Graphic images of the gruesome slaying of 17-year-old Bianca Devins flooded Instagram, Twitter, 4Chan, and the gaming website Discord yesterday.
The social media platforms and forums were unable to stop the images from being posted, and they struggled to remove the images which continued to be shared online for hours after they first appeared.
Bianca, from Utica, NY., used the Instagram handle @escty which had a modest following. She also reportedly frequented 4Chan and Discord.
The suspected killer is Brandon Andrew Clark, 21, from Bridgeport, NY, about an hour’s drive from Utica. Clark is alleged to have posted graphic photos to his Instagram story showing the victim sitting in a vehicle with her neck slit.
He also is said to have posted a photo on the gaming website Discord with the chilling caption, “Sorry f***ers, you’re gonna have to find someone else to orbit.” “Orbiting” is a reference to someone lurking on someone else’s social media accounts.
He then is said to have posted multiple videos to his Instagram story. One of the videos — captioned “Here comes hell. It’s redemption, right?” — shows the view from a car as it drives down a dark road.
What actually happened?
There are conflicting accounts of what led to the grisly murder. According to Utica Police Department, Clark and Devin attended a concert together Saturday night in NYC and he drove her back home to Utica.
The exact nature of their relationship is also disputed. UPD’s Lt. Brian Coromato said investigators believe they had a relationship. According to the police account, their relationship began on Instagram about two months ago and they have even met each others’ families.
But some claimed on social media that Bianca was not dating Clark and that he stalked her on Instagram before tracking her to the concert. He then killed her after she rejected his sexual advances.
A third account claims that the two knew each other well but Devin maintained a platonic relationship with Clark. And that on the night Clark allegedly murdered her, he had agreed to drive her home from the concert they both attended.
Clark reportedly drove her back to Utica at around 10 p.m. According to the police, an argument broke out between them in the car which led to Clark using a knife to stab Bianca to death.
Rolling Stone reported that Bianca revealed in private messages she shared with a friend that Clark was angry that she held hands with another male and kissed him. Her last message was reportedly sent at about 5:47 a.m. and Devin reportedly posted the first images to Discord at 6:40 a.m.
Some people who saw the grisly photos Clark uploaded to Instagram, 4Chan, and Discord, called Utica police at about 7:20 am. Police arrived at the scene of the murder on Poe Street in Utica shortly afterward.
Some of those who first saw the photos thought they might be fake but police later confirmed that all three photos that circulated on Discord, 4Chan, Instagram, and Twitter were authentic.
Clark also reportedly called the police to make self-incriminating statements. He is said to have given police directions to his location and threatened to kill himself.
When the first police officer got to the murder scene and tried to approach the killer, he reportedly started stabbing himself in the neck. But other officers arrived and he was disarmed after a brief struggle. He was then taken to the hospital in a critical condition.
The killer underwent emergency surgery and his condition was later described as serious but stable, according to police sources.
Bianca was already dead by the time the officers arrived at the scene.
Police have reportedly charged Clark with second-degree murder in the death of Bianca.
Confirmed—Utica police indentify East Utica homicide victim is 17-year-old Bianca Devins of Utica. Her alleged killer is 21-year-old Brandon Andrew Clark of Bridgeport. Police say the two met on social media, and had a relationship. Investigation ongoing #WUTR #WFXV pic.twitter.com/pVZhTdodEP
— Ben Dennis (@broadcastben_) July 15, 2019
Social media platforms were slow to remove the images
The social media platforms Instagram, 4Chan, and Discord, have come under criticism for being slow to remove images after they were uploaded.
The delay in removing the images allowed several people to copy them for distribution across social media platforms and online discussion forums.
honestly it's a bunch of bullshit how instagram is so quick to remove a titty pic but won't remove the gruesome photos. get your shit together. #ripbianca
— hayley (@loonamune) July 15, 2019
But maybe in retrospect there were signs of something really wrong happening. The sickening images of Bianca continue to be disseminated over various forums and 4chan and I suppose now it's just a case of waiting for the police reports to understand what really happened here. pic.twitter.com/cxWLjFGoBY
— Elfy Scott (@elfy_scott) July 15, 2019
Viewers on a 4Chan thread reportedly posted joking comments while others blamed the victim for her death. The images were also widely shared on Instagram and some created accounts specifically to share the images in exchange for likes, according to Rolling Stone.
“It’s just online! Women should ignore the abuse,” they say.
Well, it’s not online anymore. A 17-year-old girl was stalked through Discord and murdered by an man. He posted pictures of this horror to Instagram.
— Brianna Wu (@BriannaWu) July 15, 2019
I usually share with my readers the quotes, screenshots, etc, of what I'm citing. For this story, I chose not to make that stuff public.
It's important to document this behavior happening in these communities, but the stuff is sickening and I can't justify it sharing it.
— Jared Holt (@jaredlholt) July 15, 2019
Utica Police Department said they reached out to various online platforms and asked them to take down the images. Instagram also said that they have disabled Clark’s Instagram @yesjuliet account for violating their policy.
“We have also taken steps to prevent others from re-uploading the content posted to that account to Instagram,” Instagram stated.