Feb 22, 2024

A Washington County sheriff and two detectives recently received a lawsuit filed against them. The attorney served them on behalf of the teen who lost her grandparents and mother to a former Virginia State Police Officer. According to the lawsuit, the Sheriff’s Office conducted a deliberately indifference background check on the former officer. Had they performed a proper check, they would have discovered a 2016 incident. 

The Officer’s Background

This incident is when the former officer attacked his father, leading to a mental health detention that removed his right to own and carry a gun. As a result, they hired the former officer. A month later, he used his badge and gun to gain access to the house of the teen and her relatives.

In late 2022, the man posed as a 17-year-old boy online while still a Virginia State Police Officer. Later, the public called him the “catfishing cop.” This sentiment deepened as his relationship with a 15-year-old girl came to light. According to the case, he sent gift cards and jewelry to the teenager. He also paid for food and grocery deliveries for the girl.

The two also sent text messages and exchanged voice recordings. However, the teenager did not tell her parents about the relationship. Shortly after Halloween, she ended the relationship because the officer requested nude photos of herself. This rejection led the officer to threaten suicide via email.

The Incident

On November 16, 2022, the former Virginia State Police Officer started training to become a sheriff’s patrol deputy. On November 25, the teenager, her mother, and her sister went shopping. Before going out, the teenager’s grandmother called. She needed to speak with the girl’s mother about something serious. 

She also called the teen’s aunt, claiming a detective asked about some allegedly lewd photos sent by the teen. However, the detective was the former Virginia State Police Officer who dated the teenager. He assured the aunt that the grandmother was just distraught.

After receiving the grandmother’s call, the teen’s mother went to the house and requested that she stay in the car. The teenager eventually entered the house only to find her grandmother, grandfather, and mother dead. The former officer caught her shortly after and forced her into his car.

Allegedly, he intended to kidnap her from California to Virginia. Luckily, the San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies located him. They engaged in a shoot-out before the former Virginia State Police Officer ended himself. According to the lawsuit, the former officer discussed the law enforcement background check process. He allegedly told the teen that the agencies needed to run better checks before he died.

Information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only and should not constitute as legal advice. We recommend you contact your own legal counsel for any questions regarding your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.