The news about a man allegedly catfishing a teenager before killing her family has gotten tongues wagging. The murderer in this incident is alleged to be one Austin Lee Edwards, a former Virginia State Trooper, according to Southern California Law Enforcement.
Austin Lee Edward was accused of murdering 15 years old’s grandmother, grandfather, and mother. He later set the house on fire and kidnapped the teenage girl.
The Riverside Police received a call for a welfare check Friday morning regarding Austin Lee Edward and the teenager. According to the authorities, they believe Edward parked his vehicle in the driveway, walked towards the family to commit the horrific murder, and flee with the girl.
The dispatchers were later alerted to smoke, only to discover the corpse of three adults and the possibility that the fire was set intentionally. After the police were alarmed by the incident at the time, Austin Lee Edward Led the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department on a dangerous pursuit but was gunned down by the police after opening fire on a SWAT.
Austin Lee Edward is 28 years old and worked for the Virginia State Police Department before joining the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
Riverside Police Officer Ryan Railsback stated:
“We believe at this point that the suspect was the only one involved in the murders and in setting the fire,”.
Washington County deputies stated:
“no employers disclosed any troubles, reprimands, or internal investigations pertaining to Edwards,”.
Considering the relationship between Austin Lee Edward and the 15-year-old victim, the Riverside Police Department hinted that they met through a catfishing scheme. Edward pretended to be a different person from the young girl and developed a relationship with her.
“He developed a relationship with her, enough where we believe there might have been an exchange of texts, maybe phone calls. And he was able to get her personal information. He was able to get her address,”.
“This is yet another horrific reminder of the predators existing online who prey on our children,” said Gonzalez. “If you’ve already had a conversation with your kids on how to be safe online and on social media, have it again. If not, start it now to better protect them.”
It is believed that Austin Lee Edward traveled from Virginia to Riverside after getting her information. He killed her 69-year-old grandfather Mark Winek, 65-year-old grandmother Sharie Winek, and 38-year-old mother, Brooke Winek before fleeing with the victim.
The Riverside Police have revealed the safety of the 15 years old girl as she has been taken into protective custody by the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services.