ABINGDON – Co-workers of Austin Lee Edwards, the Virginia police officer who killed the grandparents and mother of a Riverside, California, 15-year-old girl who looked online, removed a sheriff’s truck and a black trash bag from Edwards’ property. the night before he was officially searched, according to an eyewitness and video reviewed by the Los Angeles Times.
Two deputies from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the law enforcement agency that hired Edwards just before his death, arrived at the white Cape Cod-style home with blacked-out windows late on Nov. 25, the day of the killings.
Riverside Police, who are leading the homicide investigation, were unaware of the actions of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. “We are not aware of any action taken at his home prior to the November 26th search warrant,” Riverside Police spokesman Ryan Railsback said. “We are not aware of any further search.”
The eyewitness said the officers arrived at the home on the evening of November 25 – the same day the Riverside murders took place – and did not see the officers enter but saw the deputies coming from the back of the house. with a bin bag before you leave the premises by vehicle.
The 42-second video shows two people near the house, one of them holding a flashlight in one hand and the black trash bag in the other. Then they both walk away from the house. The eyewitness said the two deputies drove off separately, one in a patrol car and the other in a Washington County Sheriff’s Office truck that had been parked in Edwards’ driveway for days.
Two former law enforcement officers in Virginia, who are familiar with the matter and reviewed the video, testified that they identified the two officers in the video as deputies with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
The Times has given anonymity to the eyewitness and the former officers because they are afraid they will be able to speak to the media.
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Edwards, 28, started as a patrol deputy with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office on November 16.
Riverside police have said Edwards posed as a 17-year-old while communicating with the 15-year-old online. In November, he drove across the country to her Riverside home and killed three of her family members before setting the house on fire and leaving with the girl.
San Bernardino County officials initially said Edwards was killed when police fired shots when the officers stopped his car. But the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said last week that Edwards died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The teenage girl was not physically injured.
Edwards’ tenure as a police officer was short. He entered the Virginia State Police Academy on July 6, 2021, and after graduating on January 21 of this year, he was assigned to Henrico County, within the Richmond Division. He retired from the Virginia State Police on October 28. A spokesman for the Virginia State Police told The Times on Wednesday that Edwards was hired due to “human error” in the agency’s background check process.
Neither the Washington County Sheriff’s Office nor the Smyth County Commonwealth’s Attorney immediately responded to a request for comment.
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