74
      Saturday
      86 / 71
      Sunday
      84 / 72
      Monday
      85 / 73

      Amber Alert child found safe in Florence, father under arrest

      Timothy Virts/Florence County Sheriff's Office

      A nationwide Amber Alert has been canceled after an 11-year-old Maryland girl was found safe in a motel in Florence. Her father, who police say abducted her, is under arrest.

      The Amber Alert was issued Thursday morning for Caitlyn Virts after her mother, Bobbie Jo Cortez, was found dead at their home in Baltimore County.

      Caitlyn's father, Timothy Virts, is the suspect in Cortez' death.

      Friday night, Timothy and Caitlyn Virts were found at the Colonial Inn on South Irby Street in Florence.

      WPDE NewsChannel 15 talked with Carol Gause, one of the co-owners of the Colonial Inn on Saturday.

      Gause said they checked into the motel on Thursday night and renewed their stay Friday morning.

      She made the connection on Friday night when she saw a friend's Facebook post of the Amber Alert.

      "I think that the fact that the father and daughter came to my window together, it was easier to put the two together when I saw the Amber Alert picture of them together on Facebook," Gause said.

      There were no clear signs that something was wrong with Caitlyn or Timothy, Gause said. "She seemed happy, she was with her daddy. They looked OK," she added.

      Gause still took action and called 9-1-1 immediately.

      "Social media was the reason that the individual, the suspect, and the victim were identified going into the motel," said Florence Police Chief Allen Heidler.

      Caitlyn Virts will be returned home as soon as possible, according to Baltimore County police. Police say she appeared to be unharmed.

      "Baltimore County DSS has already been put in contact with Social Services officials in South Carolina," police said in a release.

      Timothy Virts was taken into custody. He's being held in the Florence County Detention Center.

      Virts has waived his rights for extradition and faces first degree murder charges at this time, according to the Florence County Detention Center.