Austin Edwards catfished Riverside teen, then killed her family, police say

Austin Edwards catfished Riverside teen, then killed her family, police say


Police in Riverside, Calif., had been responding to a name a couple of teenage lady who “appeared distressed” whereas using in a automobile with a person Friday morning when reviews of a home fireplace started circulating in the identical highway.

By the time firefighters arrived, {the teenager} and the purple Kia Soul she had gotten into had been gone. Meanwhile, a blaze was raging via the house’s first flooring, the place firefighters shortly discovered three adults mendacity lifeless within the entryway, in accordance with a information launch from the Riverside Police Department.

Police are investigating the case as a triple murder. Victims – 65-year-old Sharie Winek; her husband, 69-year-old Mark Winek; and their daughter, 38-year-old Brooke Winek – had been the grandparents and mom of {the teenager}, who additionally lived within the house. Law enforcement officers recognized the suspect as 28-year-old Austin Lee Edwards, a former Virginia State Police trooper who lived in North Chesterfield, Va.

Hours after firefighters found the our bodies, Edwards was killed in a shootout with officers. The teenage lady, who had been inside Edwards’ automobile, was not bodily harmed.

Edwards had “fished” {the teenager}, police stated, referring to a scheme through which an individual pretends to be another person on-line. Officials stated Edwards developed a relationship with the lady, realized her private data and then drove about 2,500 miles from Virginia to California.

When he arrived, police stated he parked in a neighbor’s driveway, entered {the teenager}’s house and killed her her mom, grandmother and grandfather earlier than leaving with her.

Hours after the hearth was reported, officers stated Edwards was nonetheless driving with {the teenager} in San Bernardino County. During a automobile chase, Edwards fired a gun at deputies earlier than dropping management of the Kia and going off the highway, the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department stated in a information launch. Then he received out of the automobile and died in a shootout with deputies.

The teenager has since been positioned in protecting custody.

“Our hearts go out to the Winek family and their loved ones during this time of tremendous grief, as this is a tragedy for all Riversiders,” Riverside Police Chief Larry Gonzalez stated in an announcement.

On Sunday, a GoFundMe web page was set as much as help the household. Brooke Winek was a single mother with “the biggest heart,” the fundraiser’s description stated. Sharie Winek was “sweet and caring.” Mark Winek was a “beloved” member of the household.

In the neighborhood the place the Wineks lived, mourners held a candlelight vigil Friday evening. Outside their house, a memorial of candles and flowers lined the sidewalk.

Ron Smith, a longtime good friend of Mark Winek, instructed the Press-Enterprise that he had an enormous presence in the highschool sports activities group.

“Mark was a big man in the softball and baseball coaching ranks,” Smith instructed the newspaper.

Mark Winek coached softball and baseball at Arlington High School in Riverside for almost a decade, the college stated in an announcement Monday evening. According to the GoFundMe web page, Brooke Winek additionally “found her greatest joy” in watching her daughter carry out with the highschool’s shade guard.

Many questions stay unanswered in regards to the killings, together with the trigger and method of dying, though police have stated the hearth gave the impression to be “deliberately started”.

Riverside police are persevering with to research, with help from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia, the place Edwards was most lately employed. He was employed Nov. 16, the sheriff’s workplace stated in an announcement Monday, including that Edwards’ previous employers — together with the Virginia State Police — had not “disclosed any trouble, reprimand or internal investigation” of him.

“It is shocking and saddening to the entire law enforcement community that such an evil and evil person could infiltrate law enforcement while hiding his true identity as a computer predator and killer,” the Sheriff stated in an announcement. of Washington County, Blake Andis.

Edwards, who was employed by the Virginia State Police in July 2021, “never engaged in any conduct to trigger any internal administrative or criminal investigation,” spokeswoman Corinne Geller stated in an announcement to The Washington Post. He graduated from the State Police Academy in January however resigned on Oct. 28, Geller stated.

In a Facebook submit Sunday evening, Errick Winek, who stated he was Brooke Winek’s cousin, shared the fundraising hyperlink to help the household in what lies forward, together with funerals.

“My family suffered an unimaginable tragedy this week that took the senseless lives of my Godfather Uncle Mark, my Aunt Sharie and my cousin Brooke,” he wrote. “There are so many questions and so few answers…”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *