A former Virginia state trooper died in a shootout with police after he allegedly murdered the family of a teenage girl he catfished.
According to CNN, Austin Lee Edwards, 28, was killed by police Friday in Southern California after he reportedly drove across the country to meet a 15-year-old girl he’d duped online. Edwards is accused of murdering 69-year-old Mark Winek, Sharie Winek, 65, and Brooke Winek, 38, at a home in Riverside’s La Sierra neighborhood, and setting the house on fire.
After deceptively developing a relationship with the 15-year-old online, Edwards drove from Virginia to California. He’s accused of killing the teen’s grandfather, grandmother, and mother before abducting the girl and leaving the scene.
Police were summoned to the home after a neighbor called about a girl who appeared distressed while getting into a car with a man, who was identified as Edwards.
Several hours later, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department deputies were able to track Edwards’ vehicle down. When they caught up with him, Edwards opened fire before getting fatally shot. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
Edwards’ death comes just 10 days after he’d been hired by the Washington County, Virginia Sheriff’s Office.
“It is shocking and sad to the entire law enforcement community that such an evil and wicked person could infiltrate law enforcement while concealing his true identity as a computer predator and murderer,” Washington County Sheriff Blake Andis said in a news release. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Winek family, their friends, officers, and all of those affected by this heinous crime.”