Man Accused Of Catfishing Teen, Killing Her Family, Fatally Shot By Police

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A Virginia man accused of 'catfishing' a teenage girl and killing her family was fatally shot by police in California.

Authorities received a 911 call to perform a welfare check on a young woman at a home in Riverside, California. The caller said that girl seemed distressed as she got into a car with an unknown man.

When officers arrived at the house, they started receiving calls about a fire at a nearby home.

The Riverside Fire Department was called to the scene and quickly put out the flames. When they went inside, they found the bodies of three adult victims on the first floor.

The victims were identified as 69-year-old Mark Winek, his wife, 65-year-old Sharie Winek, and their daughter, 38-year-old Brooke Winek.

Investigators learned the young woman who was the subject of the initial 911 call lived in the house that burned down. They identified 28-year-old Austin Lee Edwards as the suspect and managed to track his vehicle.

When officers tried to pull over Edwards, he opened fire on the police. Deputies returned fire and fatally shot Edwards. The teenage girl was unharmed and placed in the protective custody of the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services.

Authorities said that Edwards, who previously worked for the Virginia State Police and the Washington County Sheriff's Office, catfished the teenage girl and then killed her family.

"Our hearts go out to the Winek family and their loved ones during this time of tremendous grief, as this is a tragedy for all Riversiders," Riverside Police Chief Larry Gonzalez said. "This is yet another horrific reminder of the predators existing online who prey on our children. If you've already had a conversation with your kids on how to be safe online and on social media, have it again. If not, start it now to better protect them."

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