Shocking new details have been revealed about the ‘Catfish’ cop who murdered a teenager’s family and turned the gun on himself

The VIRGINIA sheriff’s deputy who allegedly killed three family members of a 15-year-old girl he fished online killed himself with a service weapon, authorities said.

Austin Lee Edwards, 28, drove across the country to California on November 25 and killed the girl’s mother and grandparents.

Austin Lee Edwards, 28, is said to have killed himself with a service gun after a shootout with police

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Austin Lee Edwards, 28, is said to have killed himself with a service gun after a shootout with policeCredit: AP
Edwards is believed to have killed 38-year-old Brooke Winek after she attempted to have a sexual relationship with her 15-year-old daughter online

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Edwards is believed to have killed 38-year-old Brooke Winek after she attempted to have a sexual relationship with her 15-year-old daughter onlinePhoto credit: Riverside Police Department

The sheriff’s deputy then set fire to her riverfront home with Mark Winek, 69; Sharie Winek, 65; and her 38-year-old daughter Brooke Winek inside, they added.

Later that day, he committed suicide in a shootout with the San Bernardino sheriff’s deputies.

The young girl who Edwards set out to sexually blackmail online has been rescued.

She is also not believed to have been involved in the crimes or had any knowledge of them, police said.

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Michelle Blandin, daughter of Mark and Sharie and sister of Brooke, said a neighbor called the police when they saw the distressed teenager get into an unidentified car.

“That call from that neighbor saved my niece’s life,” Blandin said, his voice shaking.

“This neighbor is a hero in our eyes.”

“Our detectives determined that the weapon used was an Edwards semi-automatic service pistol,” said Gloria Huerta, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department.

The Riverside Police Department in California is investigating the three murders and said it’s still unclear how the family members were killed.

Edwards was a resident of North Chesterfield, Virginia who reportedly pretended to be a 17-year-old boy online in order to start a romantic relationship with the girl.

He managed to get their personal information by tricking them with a fake identity, known as “catfishing,” police said.

When Edwards asked the girl to send him nude photos of herself, she cut off all communication.

At the time of the murders, Edwards was a former Virginia State Police Officer and Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy.

Both authorities said they had found no warning signs about Edwards before he was hired, but a police report from the Abingdon Police Department revealed he was jailed in 2016 on a psychiatric evaluation.

Years before he entered law enforcement, Edwards was reportedly treating to kill himself and his father.

A day after the Los Angeles Times broke news of Edward’s mental health episode, Virginia State Police said a recently completed review revealed “human error,” resulting in an incomplete database lookup during the hiring process.

EVIL PLAN

On Thursday, TMZ reported that Edwards blacked out the windows of his Saltville home after buying it just weeks ago.

His new neighbors told the publication it was one of the first things he did after moving in on Nov. 14 — less than two weeks before his trip to Southern California.

Pictures show the house with blackened windows that make it impossible to see inside.

And according to TMZ, the two-bed, two-bath is obscured from the main street by another house in front of it.

Authorities have not provided any further details about Edwards and the teenager’s communications. Officials are investigating whether he has been harassing other minors across the country.

It’s also unclear if this was the girl’s first personal encounter with Edwards or if she knew he was coming to California, officials said.

Authorities believe Edwards parked his vehicle in a neighbor’s driveway, went to the house and killed the family members before leaving with the girl on Friday.

Police found the bodies of Mark Winek, 69, his wife Sharie Winek, 65, and their daughter Brooke Winek, 38, in their burning home on Friday.

Neighbor Sergio Gutierrez told DailyMail he saw the victims’ bodies being carried by first responders and claimed they were bound and gagged.

“Her hands were tied behind her back. A lady had tape over her mouth. It was scary,” Gutierrez said.

KILLER COFFEE

Blandin spoke on November 30 after the terrible tragedy.

“Catfishing has resulted in the deaths of the three most important people in my life … my father, my mother and my sister,” Blandin said.

“This started as an inappropriate online romance between a predator and a child.

“This was an adult who traveled across the country to kidnap a 15-year-old girl, my niece, our family member, with the idea of ​​kidnapping her and killing and devastating our family.

“He swore an oath of protection and failed…”

Washington County Sheriff Blake Andis was shocked that the accused killer went among those charged with protecting him.

He said: “It is shocking and saddening for the entire law enforcement community that such a wicked and evil individual is able to infiltrate law enforcement while hiding their true identity as a computer thief and murderer.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Winek family, their friends, officers and everyone affected by this heinous crime.”

Blandin issued a cybersecurity alert for parents: “Parents, please be aware of your children’s online activities.

“Ask questions about what they are doing and who they are talking to.

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“Take us by example… not out of fear, but share our story to help your parenting.”

She added, “My family and I really appreciate the love and compassion … no one could have imagined this crime happening to our family, especially just one day after Thanksgiving.”

Mark Winek, 69, and Sharie Winek, 65, were also killed

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Mark Winek, 69, and Sharie Winek, 65, were also killedPhoto credit: Riverside Police Department
Edwards also reportedly set the family home on fire

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Edwards also reportedly set the family home on firePhoto credit: KTLA

https://www.the-sun.com/news/6902179/andrew-lee-edwards-triple-homicide-update-riverside-california/ Shocking new details have been revealed about the ‘Catfish’ cop who murdered a teenager’s family and turned the gun on himself

DevanCole

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