Riverside, CA

Ex-State Trooper shot to death after kidnapping teen and killing entire family.

Rooted Expeditions

Firefighters and Riverside Police gather outside a burned home in Riverside, Calif., on Nov. 25, 2022, following a house fire. Three bodies.Photo byYahoo

After killing her family, a former Virginia state trooper is accused of kidnapping a California young girl he had been catfishing online, according to investigators. According to the authorities, Austin Lee Edwards, 28, traveled more than 2,500 miles across the nation to meet the teen on Friday in Riverside.

After reportedly killing the girl's grandparents and mother and setting their house on fire, Edwards fled with the victim.

Sharie Winek, 65, and her husband Mark Winek, 69. The couple was found inside the house.Photo byNew York Post

Brooke Winek, 38, is shown in a photo released by the Riverside Police Department. Winek was found inside the house in Riverside.Photo byNew York Post

Later that day, after a shootout, deputies from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department located Edwards and shot him to death.

The Riverside County Department of Public Social Services took the young victim who was discovered with Edwards into custody without incident.

According to a press release from the Riverside Police Department, Edwards, who is from North Chesterfield, Virginia, met the girl online and "catfished" her for personal information by pretending to be someone else.

Austin Lee Edwards, the suspect in a triple homicide in Southern California who died in a shootout with police.Photo byYahoo

How long the two were in communication is unknown.

Just after 11 a.m. on Friday, police in Riverside received a report for a welfare check on a young woman who "looked distressed" when getting into a red Kia Soul in the 11200 block of Price Court. This is when the terrible incident got underway.

Dispatchers then warned of smoke and a potential fire a few houses away from where police were called for the welfare check as cops were responding.

Three adults were found laying in the front entryway by the Riverside Fire Department, who then carried them outside where first responders "decided they were victims of an apparent homicide," according to police.

Later, investigators learned that the young woman mentioned in the initial welfare call had indeed resided at the residence where the bodies of the three persons were discovered, according to the police.

Firefighters and Riverside Police gather outside a burned home where the three family members were found dead.Photo byYahoo

The bodies discovered in the burned-out Riverside home belonged to the kidnapped teen's parents and grandparents: Mark Winek, 69, Sharie Winek, 65, and Brooke Winek, 38.

According to police, Edwards flew across the nation, parked his car in a neighbor's driveway, then walked to the teen's house where he killed her family before fleeing with the girl. As of Monday, the police have not released the exact causes of death.

Although the fire's origin is still under investigation, authorities claimed it appeared to have been "deliberately lit." It is unknown if the mother and grandparents died before the fire was reportedly started.

Authorities in Riverside gave a description of Edwards' car to law enforcement, and a few hours later Kelso, in San Bernardino County, officers found the car with Edwards and the girl inside.

Deputies who were responding to rounds fired by Edwards were slain, according to the police.

On July 6, 2021, Edwards enrolled at the police school after being employed by the Virginia State Police. He received his trooper diploma on January 21, 2022, and until his resignation on October 28, he was assigned to Henrico County in the Richmond Division of the organization.

First responders are shown at work at the site of a fire where three homicide victims were found, in Riverside, Calif. on Nov. 26, 2022.Photo byabc News

Authorities in California reported that Edwards also performed services for the Virginia Washington County Sheriff's Office.

According to Riverside Police Chief Larry Gonzalez, the incident is "just another horrifying reminder of the criminals who prey on our children online."

Friends and neighbors spoke about the Wineks as a lovely and caring family that was very involved in their neighborhood during a vigil held on Saturday.

Ron Smith, Mark Winek's buddy of 30 years, told the Mercury News, "You couldn't ask for a greater friend than Mark." "There will be a void in my heart that will be difficult to fill," the speaker said.

Primary sources:

1. Yahoo

2. New York Post

3. abc News

Comments / 8

Published by

If you're a fan of the abandoned, historical, and strange events and locations, then you're in the right place. I post videos and articles like what you see here every week. You can stay up to date on all my current content and updates on my YouTube channel. Link in bio.

Texas State

More from Rooted Expeditions

Comments / 0