhunt played out in a police chase as the vehicle crashed while attempting to cross the state line to Pennsylvania. Approaching the smoke-filled car after a standoff, officers found all four victims inside.
The horrifying saga kicked off on Sunday when Vicosa’s estranged wife called 911 and told them she had been violently assaulted by her ex, a former Baltimore County police officer, at her home in Windsor Township.
She told police multiple guns and drugs were involved; afraid to drive to a police station because Vicosa had warned her there were tracking devices on her phone and car, she fled to a neutral location, where she met officers.
Descending on the home, officers found it trashed, with only the family’s emaciated dog left behind, WBAL reported. Vicosa and their two daughters were missing.
Police then received information Vicosa was driving a black Acura TL, belonging to a relative of his close friend and former colleague Tia Bynum, a sergeant with Baltimore PD.
When investigators tracked a ping from Vicosa’s cellphone to Bynum’s home, they said she refused to consent to a search and was “less than forthcoming.”
According to York Area Regional Police Lt. Ken Schollenberger, Vicosa later attempted to cross a waterway in Red Lion on Tuesday when the car became disabled, so he jumped out and demanded another car from a passer-by at gunpoint.
“She looks over and she sees a car in her canal … when she looks at the canal, she hears a voice, she turns to her right – coming out of the camper is a Black male with a towel around his waist,” Schollenberger said. “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.”
The woman handed over her car and her phone — but not a rope — and gave blankets to the little girls, who were soaking wet from crossing the canal.
That Volkswagen Jetta was later found abandoned by tracking the woman’s stolen phone; but police were also still able to track Vicosa’s phone, which once again returned to Bynum’s home. When officers got there with a warrant, Vicosa and the girls weren’t there — and neither was Bynum or her black Lexus.
On Wednesday Baltimore PD announced that Bynum had been suspended from the force; they appealed to the public to report sightings, and many members did, but the fugitives managed to stay one step ahead of their pursuers.
Police warned that the suspects were considered armed and dangerous, and advised people not to approach. Several schools in the area were put on lockdown.
That same day, another man was carjacked and kidnapped at gunpoint in Cockeysville, and forced to drive to a number of locations throughout Baltimore, before the victim was ultimately released, unharmed.
In a news conference on Thursday morning, York Area Regional Police Chief Tim Damon pleaded for the children’s safe return.
“We would like you to put Gigi and Mina in a safe place where we can ensure their safe return and safety overall,” Damon said. “They do not need to be involved in this and we want to ensure that the two girls — your girls — are safe.”
“These are children, these are babies, and we want to get them back to their mom immediately,” Lt. Schollenberger added. “We hope that he still remembers that he has duties as a father, and he’s going to do the right thing and bring these little girls home.”
To Bynum, Damon also issued a direct message: “Tia, our priority is the safety and wellbeing of Giana and Aaminah. Please, get these two innocent and precious children to a safe location. You can drop them off at a public safety facility, or any other safe location with a responsible adult to care for them. Their wellbeing and safety is everyone’s priority. We know that you are tired. We want to work with you on a safe and peaceful resolution.”
But the five-day chase came to its tragic end around 2:30 PM on Thursday, when Pennsylvania state troopers were alerted a car matching the description was attempting to cross the state line from Maryland.
After a short pursuit, the car ran off the road and crashed into a fence.
Maryland State Police crisis negotiation team made several attempts to make contact with the occupants of the car, which was filled with thick smoke, making it difficult to see inside.
The decision was made to enter the vehicle from the passenger side. Officers found Bynum dead at the wheel, and Vicosa in the backseat with his daughters. All four had gunshot wounds.
Three were pronounced dead at the scene; one of the little girls was flown to hospital, but was sadly pronounced deceased there, too.
Police did not say who fired the shots.
Robert Vicosa joined Baltimore County PD in December of 2014. He was promoted to sergeant, but was demoted back to officer when an investigation found him guilty of improper conduct with female subordinates.
In March of this year, another investigation found him guilty of sleeping on the job and refusing to perform his duties. He was terminated in August.
Bynum had served 14 years with Baltimore PD, and had only been disciplined once for crashing her police car while responding to a call in 2013.