The hiring of a triple-murder police officer has been accused of “human error”.

Virginia authorities say “human error” led to the hiring of a former state trooper accused of “fishing” a 15-year-old girl and then killing three members of her family.

Virginia State Police said in a statement Wednesday that an administrative investigation determined that an unknown “human error resulted in a complete query of the database” during the hiring of Austin Lee Edwards.

“While we believe this is an isolated incident, steps are currently being taken to ensure that the error does not happen again,” the agency said. “The department is also actively investigating existing personnel records and practices.”

The state police spoke after the incident Los Angeles Times Edwards was taken into custody for a psychiatric evaluation in 2016 after he threatened to kill his father and himself years before pursuing a career in law enforcement, a police report said Tuesday.

Virginia authorities have blamed “human error” in the hiring of Austin Lee Edwards, 28, a former state trooper and deputy sheriff who killed three people last month.

The report raised questions about how Edwards was hired by the Virginia State Police and later the Virginia Sheriff’s Office without raising red flags.

Both law enforcement agencies said they found no warning signs about Edwards and that none of the previous employers revealed problems during background checks.

He entered the Virginia State Police Academy in January 2021 and retired 15 months later on October 28, 2022.

Mark Winek (right), 69, and his wife Sharie Winek, 65.
Mark Winek (right), 69, and his wife Sharie Winek, 65.
Brooke Winek, 38 years old.
Brooke Winek, 38 years old.

Edwards was hired by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office just 11 days before the murder.

California authorities said Edwards posed online as a 17-year-old boy while talking to the 15-year-old victim. He asked the teenager to send her nude photos, at which point he stopped communicating with her.

He drove across the country and killed the girl’s mother, Brooke Winek, 38, and grandmothers, Mark Winek, 69, and Shari Winek, 65, on November 25 before setting fire to the family’s riverside home. He drove away with Smyr.

Edwards killed himself the same day during a shootout with San Bernardino sheriff’s deputies. The girl was rescued and taken into custody, where she is receiving trauma counseling, her relatives said.

In a report written by police in Abingdon, Virginia, Edwards described a mental health episode in February 2016, when he was 21 years old.

Edwards watched the Super Bowl with his father on Feb. 7, the report said. That night, the father woke up to the sound of his son making noises in the bathroom. The father opened the door with a screwdriver and saw that his son had injured himself.

A memorial is shown outside the Wineck family home in Riverside, California.
A memorial is shown outside the Wineck family home in Riverside, California.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

When emergency medical personnel arrived, they found Edwards being held by his father. When police arrived, they found “a lot of blood” inside the home.

“Austin made several statements to the officers that he wanted to die, that he would attempt to kill himself while free of restraints, and that he would kill his father,” police wrote in the report.

Edwards was taken to a local hospital. His father told authorities he didn’t know why his son hurt himself, but said he may have been worried about his relationship with his girlfriend. There were knives and a small hat in the house.

Because of Edwards’ suicidal and homicidal statements, an emergency arrest warrant was issued to allow medical experts to assess whether he met the requirements of a temporary arrest warrant.

In response to a motion filed by the Los Angeles Times, a Washington County judge issued a temporary restraining order against Edwards, stating that “there is a substantial likelihood that Edwards will seriously injure or harm himself as a result of his mental illness.” the near future.

That day, he was ordered taken to Ridgeview Pavilion, a psychiatric hospital in Bristol, Virginia.

Edwards had been hired by the Washington County Sheriff's Office just 11 days before the murder.
Edwards had been hired by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office just 11 days before the murder.
Virginia State Police

After details of the Abingdon police report were made public, Virginia State Police said Edwards never disclosed any incident during his recruitment process or while on the force that would disqualify him from serving as a trooper.

With post wires


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