19-Year-Old Matthew Bernard Charged In Triple Homicide Of His Sister — Wife Of Baseball Pitcher Blake Bivens

Photo: AP / Instagram
Who Is Matthew Bernard? 19-Year-Old Charged With Triple Homicide Of Blake Bivens' Wife, Son, And Mother-In-Law

In the world of crime, there’s nothing more heinous than the murder of innocent people. Unfortunately, it happens more than we can imagine, and sometimes, it hits way too close to home. 

On Tuesday, August 27, Emily Bivens, 24, her mother, Joan Bernard, 62, and her one-year-old son, Cullen, were found dead in Keeling, Virginia. A neighbor called the police to report a body in the driveway of a home, later identified to be Joan. Upon entering the home, they found the bodies of Emily and Cullen. 

The family dog was also shot and killed, but Nelson Bernard, Emily’s father who was home at the time, was not. A criminal complaint also revealed that shell casings were found near all three bodies, as well as a sledgehammer in the garage that was covered in blood.

The deceased were later identified as the wife, mother-in-law, and son of Blake Bivens, a minor league baseball pitcher.

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Two hours after responding to the call, authorities issued a statement, warning residents to be on the lookout for Matthew Bernard. Who is Matthew Bernard? The young man, 19, is not only the alleged murderer, but the brother of Emily. 

Bernard fled into the nearby woods before reappearing, completely nude and near a church. 

He circled an officer and then approached another innocent man in the church parking lot, placing him in a chokehold. Eventually, he was tasered and maced, but took off again. This time, police officers apprehended him before he could escape to the woods.

He’s currently being treated at a local facility and was charged with three counts of first-degree murder.

Virginia State Police released a statement, saying: 

“During the course of the manhunt, the murder suspect came running out of the woods in an aggressive manner towards the media staging area. A trooper staged with the media initially confronted the naked individual and then pursued the man on foot.”

The murder suspect was not in possession of a weapon and was in obvious mental distress. State police are trained to first attempt to deescalate a situation with an individual who is displaying obvious mental distress. The trooper used the equipment at his disposal, which included pepper spray and a baton. Only state police tactical teams (the equivalent of a SWAT team) are equipped with Tasers. Troopers are also trained to maintain a safe, tactical distance from a suspect in order to prevent an individual from gaining access to the troopers’ weapons.

The murder suspect was taken to the ground with the assistance of a state police K9 and two other troopers. The murder suspect was taken into custody without further incident and turned over to the sheriff’s office. The incident is under review, as required when a use of force is involved in the apprehension of a subject.”

What could possibly drive him to kill his closest family members? Authorities have not yet released a motive, with Pittsylvania County Sheriff Mike Taylor commenting, “We won’t go into the whys because we don’t know yet. We are trying to figure that out ourselves.”

The Tampa Bay Rays, the team Bivens played for, issued a heartbreaking statement and canceled a scheduled double-header.

“Earlier today we learned that Blake Bivens, a pitcher with our Double-A affiliate, the Montgomery Biscuits, suffered a terrible family tragedy in southern Virginia. Our hearts are broken for Blake. We are grieving with him and will support him any way we can. We ask that everyone respect the privacy of the Bivens family and the Biscuits family during this extremely difficult time,” the statement read.

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There isn’t much information about Bernard that has been released to the public. However, police revealed that Bernard is a 2019 high school graduate of Dan River High School, and was attending Danville Community College, which was put on lockdown following the murders.

Jenn Stallard, Bernard’s cousin, told The Daily Mail that he was battling mental health issues and had reached a “breaking point.” “Unfortunately, he was suffering with mental illness and came to a breaking point. Matthew is my cousin and I will love him and be there for if I am ever able to because what the public has seen was not him at all, and his family, we would never imagine this could have happened,” she said.

As for the victims, they didn’t deserve any of this. 

Blake and Emily Bivens were high school sweethearts who became engaged in 2015. In 2016, they wed, and welcomed their son Cullen two years later in June 2018.

In January, Blake shared a very sweet post on Facebook, expressing his love for his wife and newborn son, and celebrating their third wedding anniversary. Emily was also described as a “lover of Jesus, wife, mama, [and] photographer.”

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Blake made a completely heart wrenching post on Instagram, sharing his grief and heartache with his friends and fans.

He wrote:

“Two days ago my heart was turned to ash. My life as I knew it is destroyed. The pain my family and I feel is unbearable and cannot be put into words. I shake and tremble at the thought of our future without them. 

Emily, my sweetheart, you are the best wife and mother this world has ever seen. You made me into the man I am today and you loved me with all of my flaws. You brought our precious baby boy into this world and made our family complete. Your love and kindness changed countless lives, including mine. 

My sweet little boy, dada loves you so much! I can’t breathe without you here. I finally understood what love was when you were born and I would have done anything for you. You have changed my life forever, you are my reason why. I long to hold the both of you again in heaven. I’m so glad you are with all your Great-grandmothers now, I know they are eating you up. This earth did not deserve either of you; you were just too wonderful to comprehend. 

Joan you were the best mother-in-law anyone could ask for. You loved your family more than anyone I’ve ever seen. You raised the most wonderful girl in the world. I’m so glad y’all are still together. You were the best Nana this world has ever seen and I will never forget you. 

Skip you are a wonderful father and grandfather. We will get through this together as a family. We will not let the devil win!”

Our thoughts are with this family in this unbearable tough time.

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Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.