Amber Alert canceled
Caitlyn Virts and her father, Timothy Virts, were found in Florence, S.C., ending an Amber Alert and a nation-wide manhunt.
Timothy Virts is in custody in South Carolina, where Baltimore County police detectives will travel to investigate the case. He will be brought back to Maryland. Caitlyn Virts was found unharmed.
Officials at the Maryland Department of Social Services are in contact with officials in South Carolina to work to return Caitlyn to her family in Maryland.
The two were found in a motel that Timothy Virts had checked them into.
A co-owner of the motel recognized pictures of the two that he had seen on Facebook and notified the police.
Both police and family members credited the use of social media and the Amber Alert in aiding authorities who located Caitlyn Virts and her father.
That tip was one of thousands that officials received about the Amber Alert, which was expanded to three states: Maryland, West Virginia and North Carolina.
The Amber Alert began Thursday morning when her mother, Bobbie Jo Cortez, was found killed in her home in Dundalk. Timothy Virts is accused of killing her. The Alert was posted to the Baltimore County Police Department Website with a picture of Caitlyn Virts. The alert was then spread across multiple social media platforms, and sent directly to cellphones. The alert was also posted on electronic highway signs across the states.
Amber Alerts can only be issued from the state police, and must meet strict criteria. Officers must believe that the child has been abducted and is in danger of serious harm, and they must also have some information about either the victim or the suspect.