On Nov. 26, deputies spotted Austin Edwards driving a red Kia Soul south on Highway 247. Aircraft followed Edwards until SWAT units could get in place.
Edwards was accused of murdering three adult victims, as well as kidnapping a teenage girl.
The teen girl was not harmed during the pursuit of the suspect. She was placed into protective custody of the Riverside County Department of Public and Social Services.
Authorities say Edwards met the female teenager through the common form of online deception known as ‘catfishing.’ According to the Riverside Police Department, Edwards developed a relationship with the teenager online. He received her personal information and was able to obtain the teen’s address.
Edwards made his way over to Riverside, where the young girl and her family resided. He traveled all the way from his own residence in Virginia. When he arrived at the teen’s house, the suspect murdered the teen’s grandfather, grandmother, and mother.
Mary Winek, 69, Sharie Winek, 65, and Brooke Winek, 38, were the victims that were killed by the catfishing man. A GoFundMe campaign has been started to help with the funeral expenses of the three victims and the continued support of two teenage girls who lost their family members.
The man tried to kidnap the teen and drove away from the murder scene in his red Kia Soul. SWAT teams and police aircrafts were able to locate him, but Edwards tried to shoot back in retaliation.
Eventually, Edwards drove off the road and crashed. He tried to leave his vehicle and aim his firearm at police officers that were tracking him down in a helicopter.
Shortly after this, the suspect was shot by police to stop any further criminal activity. After being shot, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Until just a few days before killing the teen’s family members in a triple-homicide, Austin Edwards was actually working to enforce the law. He was part of his local police deportment and had the job for over a year before the murder happened.