Ex-Virginia state trooper Austin Lee Edwards shot useless after kidnapping teen and murdering her household: police

Ex-Virginia state trooper Austin Lee Edwards shot dead after kidnapping teen and murdering her family: police

A former Virginia state trooper allegedly kidnapped a California teenage lady he had been catfishing on-line — after murdering her household, in line with police.

Authorities say Austin Lee Edwards, 28, drove greater than 2,500 miles throughout the nation to Riverside to fulfill the teenager Friday.

Edwards then allegedly killed the lady’s grandparents and mother, set hearth to their dwelling, and took off with the sufferer.

Deputies from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Division tracked down Edwards and fatally shot him later that day throughout a shootout, in line with regulation enforcement.

The juvenile sufferer who was discovered with Edwards was unhurt and brought into protecting custody by the Riverside County Division of Public Social Providers.

Edwards, from North Chesterfield, Virginia, met the lady on-line and obtained her private info by passing himself off as another person, in a follow generally often called “catfishing,” the Riverside Police Division said in a press release.

Austin Lee Edwards, 28, who served with the Virginia State Police until late October, drove cross country to Riverside, California, Friday.
Austin Lee Edwards, 28, who served with the Virginia State Police till late October, drove cross nation to Riverside, California, Friday.

It’s unclear how lengthy the 2 have been speaking.

The surprising incident started unfolding simply after 11 a.m. Friday when police in Riverside received a name for a welfare examine regarding a younger lady who “appeared distressed” when getting right into a pink Kia Soul within the 11200 block of Worth Courtroom.

Whereas officers have been responding, dispatchers have been then alerted to smoke and a potential hearth a number of homes away from the place police have been known as for the welfare examine.

Mark Winek, 69, right, and his wife, Sharie Winek, 65, left, were found murdered outside their Riverside, California, home Friday morning.
Mark Winek (proper), 69, and his spouse, Sharie Winek, 65.
Mark and Sharie's daughter, Brooke Winek, 38, was killed along with her parents.
Brooke Winek, 38.

The Riverside Fireplace Division found three adults mendacity within the entrance entryway and took them outdoors, the place first responders “decided they have been victims of an obvious murder,” police mentioned.

Investigators later decided that the younger lady described within the preliminary welfare name had lived on the home the place the three folks have been discovered useless, police mentioned.

The our bodies discovered within the scorched Riverside dwelling have been recognized because the kidnapped teen’s grandparents and mom — Mark Winek, 69, his spouse, Sharie Winek, 65, and their 38-year-old daughter Brooke Winek.

Police haven’t revealed their causes of dying as of Monday however they consider Edwards traveled throughout the nation, parked his automotive in a neighbor’s driveway, walked to the teenager’s dwelling and killed her household earlier than leaving with the lady.

It is suspected that Edwards also set fire to the Winek family's home before kidnapping Brooke Winek's teenage daughter.
It’s suspected that Edwards additionally set hearth to the Winek household’s dwelling earlier than kidnapping Brooke Winek’s teenage daughter.

The reason for the hearth was underneath investigation, nevertheless it appeared to have been “deliberately ignited,” police mentioned. It’s unclear if the grandparents and mom have been killed earlier than the hearth was allegedly set.

Riverside authorities distributed an outline of Edwards’ automotive to regulation enforcement businesses and several other hours later police situated the automotive with Edwards and {the teenager} in Kelso in San Bernardino County.

Edwards fired gunshots and was killed by deputies who returned hearth, police mentioned.

Edwards was employed by the Virginia State Police and entered the police academy on July 6, 2021. He graduated as a trooper on Jan. 21, 2022, and was assigned to Henrico County throughout the company’s Richmond Division till his resignation on Oct. 28.

Edwards additionally labored for the Washington County Sheriff’s Division in Virginia, authorities in California mentioned.

Police rescued the teen girl after tracking down Edwards hours later.
Police rescued the teenager lady after monitoring down Edwards hours later.

Riverside Police Chief Larry Gonzalez known as the case “yet one more horrific reminder of the predators present on-line who prey on our kids.”

Throughout a vigil held Saturday, mates and neighbors described the Wineks as a caring and loving household who have been deeply concerned of their group.

“You’ll be able to’t ask for a greater buddy than Mark,” Ron Smith, Mark Winek’s buddy of 30 years, informed the Mercury News. “There’s going to be a gap in my coronary heart that’s going to be onerous to fill.”