By now we’d be surprised if you hadn’t heard this story… but one detail seems to have fallen through the cracks.

To catch anyone up who hasn’t heard the shocking tale already, here’s what authorities put together in the aftermath. A former state trooper named Austin Lee Edwards was catfishing an underage girl, getting closer and closer to the 15-year-old on the internet by posing as a teen himself. Eventually the 28-year-old got the young woman’s address — whether she gave it to him or he found it some other way has yet to be revealed. But he used that info to drive across the country from his home in Virginia to Riverside, California so he could meet her in person.

It’s unclear if Edwards’ intentions were always violent, but that’s how it ended up. He tied up and gagged her mother, Brooke Winek, and her grandparents, Mark and Sheri Winek, before killing them and setting their house on fire. Then he took off with the teen. Thankfully a few hours later someone noticed a young girl apparently in distress with an older man and called the police. Edwards reportedly started a shootout with cops when approached and was killed. The poor girl was reportedly unharmed physically — though her life has been forever destroyed by the online dalliance.

OK, so that’s the story we already knew. What we’re now hearing is that this former state trooper was still in law enforcement after all.

The impression many outlets gave early on was that he had formerly been employed as a police officer. But according to KTLA, Edwards had actually just been hired by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office! While his time as a state trooper was over, he had just been hired on as a deputy on November 16 — that’s just NINE DAYS before the killings. We’d guess no more than a week before he started his cross-country drive.

This wasn’t some washout who couldn’t hack it as a cop. This was a cop who did this.

One might wonder how the hell a guy capable of doing this could be allowed to join the force. Well, as it turns out they had no idea what kind of man this was they were hiring. Zero. Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller told the outlet Edwards passed all “physical, psychological and written testing, as well as a lie-detector test.”

How disturbing is that? What are these tests if they can’t weed out would-be child molesters, murderers, and arsonists? They couldn’t tell this guy should be behind bars, not behind a badge.

Washington County Sheriff Blake Andis agreed this was a huge error, saying:

“It is shocking and sad to the entire law enforcement community that such an evil and wicked person could infiltrate law enforcement while concealing his true identity as a computer predator and murderer.”

The question is, was this guy Edwards some kind of genius, able to slip through undetected? Because it sure doesn’t seem like it based on his reckless rampage in California. It seems more like there’s just a huge problem with the way potential police officers are tested, doesn’t it?

See more on the unfolding case (below):

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