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.
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.
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.
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.