RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC)– Relatives of a family found murdered in a house fire in Riverside the day after Thanksgiving will speak out after new details about the killings are released.
A press conference with members of the Winek family is scheduled for Wednesday at 9 a.m
Days after the bodies of Mark, Sharie and Brooke Winek were found, detectives reconvened at the scene Tuesday to gather more evidence.
“The family will have this house boarded up just for security reasons,” Ofc said. Ryan Railsback with the Riverside Police Department outside the Price Court house. “Our detectives wanted to get out of here and just for a second tour while it’s light and not as smoky.”
Detectives, accompanied by family members of the victims, removed several bags of evidence Tuesday afternoon. The police did not provide any further information about the finds.
The suspect in the triple murder case, 28-year-old Austin Edwards, is accused of enticing a 15-year-old girl who lives in the home into an online relationship, a scheme known as catfishing.
Edwards, a recently hired Virginia sheriff’s deputy, reportedly drove all the way across the country to Riverside to try to meet the young girl.
READ MORE | Riverside murders: VA man accused of fishing one of victims’ teenage daughter before killing family
Detectives are still trying to unravel the events leading up to the horrific display of violence at the home, but Edwards is accused of murdering the 15-year-old’s mother and two grandparents and then leaving the scene with her.
A 911 call made by a neighbor alerted police to a possible sighting of the suspect leaving the scene with the girl; Moments later, the house burst into flames. Because authorities had the suspect’s license plate number from that phone call, authorities were able to quickly locate him using technology.
About three hours later, he was confronted by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputies and killed during a shootout.
READ MORE | The neighbor saw the teenager being kidnapped by a suspect just before the house burst into flames
Detectives have questioned the young girl but say they still know very little about how it all began and what Edward’s intentions were when he left for California.
“We’re still checking when he got here… here in Riverside, but that’s going to take a while,” Railsback said. “We’ve got this whole digital crime scene that we need to locate, probably with warrants, and sort through to see if there’s anything where he relayed his intentions or his plans.”
But as horrific as this crime was, Riverside Police say catfishing happens all the time.
“The art of catfishing is lying about one’s personality in order to lure in someone who might not normally be attracted to who one really is,” said Riverside Det. Robert Olsen.
“Many of these cases start with the abuser actually talking to our kids about things that interest our kids, whether it’s music or sports, television or movies,” he said. “In that process, once they gain confidence, they move on to what is known as grooming.”
Olsen said his team has made about 40 arrests since June 2020 for seducing a minor online.
“We’ve arrested women, government officials, celebrities, there are no specific profiles, that’s what makes this crime so difficult (to investigate),” he said.
Olsen said parents need to take the protection of their children into their own hands.
“As soon as you put a smart device in your child’s hands, which is nowadays between the ages of 4 and 5, you need to make a habit of allowing them to browse that device whenever you want, you have the passcode not them,” he said.
“Because now that they’re getting into their teens and they start going into chat rooms where some of that behavior is really happening, they don’t get rebellious when you walk up to them and snatch their tablet out of their hands because you want to see what they are doing do. do.”
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https://abc7.com/riverside-murders-winek-family-killings-murder-investigation-press-conference/12510076/ Riverside Murders: The victims’ families are expected to speak during the press conference on Wednesday, November 30th