Police by no means searched ‘catfish’ cop Austin Lee Edwards’ second residence

Police by no means searched a Richmond-area residence belonging to Austin Lee Edwards, the Virginia cop who killed three family of a 15-year-old Riverside woman whom police say he “catfished” on-line.

A choose permitted Edwards’ eviction from that residence Wednesday. Now that the eviction is official, any proof that may exist inside could possibly be eliminated or destroyed, if it has not been already.

Along with the Riverside 15-year-old he kidnapped, Edwards pursued no less than one different little one, a 13-year-old woman whom he solicited nude pictures from even after she disclosed her age. Consultants say that many predators have a number of victims and that any proof, particularly know-how or paper recordsdata, may assist police in studying about different kids or abusers.

However the Riverside Police Division, which is main the investigation into the murders, didn’t see a necessity to look the residence.

“We did not need to in relation to our investigation,” Ryan Railsback, a spokesman for the division, mentioned in a press release. Officers had “already had items seized from his [Saltville] house that are relevant to our murder investigation,” Railsback added.

Riverside police solely searched Edwards’ newly bought white Cape Cod-style residence in Saltville, Va., which he purchased shortly earlier than the murders. The Smyth County Sheriff’s Division helped execute that search on Nov. 26, the day after the killings.

The Chesterfield County police division and sheriff’s workplace didn’t search Edwards’ Richmond-area residence both, officers there mentioned.

Sooner or later, police will need to safe a warrant and conduct a search to find out if there’s any proof to counsel if Edwards abused different victims, mentioned William Pelfrey, a professor of felony justice at Virginia Commonwealth College’s Wilder Faculty of Authorities. “He is dead. So there is no case to be made against him. But if there were other victims or firearms, that seems like something police would want to know,” he mentioned.

Police could also be reluctant to look Edwards’ residence as a result of having an officer commit homicide and pursue kids sexually is “not a good look” for legislation enforcement, Pelfrey mentioned.

“There may be little interest among police to pursue information about other victims,” he added. He famous that if Edwards’ landlord instructed authorities that the residence was vacant, then the police wouldn’t want to look the residence.

A go to to Edwards’ residence Wednesday indicated that no less than some gadgets belonging to him should be inside. The blinds to the two-story residence had been principally closed, and a reporter may solely see a part of the kitchen, which gave the impression to be empty. What gave the impression to be a shirt tag dated February 2022 from Flying Cross, an organization that sells legislation enforcement uniforms, was seen by means of the sliding glass door within the again.

A blue and inexperienced ball, which gave the impression to be a cat toy, was additionally seen by means of the glass door. Edwards owned a feminine cat for years.

The blinds on Edwards’ second-floor window had been damaged and two items of mail had been hooked up to the entrance door knob with rubber bands. One was an envelope that gave the impression to be an eviction discover. The second was a discover asking tenants to maintain their porches clear. A worn pair of black Air Jordans could possibly be seen on the bottom outdoors the entrance door. The again patio was empty.

Requested in an e mail whether or not Edwards’ landlord instructed Riverside police if his residence was vacant, Railsback replied: “If there is any relevance to our investigation, the local authorities will contact our detectives.”

The native authorities — the Chesterfield County Police — should not concerned within the Edwards investigation, Elizabeth Caroon, a spokesperson for the division, mentioned in an e mail.

Samantha Pallett, chief working officer for Levco Administration, declined to remark when a Instances reporter requested by telephone if the corporate had been inside Edwards’ residence or if it had spoken with police in Riverside. “Per our company policy, I am not able to comment on the matter,” mentioned Pallett, who hung up when the reporter requested her to element the coverage.

Police ought to search Edwards’ residence for proof that would make clear the killings or determine different victims who might have providers, Jane Manning, a former New York Metropolis intercourse crimes prosecutor and present director of the Girls’s Equal Justice Venture, instructed The Instances. Any digital units he used to speak with different predators could possibly be particularly helpful, she added.

The possession and use of kid pornography and the abuse of actual kids can overlap, Manning mentioned, including that it’s frequent for predators to share little one pornography. “Some predators use pornography to groom children,” she mentioned. “Some predators use pornography to facilitate their own planning of the crimes they want to commit.”

“Edwards is not someone who acted on a sudden impulse that he quickly regretted,” she added. “This is someone who sought out and groomed an underaged kid. He engaged in this conduct on multiple occasions. This suggests that he was deeply committed to abusing kids. It is virtually certain there are more victims.”

Police might have already missed their window to look the residence, nonetheless. Earlier than the slayings, Edwards fell behind on hire and his landlord moved to evict him.

Courtroom data point out that Edwards owed $804 for November hire, $80.40 in late charges, $61 for courtroom prices, a $150 legal professional payment and $90 in damages for utilities and trash, in line with Chesterfield Common District Courtroom Civil Supervisor Lynn Cosner.

On the Wednesday listening to, Choose Keith Hurley dismissed the case, citing Edwards’ demise.

Talking to an legal professional representing the property administration firm, Hurley mentioned, “You know who that is, right?” The legal professional mentioned she did and each famous the presence of a reporter within the courtroom.

Each legislation enforcement businesses that employed Edwards have confronted intense scrutiny for hiring him. Edwards labored for the Virginia State Police for 9 months final yr. He joined the Washington County Sheriff’s Workplace as a deputy 9 days earlier than the Riverside killings.

Final month, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin requested the state’s inspector basic to probe the state police’s hiring of Edwards. Edwards instructed the state police when he utilized that he had voluntarily checked himself right into a psychological well being facility in 2016. That disclosure ought to have prompted additional investigation, however didn’t, Gary Settle, the state police superintendent, wrote in a Dec. 30 letter. The state police didn’t search databases for Edwards’ psychological well being historical past earlier than hiring him as an officer, Settle wrote.

Two deputies from the Washington County Sheriff’s Workplace, the legislation enforcement company that employed Edwards instantly earlier than his demise, eliminated gadgets from his residence in a neighboring county the day earlier than the official search. Authorities there have defended the search, saying they acted to guard the general public.

There isn’t any indication that the Washington County Sheriff’s Workplace is underneath investigation.

Logan reported from Brooklyn, New York, Lin from Los Angeles and Griset and Nocera from Chesterfield, Va.