US cop pretended to be 17, ‘catfished’ girl before killing her family & More Trending News



The 28-year-old cop who killed three family members of an adolescent in Riverside, California had posed on-line as a teen to “groom” the 15-year-old girl, US police stated on Wednesday (native time).

Austin Lee Edwards portrayed himself as a 17-year-old whereas speaking on-line with the girl, utilizing “grooming” strategies, which might embody ways reminiscent of asking for or providing sexually specific photos, offering presents and providing compliments, Riverside Police Chief Larry Gonzalez stated at a information convention.

Gonzalez stated it’s nonetheless underneath investigation how lengthy the digital relationship between Edwards and the teenager girl transpired and what platform they used to meet or talk, however investigators consider lots of these typical exploitative methods for “sextortion” have been used on this case.

“This type of victimisation takes place across every platform, social media, messaging apps, gaming platforms,” Gonzalez stated.

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Austin Lee Edwards, the suspect in a triple homicide in Riverside, California.


Austin Lee Edwards, the suspect in a triple murder in Riverside, California.

“This is yet another horrific reminder of the predators existing online who prey on our children,” he stated. “If you’ve already had this conversation with your kids on how to be safe online and on social media, please have it again. If not, start it now to better protect them.”

Police consider Edwards, who was a newly sworn-in regulation enforcement officer in rural southwest Virginia, related with the teenager girl on-line by “catfishing” – pretending to be somebody he’s not.

Then he drove throughout the nation to her dwelling in Riverside, the place he killed her mom and grandparents and set hearth to the house, before driving off with the girl.

Police gather outside the burned home in Riverside, California.

Will Lester

Police collect outdoors the burned dwelling in Riverside, California.

Edwards’ automobile was later stopped in San Bernardino County, the place authorities initially stated he was killed in a shoot-out with police, however the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department introduced on Wednesday that he had killed himself.

The girl was not harmed and is now within the care of Child Protective Services, officers stated.

The three family members killed have been recognized as Mark Winek, 69, a longtime baseball and softball coach at Arlington High School; his spouse, Sharie Winek, 65, a loyal mom and grandmother; and their daughter, Brooke Winek, 38, a single mom of two teenage women – together with the girl manipulated by Edwards. They all lived collectively within the Riverside home.

The second daughter was not dwelling on the time of the killings, police stated.

With her husband Ben at her side, Michelle Blandin, sister of Brooke Winek, and daughter of Mark and Sharie Winek, speaks during a press conference.

Watchara Phomicinda/AP

With her husband Ben at her facet, Michelle Blandin, sister of Brooke Winek, and daughter of Mark and Sharie Winek, speaks throughout a press convention.

“This horrific event started with an inappropriate online romance between a predator and a child,” Michelle Blandin stated by tears on Wednesday, the one surviving daughter of Mark and Sharie Winek.

“He took an oath to protect, yet he failed to do so. Instead, he preyed on the most vulnerable.”

The Virginia officer who confirmed up on the Wineks’ dwelling on Friday had accomplished the police academy earlier this yr, in accordance to Virginia regulation enforcement officers, and had been newly employed as a patrol deputy with a county Sheriff’s Office simply 10 days before his rampage in Riverside.

While Blandin stated that Edwards tried to kidnap her niece, Riverside police officers stated they don’t seem to be but describing the interplay as an abduction, as they’re nonetheless combing by bodily and digital proof, making an attempt to perceive whether or not she was coerced or threatened to get into Edwards’ automobile.

However, Riverside police spokesperson Ryan Railsback stated there is no such thing as a indication the teenager girl was concerned within the killings or hearth. He stated the teenager walked to the automobile with Edwards as the home was already on hearth.


“In this tragic moment of our family, our grief, we hope some good will come from this,” Blandin stated on the press convention.

“Parents, please, please know your child’s online activity. Ask questions about what they’re doing and whom they are talking to; anybody can say they’re someone else … If something like this horrific tragedy can happen here in our neighbourhood in our community, it can happen anywhere.”

Police have been first notified of a scenario afoul on the Winek family’s cul-de-sac on Friday morning, when neighbours referred to as in a few feminine who appeared to be distressed whereas getting right into a crimson Kia Soul with a male driver. Soon after, calls got here in a few hearth on the Wineks’ dwelling.

While firefighters responded, they discovered three our bodies within the entryway of the house, and upon pulling them outdoors, officers rapidly dominated their deaths a murder.

Riverside police spokesperson Railsback didn’t expound on the reason for demise or accidents however referred to as it a “very disturbing crime scene.” He additionally stated it appeared the fireplace was “intentionally ignited”.

Police gather outside the Wineks’ home in Riverside, California.

Will Lester

Police collect outdoors the Wineks’ dwelling in Riverside, California.

Blandin stated she is grateful her niece is alive and referred to as on neighbours to look out for each other – as she stated her dad and mom’ group did.

“The loving neighbours on my parents’ street saw an unfamiliar car and they immediately reported it to authorities,” Blandin stated.

“Making that call from that neighbour saved my niece’s life; and that neighbour is a hero in our eyes.”

US cop pretended to be 17, ‘catfished’ girl before killing her family

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US cop pretended to be 17, ‘catfished’ girl before killing her family

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