Virginia State Police Background Check Missed Red Flags Before Hiring Trooper That Killed California Teen’s Family

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Virginia State Police Background Check Missed Red Flags Before Hiring Trooper That Killed California Teen’s Family
January 20, 2023

The Virginia State Police hired an individual who sexually extorted and kidnapped a fifteen-year-old female a year later. Unfortunately, this individual also killed three of the female’s family members in California. This tragedy occurred because the background investigator who checked the potential trooper’s background did not review his mental health history.

As a result, the background check obtained by the Virginia Police Department failed to reveal the red flags. This failure allowed the department to hire this individual, which led to the tragedy mentioned above. In addition, the investigator conducting the background search used an incorrect search code. The correct search code would have disqualified the applicant from the job.

The superintendent of the Virginia State Police wrote a letter to the state’s inspector general. In it, the superintendent revealed that the applicant involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric facility. Furthermore, hiring this individual happened due to human error, and believed it to be an isolated incident.

Allegedly, the individual killed three relatives of the fifteen-year-old girl he “catfished” online, posing as a seventeen-year-old boy. This type of deception is called “catfishing.” She stopped responding when asked for nude photos.

The individual allegedly killed the girl’s grandparents and mother on November 25 before setting their home on fire. He located the house in Riverside, California, approximately fifty miles from Los Angeles.

Later that day, he participated in a shootout with San Bernardino sheriff’s deputies before committing suicide. Thankfully, the girl survived. As a result of his actions, Riverside detectives will continue investigating why he drove to California and if he planned the killings ahead of time.

The Virginia State Police stated that the background screening revealed no red flags. However, during a pre-polygraph interview, the individual revealed the time he spent in a psychiatric facility in 2016 due to his threats to kill his father and himself. At the time, a judge banned him from purchasing, possessing, or transporting firearms. The Virginia State Police superintendent commented that this incident would not necessarily disqualify the individual from employment and provided a chance for the person to explain the incident.

Unfortunately, the background investigator used the wrong database and search code when conducting the investigation. Had they used the correct database, which had information about the ban on firearms, the investigator would have found the mental health order. Revealing the mental health order would have disqualified the applicant from employment with the Virginia State Police. After this incident, the Virginia State Police changed its background investigation policies, employment policies, and training. 

This incident shows how important it is to partner with a background check company you can trust. The right company will conduct a thorough investigation of all applicants.

Pre-employ makes background checks easy and reliable. Speak with a compliance expert today.