A former Virginia police officer believed to have murdered a youngster’s own family in Riverside, California after “catfishing” her online, changed into killed in a shootout even as looking to flee authorities, the city’s police branch said in an information release.
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The ex-cop become diagnosed as Austin Lee Edwards, 28, of North Chesterfield Virginia. Detectives stated they believe Edwards had met the teen thru “catfishing,” a form of online deception in which someone pretends to be a different individual.
Officials with the Riverside Police had been dispatched Friday to check the welfare of a younger lady who seemed distressed whilst entering a crimson vehicle with a person, police stated. At the same time as officers were responding, 911 dispatchers started getting calls approximately a hearth within the same neighborhood, just a few homes far away from wherein the welfare check originated.
Firefighters determined three grownup victims lying in the front entryway of the burning home. When they pulled them out of doors, it became decided they had been sufferers of an obvious murder, the discharge said.
An initial investigation determined the younger woman defined inside the initial name changed into a teen who lived where the house fireplace and homicides befell, police stated.
In keeping with the police, Edwards had advanced an online court with the youngster and acquired her statistics. He then traveled from Virginia to Riverside, wherein he parked his vehicle in a neighbor’s driveway and walked to the teenager’s domestic, the discharge said. At some unspecified time in the future, the government believes Edwards murdered the youngster’s grandfather, grandmother, and mother before walking returned to his automobile with the youngster and leaving.
Numerous hours after the bodies had been observed, Edwards become noticed riding with the teen via San Bernardino County, police said.
According to the release, Edwards exchanged gunfire with the San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies trying to prevent him, turned shot with the aid of deputies, and turned into later said useless on the scene.
The teenager become unharmed and was later placed into defensive custody of the Riverside County Department of Public Social services, police said.
Edwards resigned from the Virginia National Police in October, consistent with the employer. Detectives in California found out he turned into “recently hired at the Washington County Sheriff’s workplace within the state of Virginia.”
“it is shocking and unhappy to the entire regulation enforcement community that such an evil and wicked individual could infiltrate regulation enforcement whilst concealing his genuine identification as a computer predator and assassin. Our mind and prayers are with the Winek circle of relatives, their buddies, officers, and all of those laid low with this heinous crime,” stated Washington County Sheriff Blake Andis.
The sufferers were diagnosed as Mark Winek, 69, his spouse Sharie Winek, sixty-five, and their daughter Brooke Winek, 38. The exact purpose and manner of their deaths are nevertheless pending.
“Mark, Sharie, and Brooke were loving people who didn’t deserve this tragedy,” the circle of relatives of the victims stated in a Monday statement. The family additionally thanked “absolutely everyone for their love, assist, prayers and endurance at some stage in this terrible time.”
“we are nevertheless processing the brand new facts supplied with the aid of authorities and might be talking similarly at a press convention together with Riverside Police Dept. Later this week. Please recognize our privateness at this time,” the statement stated.
The reason for the house fireplace remains under research, although it seems to have been deliberately ignited, in keeping with the police news release.
“Our hearts go out to the Winek circle of relatives and their loved ones for the duration of this time of outstanding grief, as that is a tragedy for all Riversiders,” metropolis Police chief Larry Gonzalez said inside the release.
“that is but another awful reminder of the predators existing online who prey on our children. If you’ve already had a verbal exchange with your children on a way to be safe online and on social media, have it once more. If now not, begin it now to higher shield them.”