Virginia governor asks for probe into hiring of ‘catfishing’ cop

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has requested the state’s inspector basic to analyze the Virginia State Police’s hiring of Austin Lee Edwards, the now-deceased cop who killed three members of the family of a 15-year-old Riverside lady he “catfished” on-line.

Macaulay Porter, a spokesperson for Youngkin, confirmed Thursday that the inspector basic will “undertake an independent and thorough investigation of all allegations” surrounding Edwards’ hiring. Porter declined to specify which companies are being investigated.

The state inspector basic’s workplace doesn’t have the authority to probe native policing companies, in line with Kate Hourin, the workplace’s spokeswoman. Hourin declined to remark additional.

Edwards was a trooper with the Virginia State Police for 9 months earlier than he resigned on Oct. 28. He labored as a deputy on the Washington County Sheriff’s Workplace earlier than fatally capturing himself together with his service weapon in a Southern California desert final month.

Washington County Sheriff Blake Andis and Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller declined to remark.

Porter, Youngkin’s spokesperson, declined to say when Youngkin had ordered the probe.

Public information first reported by The Instances earlier this month present that Edwards was detained for psychiatric analysis in 2016 after slicing his hand and threatening to kill himself and his father. Emergency medical technicians known as the police to assist restrain Edwards.

Edwards was detained beneath an emergency custody order and transported to an area hospital beneath police escort. A decide accepted a brief detention order for Edwards and he was transferred to a psychiatric facility later that very same day.

Data reviewed by The Instances earlier this week present that Edwards instructed the Virginia State Police that he had voluntarily checked himself right into a psychological well being facility in 2016. A Virginia felony legislation skilled instructed The Instances the disclosure ought to have triggered additional investigation by the Virginia State Police earlier than Edwards was employed.

Geller, the state police spokesperson, had beforehand mentioned the company discovered no “indicators of concern” throughout its “extensive” vetting of Edwards. She instructed The Instances that the state police wouldn’t rent troopers who had been detained beneath emergency custody orders or momentary detention orders, and attributed Edward’s hiring to “human error” within the company’s background test course of.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Workplace, which employed Edwards instantly earlier than his demise, had beforehand mentioned “no employers disclosed any troubles, reprimands, or internal investigations pertaining to Edwards.”

The Virginia tv information station CBS 6 Information first reported Wednesday that Youngkin had requested a probe and mentioned that the governor believes the hiring concerned human error. “Once the investigation is completed, there will be full transparency,” Youngkin instructed reporters Wednesday.

In 2021, 5 years after his 2016 psychiatric detention, Edwards entered the Virginia State Police Academy. He graduated Jan. 21 of this 12 months and have become a state trooper. He joined the sheriff’s workplace in Washington County as a deputy in November.

Sooner or later throughout that point, Edwards catfished a 15-year-old lady on-line by pretending to be 17 years previous, Riverside police mentioned. In late November, he drove to the lady’s Riverside house and killed her grandparents and her mom earlier than setting the home on hearth and fleeing with the lady.

Deputies tried to intercept Edwards about 200 miles away in unincorporated San Bernardino County. He fired at a legislation enforcement automobile earlier than turning his service weapon on himself, in line with a spokesperson for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Division. The teenage lady was discovered bodily unhurt.