Matthew Bernard is the man accused of killing the family of Blake Bivens, a Double-A pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays affiliate, the Montgomery Biscuits.
Bernard, 19, allegedly murdered Blake Bivens’ 24-year-old wife Emily, infant son Cullen Micah Biven, and 62-year-old mother-in-law, Joan Bernard, on the morning of Tuesday, August 27, at their home on Keeling Drive in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.
Matthew is the brother-in-law of Blake Givens and the brother of his late wife Emily.
Just an awful tragedy: The wife and child of Blake Bivens, a Double-A pitcher in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, were among three people killed in rural Virginia on Tuesday, sources tell ESPN. Police have charged Bivens' wife's brother with first-degree homicide.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 28, 2019
A neighbor called the police after seeing the body of an adult woman on the driveway. When police officers from the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police arrived at the house at about 8 a.m., they found two other bodies, an adult and an infant, in the house, according to WSLS-TV.
They later found Matthew running naked in the street and in the wooded area nearby. After a brief foot chase, during which he attacked an elderly employee at a nearby church, police officers apprehended him, tackling Bernard after failing to stop him by macing and tasering.
Authorities have confirmed Matthew Bernard is the suspect in custody for a triple homicide in Pittsylvania County. He was apprehended after an hours long search, a foot chase, and a scuffle in which he allegedly attempted to choke a church groundskeeper. Photos courtesy Matt Bell pic.twitter.com/FW5E8y1SW1
— Brooke L. Williams (@WilliamsLBrooke) August 27, 2019
Mathew Bernard was arrested around midday and is now in police custody. He has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder, according to WSET.com.
The man who was choked by the triple homicide suspect told @IMcMillerNews he was scared for his life and called on God to help him.https://t.co/4OVjvg9kkQ pic.twitter.com/gqAOk23R1C
— ABC 13 News – WSET (@ABC13News) August 27, 2019
Bernard is believed to have shot the victims and the family’s dog, with a rifle. Police said investigations were ongoing as they try to figure out the circumstances and motive of the gruesome killings.
BREAKING: Heavy police presence on Keeling Drive in Pittsylvania County. Officials have weapons drawn. Working to get more info @ABC13News pic.twitter.com/yPau031IeR
— Kyle Wilcox (@KyleNews3LV) August 27, 2019
The Montgomery Biscuits and Tampa Bay Rays have canceled all games scheduled for Tuesday and issued statements on Twitter about the cancellation and in support of Blake Bivens.
Tonight's doubleheader has been cancelled. pic.twitter.com/QjhbQ0unPP
— Montgomery Biscuits (@BiscuitBaseball) August 27, 2019
We're with you, Blake. pic.twitter.com/gJqdUCIf7p
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 28, 2019
Who is Matthew Bernard?
Matthew Bernard is the brother of Blake Bivens’ wife Emily. He is 19 years old. His victims were his sister, her son, and his mother. Matthew’s father Nelson was reportedly in the house when the killings took place but he was not harmed.
“I feared for my life” this woman saw the suspect attack police and says the suspect went to school with her daughter at Dan River. pic.twitter.com/zkRlrBUgPz
— Itinease McMiller (@IMcMillerNews) August 27, 2019
Not much is known about Matthew except that he attended Dan River High School and graduated in 2019. He was attending Danville Community College in Virginia at the time of the incident.
The Daily Mail reports that Jenn Stallard, a cousin of Matthew’s, said the teenager had been struggling with mental illness and that he apparently finally reached a “breaking point.”
“Matthew was an amazing soul and person,” Stallard said, according to the Daily Mail. “Always smiled and loved his family to the fullest.”
“Unfortunately he was suffering with mental illness and came to a breaking point,” she added.
Matthew’s uncle, Bryant Bernard also revealed in an interview with WSLS-TV that he was an “all-round perfect kid.”
“In my wildest dreams, I never could have imagined it. Not him. Of all the people in this world. I never could have imagined it.” Byrant said, according to WSLS-TV.
“This boy’s a Christian. Went to church every Sunday, every Wednesday, every Sunday night. Taught youth groups,” he added.