Sheriff’s Office goes on record regarding recent hire, since accused of triple murder

Police say 28-year-old Austin Lee Edwards traveled across country to the home of a teenager he...
Police say 28-year-old Austin Lee Edwards traveled across country to the home of a teenager he "catfished" in an online relationship then allegedly killed her mother and grandparents. He was killed in a shootout with deputies.(Source: Riverside Police Department via CNN)
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 3:42 PM EST
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WASHINGTON COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - The Washington County Sheriff’s Office is going on the record about a man hired recently to work in its patrol division, and has since been shot to death after a kidnapping and triple murder in California.

Police in Riverside, California say Austin Lee Edwards traveled from Virginia to Riverside to meet with a teen girl he had met online while leading her to believe he was someone else. He then allegedly killed three members of her family, set the family’s house on fire and kidnapped the girl, before being shot to death by deputies.

Edwards had worked for Virginia State Police until being hired by Washington County November 16, 2022. Virginia State Police confirm Edwards graduated the academy in January 2022, and became a trooper assigned to Henrico County. He then resigned from VSP in late October before being hired by Washington County.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office posted this note to the public on social media:

At the time of his application for employment with the Washington County Virginia Sheriff’s Office, Austin Lee Edwards was employed with the Virginia State Police as a trooper, having previously completed the Virginia State Police Academy in January 2022.

Past employers and the Virginia State Police were contacted during the hiring processing; however, no employers disclosed any troubles, reprimands, or internal investigations pertaining to Edwards.

Edwards was hired with this agency on November 16, 2022 and had recently began orientation to be assigned to the patrol division.

“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,” said Washington County Sheriff Blake Andis.

This agency is currently assisting the Riverside Police Department in California with this investigation.