Who is Austin Lee Edwards and What Happened With Him?

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Austin Lee Edwards
Austin Lee Edwards

Austin Lee Edwards, a former Virginia State Trooper, has been named as the person who is suspected of killing a family in Riverside last week.

Authorities say that Edwards killed the grandmother, grandfather, and mother of a 15-year-old girl before setting their house on fire and taking the girl away.

Edwards led the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department on a dangerous chase with the teen girl in the car hours after the alleged murders. He shot at a SWAT team before being killed by police.

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Riverside Police Officer Ryan Railsback said, “At this point, we think that the suspect was the only one who killed the people and started the fire.”

A spokesperson for the Virginia State Police said that Edwards was hired and started at the police academy on July 6 of last year.

When he graduated on January 21, 2022, he was sent to Henrico County, which is in Virginia’s Richmond Division. He quit the department on October 28, 2022, about a month before the horrible murder.

Since it was part of Edwards’ personnel file, the Virginia State Police wouldn’t say why he quit.

After that, on November 16, 2022, he went to work for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. He just started the training process with the police department before being put on patrol.

During his background check, which included the state police, “none of Edwards’s employers disclosed any problems, reprimands, or internal investigations,” the Washington County deputies said.

When he applied to be a deputy, the sheriff’s office said that he was still working as a trooper for the Virginia State Police.

The Riverside Police Department thinks that Edwards met the 15-year-old girl online and pretended to be someone else. This is called “catfishing.”

“He became close to her to the point where we think they might have texted each other or talked on the phone. And he was able to find out things about her. He was able to find out where she lived,” Railsback said.

Police think that Edwards then went from Virginia to Riverside and killed the girl’s grandfather, Mark Winek, who was 69, grandmother, Sharie Winek, who was 65, and mother, Brooke Winek, who was 38, before taking the girl and running away.

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Gonzalez said, “This is a terrible reminder that there are predators online who prey on our children.” “Even if you’ve talked to your kids before about how to stay safe online and on social media, do it again. If not, start doing it now to protect them better.

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