'Catfishing' Cop Made Odd House Purchase

Austin Lee Edwards blacked out its windows
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 7, 2022 12:25 PM CST
'Catfishing' Cop Made Odd House Purchase
This photo provided by the Riverside Police Department shows Austin Lee Edwards, the suspect in a triple homicide in Southern California who died Nov. 25, 2022.   (Riverside Police Department via AP)

The Virginia law enforcement officer who allegedly abducted a teenage girl after killing her mother and grandparents in California had threatened to kill people before. A years-old police report obtained by the Los Angeles Times describes a Feb. 7, 2016, incident in which Austin Lee Edwards refused medical treatment for a self-inflicted injury, then threatened to kill himself and his father. Christopher Roy Edwards, who mentioned possible trouble with his son's girlfriend, told police he used a screwdriver to open a locked bathroom door; inside he said he found his son with a bloody hand, amid knives and a hatchet. Paramedics called to the home by the father said the younger Edwards was attempting to escape and resistant to treatment. They notified police.

When an officer ordered Edwards to show his hands, he "began screaming and threatening everyone," according to the report. At a hospital, he allegedly said he would kill his father and himself the moment he was out of handcuffs. He was moved to a psychiatric facility after medical professionals issued a temporary detention order, stating there was a "substantial likelihood" that Edwards would suffer harm "as a result of mental illness," per the Times. He killed himself nearly seven years later. Though police initially said the 28-year-old died in a shootout in California after he was seen driving with his 15-year-old victim, officers now say he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The teen, with whom Edwards had struck up an online relationship while posing as a 17-year-old, was unharmed, police say. As for what may have awaited her in Virginia, TMZ reports Edwards had purchased an $80,000 home in Saltville on Nov. 14 and "almost immediately blacked out the windows." The seller tells NBC News Edwards purchased it sight unseen and hung blackout curtains and tinted the windows after moving in. He last saw Edwards on Nov. 22. A friend of Edwards says he claimed his girlfriend of three years would be moving to Virginia, per WCYB. "That's why he bought the house."

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Edwards never disclosed the 2016 incident to Virginia State Police, which hired him as a trooper in January, a rep tells the Times, adding an investigation into the hiring process is under way. Edwards resigned from the agency in October before joining Virginia's Washington County Sheriff’s Office on Nov. 16. That office declined to comment, per the Times. (If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, seek help by calling 988 in the US.)

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