The Washington Post
Wife of ex-baltimore County officer accuses Pa. chief of blocking court order
The estranged wife of Robert Vicosa, the ex-baltimore County officer who killed himself, his accomplice and his two daughters in an apparent murder-suicide last week, has accused a police chief in York, Pa., of blocking a court order she sought to protect the girls from their father.
In a citizen’s complaint she filed last week against York Area Regional Police Chief Timothy Damon, Vicosa’s wife writes that a Pennsylvania judge granted her an emergency protection order on the evening of Sunday, Nov. 14.
“At approximately 3 a.m. on [Monday, Nov. 15], I was informed by two York Area Regional Police Officers that the chief of police put a stop to this order,” she wrote. “I am given no explanation for the stop and am still unaware of the reason for stopping the order. In the meantime, my two daughters continue to be in the custody of their father, who is a danger to them, me and himself.”
By the afternoon of Nov. 15, her husband was on the run with their two girls and his accomplice. Vicosa eluded law enforcement agencies for four days until authorities closed in on them Thursday afternoon and he shot his two girls, his accomplice and himself moments into a car chase, according to police.
His estranged wife’s complaint was released this week under open records laws, though officials redacted her name. The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General is investigating her allegation.
“The York County District Attorney referred the private criminal complaint to our office and we are in the process of reviewing,” wrote Jacklin Rhoads, a spokeswoman for the state attorney general’s office, in an email. “The loss of these two young lives is truly heartbreaking and our thoughts and prayers are with their family and the community mourning this incredible loss.”
Damon, the York chief, did not respond Tuesday to her allegations. York police have come under criticism for how they handled the case. The department waited until the afternoon of Monday, Nov. 15, to search Vicosa’s home, a police spokesman said, even though the judge approved the search warrant the night before.
In response to questions about the department’s response, a York police spokesman had said the department intends to publish a timeline that details steps in the investigation.
With the matter now referred to the Pennsylvania Attorney General, however, York police said they will not provide any more information.
Maryland State Police continue to investigate the apparent murder-suicide on a road in Western Maryland last week. Investigators believe Vicosa pulled the trigger to kill his two daughters, himself and his accomplice, Tia Bynum. She was a police officer who served in the criminal investigations bureau of the Baltimore County police.
Moments into the pursuit Thursday afternoon, police watched as the car drifted out of its lane and off the road. The car rode up an embankment and
narrowly missed parked cars before it stopped. Authorities believe Vicosa shot and killed Bynum while she drove them away.
“That vehicle started veering off, without braking, without any maneuvers from the driver,” State Police spokeswoman Elena Russo said. “There were no indications that anybody was in control.”
When police approached the car, they found Vicosa fatally shot in the back seat along with his 7and 6-year-old daughters. One of the girls was flown to a hospital in Hagerstown where she died. The other girls was pronounced dead at the scene, along with Vicosa and Bynum. Police found several firearms in the car, Russo said.
After the girls’ death, one of
Vicosa’s in-laws made a threat toward his family in Baltimore, Joy Stewart, a spokeswoman for Baltimore County police said. Officers met Vicosa’s mother and grandmother Thursday night to warn them and show them a photo of the in-law, Stewart said.
“The individual later stated his comment was made out of anger; he expressed he had no intention of following through on the threat,” Stewart said.
Still, Vicosa’s mother, Beverly Dawes Brown, spoke out Friday evening beside her attorney about her frustration over the situation. She demanded Baltimore County police provide her protection and more information about the person who threatened her.
Brown said her son suffered mental illness and “snapped” four months ago when he was fired from the Baltimore County police. Vicosa served as a sergeant in the Catonsville precinct as recently as 2019.
Internal affairs files show Vicosa had been found guilty of administrative charges for being sexually inappropriate with women subordinates, watching inappropriate videos in their presence, making sexual remarks and leering. Last year, a police trial board demoted him two ranks from sergeant to officer and stripped him of 45 days of leave.
Additional administrative charges were brought against him this year for insubordination, sleeping on the job, and refusing to be trained and to perform his duties. A police trial board stripped him of 20 days of leave and, in August, he was fired.
His mother’s attorney, J. Wyndal Gordon, said the administrative charges were “trumped up.” In the misconduct case resulting in his demotion, Vicosa appealed to the Baltimore County Circuit Court, but the judge upheld the decision of the police trial board.
The four-day search for Vicosa began Sunday, Nov. 14, after his wife told police that he and Bynum held her captive over the weekend, tying her up and forcing her to snort a crushed painkiller pill, smoke pot, and handle guns, according to court records. She escaped, but Vicosa had the children.
Vicosa had threatened to kill his estranged wife, their children and himself, according to the records.
His wife sought the emergency protection order Sunday evening, and police got a warrant to search his house. When officers reached the house Monday, Vicosa and the girls were gone.