Virginia man catfishing and kidnapping a teen after killing her 3 family members


Quick Country

Police are currently investigating the events that led up to the murder of the Winek family.

A former Virginia police officer is believed to have murdered a family in Riverside, California, after catfishing a young woman online. He traveled in his car which was around 3,000 miles.

The ex-cop was identified as Austin Lee Edward, 28 of North Chesterfield, Virginia.  Detectives said they believe Edward had met the teen through catfishing.

Officers with the Riverside Police were dispatched Friday to check the welfare of a young female who appeared distressed while getting into a red car with a man, police said. While officers were responding to a 911 call, the dispatcher began getting calls about a fire in the same neighborhood, just a few houses away from where the welfare check originated.

When firefighters arrived at the scene, they discovered three adults lying in the front entryway of the burning home. When they were pulled outside the house, it was determined they were victims of an apparent homicide. The victims have been identified as Mark Winek,69, his wife Sharie Winek,65, and their daughter Brooke Winek 38. The exact causes of the deaths are still pending.

The investigation determined the female that appeared distressed was the teenager who lived where the house fire and homicides occurred, police said.

Police found that Edwards had developed an online relationship with the teen and had obtained her personal information. He traveled from Virginia to Riverside California, where he parked his vehicle in a neighbor’s driveway and walked to the teen’s home. authorities believe Edwards murdered the teen’s grandfather, grandmother, and mother before walking back to his vehicle with the teen and leaving.

After several hours Edward was spotted driving with the teen through San Bernardino County. Edward exchanged gunfire with the San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies attempting to stop him, was shot by deputies and was later pronounced dead at the scene.

The teen was unharmed and later placed into protective custody of the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services, police said.

Edwards resigned from the Virginia state police in October, according to the agency. Detectives in California learned he was “recently employed at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in the state of Virginia.”



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

— Washington County Sheriff, Blake Andis