Police Work to Unravel Circumstances Leading to Riverside Triple Killing

Ceci Partridge

(CNS) – An investigation was continuing Monday to determine what prompted the slaying of three people found inside a burning Riverside home, allegedly at the hands of a former Virginia law enforcement official who may have been “catfishing” a teen daughter of one of the victims and was later killed by San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies.

Austin Lee Edwards
Austin Lee Edwards a resident of North Chesterfield, Virginia

After the suspect was killed in Needles Friday afternoon, San Bernardino County officials identified him as 28-year-old Austin Lee Edwards, a resident of North Chesterfield, Virginia.

The bodies of 69-year-old Mark Winek, 65-year-old Shane Winek and their youngest daughter, 38-year-old Brooke Winek were found late Friday morning inside a burning home in the 11000 block of Price Court, according to the Riverside Police Department. Police said there was clear evidence the three relatives did not die as a result of the fire.

Police initially responded to the area on reports of a young female who “appeared distressed while getting into a Red Kia Soul with a man” a few houses away from where the fire was reported at about the same time.

Around 1:15 p.m. Monday, San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies spotted the red Kia Soul on Highway 247, prompting a chase during which the driver — Edwards — fired shots at pursuing deputies, officials said. Edwards eventually lost control of the car and drove off the road. The young girl in the car with him escaped and was rescued by deputies, but Edwards got out of the car and allegedly pointed a gun at a sheriff’s helicopter, prompting deputies to open fire, killing him.

Brooke Winek
Brooke Winek

According to Riverside police, Edwards had been involved in some type of “catfishing” scheme — posing online as someone else — and developed a relationship with the teen girl, who is the daughter of Brooke Winek. Edwards, identified by authorities as a former Virginia state trooper, allegedly traveled from Virginia to Riverside, where he allegedly killed the girl’s family and took the teen with him.

The teen was not injured, and authorities have said they do not believe she played any role in the killings or subsequent fire.

A GoFundMe account established to assist the Winek family had raised nearly $30,000 as of Monday morning.

Riverside police urged anyone with information regarding the fire and the three deaths to call 951-351-6050.


Sharie And Mark Winek

A vigil was held in the Wineks’ memory Saturday night, with neighbors calling them a “neighborly” family that “went out of their way to help the community.”

Copyright 2022, City News Service, Inc.

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