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Virginia Cop Dead After Abducting a Teen He Catfished and Murdering Three of Her Family Members.

We've said it a million times over and we'll keep repeating it, EVERYBODY IS NOT SAFE!

A Virginia police officer, who swore to protect and serve, has been arrested after committing some of the most heinous crimes. Reports say that Austin Lee Edwards cultivated a relationship with a teen in Southern California. Edwards, 28, met the girl, who is reportedly 15, online and began trading information with her. Edwards was pretending to be someone else to gain the girl's confidence. It is believed that she shared person information with him and that is how he was able to locate her at her family's home in Riverside, California the day after Thanksgiving.

According to CBS News, officers believe Edwards traveled from Virginia to Riverside, and reportedly parked in a neighbor's driveway before walking to the teen's residence on Friday, according to Riverside Police. He subsequently murdered the teen's grandfather, grandmother and mother, 69-year-old Mark Winek, 65-year-old Sharie Winek, before walking with the teen back to his vehicle and leaving the scene, police said. 38-year-old Brooke Winek was also killed in the attack, her relationship to the teen is unknown.

The neighbor, who owned the driveway that Edwards parked in, said the teenager seemed distressed since she was barefoot, "crying a little bit," and attempted to mouth words to her. The neighbor, who asked to stay anonymous, added that Edwards wore a black trench coat and face mask. She added that the suspect was carrying a plastic bag and black backpack as he walked back to the car.

"I opened the garage door," she recounted. "He was stunned. I said 'Hey you can't park here.' He actually apologized, said sorry."

Before the paid drove off, the neighbor got the suspect's license plate and called police again. Shortly after their departure, the house burst into flames.

Edwards fled with the girl in red Kia Soul south on Highway 247. Aircraft tracked Edwards until SWAT units could get in place. The planes followed Edwards onto Highway 62 and ultimately Kelso Cima Road before the deputies could get in position. He traded gunfire with the police who were in pursuit. He crashed his car, emerged from the wreckage and began firing on officers. Edwards was shot dead at the scene.

The girl was not harmed during the pursuit or subsequent gunfire. She is currently in protective custody. Police said they did not believe she was involved in the murders or with setting the fire.

"We believe at this point that the suspect was the only one involved in the murders and in setting the fire," said Riverside Police Officer Ryan Railsback.

"This is yet another horrific reminder of the predators existing online who prey on our children," said Gonzalez. "If you've already had a conversation with your kids on how to be safe online and on social media, have it again. If not, start it now to better protect them."

"The process of meeting someone online and portraying to be someone who you're not, in order for your own gratification, whether it's sexual, financial, whatever the case is, is extremely common," said Officer Railsback. "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," said Riverside Police Chief Larry Gonzalez. A Virginia State Police spokesperson said Edwards was hired and entered the academy on July 6, 2021. Edwards graduated on Jan. 21, 2022, as a trooper and was assigned to Henrico County, within the Richmond Division. Edwards resigned on Oct. 28, 2022, according to Virginia State Police. He was then hired by the Washington County Sheriff's Office on Nov. 16, 2022, and had recently begun orientation before being assigned to the patrol division. We hope and pray that this child gets some mental health support after this traumatic event. Parents, please monitor what your children are doing online. We know it's hard and feels like an invasion of privacy but it could save a life.


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