Timothy Virts: An Amber Alert Case That Horrified Maryland

Anne Marble
6 min readJan 27, 2022

On March 6, 2014, an Amber Alert went out in Maryland. A girl was missing; her mother had been found murdered. The suspect was the girl’s father, Timothy Virts.

A young girl with long blond hair and glasses smiles while wearing a pink shirt. There is a background with colorfol autumn leaves behind her.
A Photo of the Abducted Girl Provided by the Baltimore County Police Department. (Source: WBAL News Radio.)

Content Warning: This article deals with child abduction, murder, and reports of child sexual abuse. I have avoided using the name of the abducted girl in this article. However, some of the external links use her name.

The Amber Alert

On that day, cell phones throughout our office blared the emergency broadcast sound. If you’ve never been in an office where multiple phones are getting an emergency broadcast, it is terrifying. The alert uses a loud, shocking sound — used to warn people of everything from extreme weather to Amber Alerts.

We checked our phones, and that’s how we learned an 11-year-old girl was missing. Worse, her father, Timothy Virts, had abducted her 12 hours before. Her mother, Bobbie Jo Cortez, had been found murdered in Dundalk, Maryland.

A woman with long, dark hair stands in a kitchen, resting her hand against the counter. She is wearing a print shirt and a dark jacket.
Murder Victim Bobbie Jo Cortez. (Source: WBAL News Radio; family photo.)

As soon as I read the Amber Alert, I was scared for the abducted girl. Because I’d seen so many true crime stories unfold, I feared the worst. So did others who saw the Amber Alert. The police spokeswoman said, “We are concerned for her safety.”

Reports later surmised that the Amber Alert went to thousands of people, maybe more. The Amber Alert was broadcast throughout multiple states. Highway signs asked drivers to be on the lookout for a 1999 black Dodge Durango with Maryland tags 5AJ4458.

Above a highway, a large sign displays orange lettering against a black background with the words “Child Amber Alert — 99 Blk Dodge Durango — Call 911”
A Highway Sign Displaying the Amber Alert. (Source: WBAL News Radio.)

Police said the girl was “in extreme danger.” One widely distributed image showed a young girl wearing a Medieval Times hat. Next to that was a picture of the suspected kidnapper, her father, Timothy Virts.

On the left, a young girl with glasses and long blond hair is wearing a Medieval Times hat; she is smiling. On the right, a picture of Timothy Virts is shown against a blue backdrop. He has dark hair, a moustache, and a beard.
Circulated Photos Showing the Abducted Girl and Her Father. (Source: WMBF News, photo from WBAL.)
Anne Marble

I’m a writer and a copy editor with experience in editing science and engineering articles. Click Lists to find my most popular articles. And hidden gems.