Riverside Girl, 15 abducted after her mother and grandparents killed, after meeting predator online.
November 27, 2022
A fifteen-year-old girl, unidentified has lost both of her parents and her sister by a Virginia State Trooper named Austin Lee Edwards. Her identity has not been publicized.
It has been released that Edwards met her online through a 'catfishing' scheme, pretending to be a different person; who was 17. He developed enough of a relationship with her enough for her to believe she was safe enough to share texts, phone calls, and give him her address. Edwards traveled from his residence in Virginia to Riverside, to take her.
Edwards drove into the neighbors residence where he parked his vehicle, went in to the girls residence, killing her grandmother, Shrie Winek, 65, and grandfather, Mark Winek, 65, and her mother, Brooke Winek, 38. He then set their house on fire and abducted the girl. Hours later, Edwards and the girl were in the vehicle on a high speed chase from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, opening fire on the SWAT Team, which led to Edwards being gunned down.
The Riverside, California Police got a call for a welfare check concerning a young woman who “appeared distressed” when getting into a red Kia Soul in the 11200 block of Price Court. During the response time, dispatchers were then alerted to smoke and a possible fire a few houses away from where police were called for the welfare check.
The three victims were located in the front of the house where the house fire started. They were murdered before the fire started. It was reported that they were bound and gagged.
Edwards was hired with Henrico County, Virginia department, entering the academy in 2021, and resigned from the department on October 28, 2022, about a month prior. Cause for his resignation was not publicized. November 16, 2022 he began working for the Washington County Sheriff's Office.
After the murders, it was revealed that Edwards for some reason blacked out the windows of his house in Virginia with black car tint, making it impossible to see inside his residence. He had just purchased this house eleven days before the abduction, murder and arson spree.
The surviving fifteen year old was immediately taken into protective police custody after Edwards was recovered during the police chase in Mojave desert. She was physically unharmed.
Edwards died of a single gunshot wound. Conflicting reports have come out and it is unconfirmed if he took his own life or if he was killed in by law enforcement agents during the shootout.
It was not yet known how long she had been in contact with Edwards. It was reported that he asked her for nude photos, and she stopped speaking to him. It is believed these acts were driven by his need for redemption, or persistence to take her.
Information accumulated by:
CBS Las Angeles