Who is Austin Lee Edwards? – Former Virginia State Trooper Austin Lee Edwards has been identified as the guy wanted for the murder of a family in Riverside last week.
Authorities claim that before setting their home on fire and removing the 15-year-old girl, Edwards killed the girl’s mother, grandmother, and grandfather.
Hours after the alleged murders, Edwards took the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department on a dangerous chase while the teen girl was in the car. Before being shot dead by authorities, he fired at a SWAT unit.
“At this time, we believe that the suspect was the only one that killed the deceased and caused the fire,” Riverside Police Officer Ryan Railsback said.
According to a Virginia State Police spokesperson, Edwards began attending the police academy on July 6 last year after being hired.
He was transferred to Henrico County, Virginia’s Richmond Division, after graduating on January 21, 2022. On October 28, 2022, just over a month before the horrific murder, he left the department.
The Virginia State Police refused to disclose Edwards’ reason for quitting since it was a part of his personnel file.
After that, he started working for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office on November 16, 2022. Before going on patrol, he had just begun the police department’s training programme.
According to the Washington County deputies, “none of Edwards’s employers mentioned any difficulties, reprimands, or internal investigations” during his background inquiry, which also involved the state police.
The sheriff’s office claimed that he was still employed by the Virginia State Police when he applied as a deputy.
According to the Riverside Police Department, Edwards pretended to be someone else when he met the 15-year-old girl online. Catfishing is what we call this.
“He grew close to her to the point where we suspect they may have exchanged texts or phone calls. Additionally, he was able to get details about her. He was able to learn where she resided,” according to Railsback.
Police believe that after killing the girl’s mother, Brooke Winek, 38, grandma Sharie Winek, 65, and grandfather Mark Winek, 69, in Riverside, Virginia, Edwards then absconded with the child.
“This is a frightening reminder that cyber predators prey on our children,” said Gonzalez. “Even if you’ve already discussed online safety with your kids and social media safety with them, do it again. If not, start doing so right away to safeguard them better.”