State Police Messed Up in Hiring 'Catfishing' Cop

'Incomplete database query' cited in hiring of Austin Edwards, who'd been on psych hold in Virginia
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2022 11:00 AM CST
State Police Messed Up in Hiring 'Catfishing' Cop
Austin Lee Edwards.   (Riverside Police Department via AP)

Virginia State Police hired a state trooper, later accused of killing three people and himself, as a result of "human error." An administrative review found "human error resulted in an incomplete database query" in the hiring of Austin Lee Edwards, who allegedly killed the mother and grandparents of a California teen he'd catfished online, the department said Wednesday, per NBC News. "Although we believe this to be an isolated incident, steps are currently underway to ensure the error is not repeated going forward," it continued, adding it is "also proactively auditing existing personnel records and practices."

The statement follows reporting showing Edwards was held at a Virginia psychiatric facility in 2016 after threatening to kill himself and his father. He joined the Virginia State Police Academy in July 2021 and became a trooper after graduating on Jan. 21. The agency previously said it was unaware of his past troubles and a background check found no issues of concern. "He never exhibited any behaviors to trigger any internal administrative or criminal investigations," Wednesday's statement said, per WTVR.

Edwards, 28, resigned from the state police on Oct. 28, though the department wouldn't say why, "citing a state law barring it from discussing personnel matters," per NBC. Edwards then joined Virginia's Washington County Sheriff's Office as a deputy sheriff on Nov. 16, per CNN. The sheriff's office says past employers contacted during the hiring process reported no reprimands or internal investigations. It hasn't said whether it's investigating its hiring process more broadly. (Read more murder stories.)

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