Richmond, Va. ( Associated Press) – Virginia’s governor is demanding a full investigation into the case of an officer who was hired by state police and drove across the country to California to kidnap a 15-year-old girl, kill her family of three. and eventually commit suicide. The Virginia police and the station he worked for say they had no indication what background checks would go into him before he was hired.
But in the weeks following Austin Lee Edwards’ rampage in Riverside, California, it has become clear that Virginia police ignored clear signals about his mental health before hiring him in 2021.
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has demanded that the state inspector general conduct a “thorough investigation”.
“I think there was human error here,” Youngkin said last week when asked by a reporter whether Edwards shouldn’t have had a better background check.
Youngkin said, “We must not let this happen again.”
Edwards entered the police academy in July 2021, graduated in January and served just nine months before resigning in October. He was hired as a deputy sheriff of the Washington County, Virginia, sheriff’s office on November 16, nine days before the California killings.
California authorities say Edwards posed as a 17-year-old boy when communicating with the girl. She hung up the phone when asked to send nude photos.
On November 25, Edwards killed the girl’s mother and grandparents and burned down the Riverside home, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles.
Hours later, Edwards killed himself during a shootout with San Bernardino police. The girl was rescued and handed over to her relatives, who say she is receiving treatment for the trauma she suffered.