HomeCrimeLawsuit filed in Austin Lee Edwards kidnapping, murder spree

Lawsuit filed in Austin Lee Edwards kidnapping, murder spree

A Virginia deputy met a 15-year-old girl online, traveled across the country, illegally gained access to her residence in California, killed three members of her family, set fire to their home, kidnapped the girl, and then killed himself during a shootout with other members of law enforcement. Now, the surviving family has filed a lawsuit against the sheriff’s department that hired him just days before the massacre.

In July 2021, Austin Lee Edwards was hired by the Virginia State Police. In January 2022, he graduated from the police academy. In October of last year, he quit his first job in law enforcement. On Nov. 16, 2022, he was hired by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

On Nov. 25, 2022, Edwards brutally murdered Mark Winek, 69, Sharon “Sharie” Winek, 65, and Brooke Winek, 38. The girl, Brooke Winek’s daughter, was ultimately rescued, but the scars and trauma remain.

“Edwards never should have been hired by the Sheriff’s Department,” lead attorney David Ring told Law&Crime. “He was barred by the courts from owning or possessing a gun because of his mental illness and because he was a clear danger to the community. He used his position as a sheriff’s deputy and the gun they gave him to kill these innocent victims.”

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