Catfish Murders: Slain Family's Loved Ones Plead With Parents to Be Aware of Children's Online Activity

Mychelle Blandin, the sister and daughter of the three victims, is pleading with fellow parents to educate themselves on their children’s internet activity, saying if someone had known about those online conversations, this tragedy may not have happened.

Loved ones of the slain grandparents, mother of a 15-year-old girl who was catfished by an older man on the other side of the country are pleading with fellow parents to educate themselves on their children’s internet activity, saying if someone had known about those online conversations, this tragedy may not have happened.

“Nobody could imagine this crime happening to my family, our family, especially it just being one day after Thanksgiving,” Mychelle Blandin, the sister and daughter of the three victims, told reporters Wednesday.

The family celebrated the holiday together, she said.

“Little did I know ... that would be the last time my husband and I would see my parents and my sister again," she said. "The next day, when we were out buying Christmas lights for our home, I received a phone call from my parents’ neighbor of 22 years. They were best friends. They looked out for each other. She called to tell us that we needed to get there as soon as we could because my parents' house was on fire."

Officer Austin Lee Edwards, who graduated from the Virginia State Police academy earlier this year, drove 2,500 miles to Riverside, California, to meet the teen he lured into an online relationship, police said. An alert neighbor saw the girl get into his red Kia while it was parked outside.

“We don’t know if there was some sort of disturbance but that led the homeowner to call the police,” Ryan Railsback, spokesman for the Riverside Police Department, tells Inside Edition. The license plate was found to be invalid.

Cops found the bodies of the girl’s grandparents and mother inside. Edwards took his own life hours later. The teen was not injured, and police said they do not believe she was complicit in either the killings or the fire.

“This event started with an inappropriate online romantic relationship between a child and a predator,” Blandin said.

The grief-stricken family is pleading with the public to be vigilant about the online activity of young people.

"Parents: Please, please know your child's online activity. Ask questions about what they are doing and whom they are talking to. Anybody can say they're someone else. And you could be in this situation,” she said.”

Blandin’s mother, Sharie Winek, was remembered as the family matriarch with a giving heart. Her father, Mark Winek, was a beloved high school coach. Her sister, Brooke Winek, was a devoted and loving single mom.

“Catfishing led to the deaths of the three most important people in my life: my dad, my mom and my sister," Blandin tearfully said. "Tell our story to help your parenting. Not out of fear, but out of example of something that did happen."

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