YORK COUNTY, Pa. — A recently approved settlement highlights errors and the events leading up to the murder of the Vicosa sisters in 2021.
Marisa Vicosa, the mother of Giana, 7, and Aaminah, 6, is expected to receive around $2 million in settlement funds after her children were kidnapped and murdered by her ex-husband, Robert Vicosa.
According to court documents, Vicosa's lawyers highlighted multiple instances where the York County Area Regional Police Department reportedly mishandled the case.
As reported by the settlement, the events leading up to the girls' murders are as follows:
On Nov. 12, 2021, Marisa was invited by her estranged husband to celebrate her birthday with her daughters at the former couple's home in Windsor Township.
What began as a pleasant night quickly turned horrifying after the girls were put to bed when Robert told Marisa that he had a present to give her. In the kitchen, a woman, later identified as a Baltimore County police force college of Robert's, Tia Bynum, appeared.
With Robert holding a gun to her head, Marisa was dragged downstairs to the basement where she was force-fed an unknown drug.
According to court documents, Robert then took Marisa to his bedroom and repeatedly raped her, threatening to kill her, her children and her family if she tried to leave.
On Nov. 14, Marisa convinced Robert to let her leave the property to change clothes and pick up work items from her mother's house. Robert threatened to kill their daughters and her family if she didn't return or contacted the police.
At her mother's, Marisa immediately revealed what was happening to her. Fearing that Robert was tracking her phone, she sought help at a local Target.
York County police were notified. Due to the threatened danger to Giana and Aaminah's lives, Corporal Daniel Miller, the shift officer at the time, assembled a team of officers to deal with the crisis.
However, Miller couldn't act on his own to rescue the girls. He was required to go through his chain of command, which included Lieutenant Kenneth Schollenberger and Police Chief Timothy Damon, according to the settlement.
Schollenberger was contacted and informed of the imminent situation. Aware of the situation, the lieutenant reportedly didn't report to work that day.
He reportedly informed Damon of the threats, who also did not report to work.
According to the settlement, Corporal Miller and officers at the station wanted to take action to rescue the girls, including surveilling the property they were held in and contacting Tia Bynum. However, Chief Damon reportedly refused to order his officers to take any immediate action.
As a workaround, an Emergency Protection from Abuse (EPFA) Order was approved and issued against Robert Vicosa.
However, the following day, Marisa was informed that the EPFA Order had been abandoned and the children were still in Robert's custody.
According to the settlement, the order wasn't put into action because Chief Damon decided to override and not enforce the order. In his view, he believed it would be better to serve the EPFA Order on Monday morning, while the children were at school.
However, the children were homeschooled and Marisa was never informed of this decision until it was already too late.
Additionally, Tia Bynum was not placed under surveillance despite being caught on camera with Robert on the night of Marisa's assault.
It wasn't until 4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 15 that the EPFA Order was issued against Robert, but he was no longer at the home with the children.
Bynum's home was searched, but she denied having any knowledge of Robert or the children's location, despite, as was later revealed, being in constant contact with Robert and later reuniting with them in Maryland.
Despite the knowledge of Bynum's crimes against Marisa, she was not arrested nor was any surveillance placed on her.
Meanwhile, Robert drove away with the children in a black Acura sedan. He eventually drove it into a creek near Husson Road in Windsor Township.
On Tuesday, Nov. 16, Robert and the children spent the morning in a parked trailer located near the crash. He confronted the woman who owned the trailer at gunpoint, then stole her 2014 Volkswagen Jetta and her cell phone.
The woman's abandoned car and cell phone were traced to Red Lion Borough. It was determined that Robert had used the phone to contact Bynum several times.
A subsequent search of Tia Bynum's home revealed she had fled.
On Wednesday, Nov. 17, Robert Vicosa and Bynum carjacked a man in Maryland. They forced him to drive them around Baltimore for several hours at gunpoint but ultimately released him unharmed.
The following day, PSP alerted Maryland State Police to the vehicle Robert was driving. After a short chase, it veered off the road and struck a culvert.
Robert, who was sitting in the back seat with his children, first shot and killed Bynum, then shot his daughters and finally, himself.
Giana was pronounced dead at the scene, and Aaminah briefly survived the shooting but later passed away at the hospital.
As a result of the criminal investigation, "major concerns with certain lapses and decisions leading up" to the abduction and murders of the Vicosa sisters were addressed by the Attorney General.
Excluding counsel fees, Marisa Vicosa is owed around $3 million for the estate of Giana and Aaminah, as well as the emotional distress she suffered.
The funds will be paid by the EMC insurance company, the York County Area Regional Police Department's carrier, according to Vicosa's lawyer.