CRIME

Baseball Pitcher Learned On Facebook That Wife And Child Were Slain

Blake Bivens, a Tampa Bay Rays minor leaguer, said he "immediately began to scream in the middle of the airport'' when he saw the Facebook headline.

A minor league baseball pitcher whose wife, child and mother-in-law were shot to death last summer is speaking publicly for the first time, revealing the painful way he learned about their deaths.

Blake Bivens, a prospect with the Tampa Bay Rays organization, told a church group in Danville, Virginia, on Sunday that he was on the road with his team when he found out his wife Emily, their baby son Cullen, and his mother-in-law Joan Bernard, had been killed in Bernard’s Virginia home in August 2019.

Bivens said he had gotten a message to return home and was at the airport in Chattanooga, Tennessee, when he checked his social media.

“First headline I see is two females and a small child were gone,” Bivens told the congregation. “I immediately knew that was them. I found out my family was gone over a Facebook headline. I just immediately began to scream in the middle of the airport.”

Bivens said he remembers during the trip staring at the back of the seat in front of him, trying to get his mind around what he had read. 

“It’s almost kind of like, ‘This isn’t really happening.’ I was more in a state of shock. I would go through periods of shaking. Then I would start to lose it a little bit and break down and cry,” he said. “It was kind of like a circle. The plane rides just seemed like they took forever.”

The worst, he said, was when he got home and walked into his son’s bedroom and realized he’d never “see him on the Earth again.”

“That was the worst moment in my life. Nothing ever will come close to being, to feeling the way I felt at that moment,” he said. “Then again, I know I will see him again one day, and it won’t be long.”

Bivins’ brother-in-law, Matthew Bernard, was captured naked in Keeling, Virginia, and was charged with three counts of first-degree murder, according to WSET, the local ABC affiliate. Police recovered a hunting rifle and bloody sledgehammer they allege were used in the attack. Joan Bernard’s dog also was killed.

Matthew Bernard faces a competency review to determine whether he is mentally fit to stand trial, according to the New York Post. His cellphone reportedly contained evidence suggesting he thought he had experienced visions and heard messages from God.

You can see Bivens’ speaking in church below:

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