On Tuesday, the wife, son, and mother-in-law of Rays pitching prospect Blake Bivens was killed in a triple murder: Joan Bernard, 62; her daughter and Bivens’s wife, Emily Bernard Bivens, 25; and Cullen Bivens, 14 months. Charged with three counts of first-degree murder is 18-year-old Matthew Bernard, Emily’s brother and Joan’s son.
Thursday night, Blake Bivens put out his first public statement since the murders, posting family photos of the three victims on his Instagram:
Bivens, a 2014 fourth-round draft pick, was on a road trip with the double-A Montgomery Biscuits when he received the unthinkable news.
“I’ll never forget his face. He was scared,” Biscuits manager Morgan Ensberg said Thursday during a news conference. “He was nervous. He didn’t know what was going on. He couldn’t get in touch with his family and so we knew something was obviously wrong.”
“We put him in a car to go to the airport and three minutes later we found out what happened. I hopped in the car and went to the airport with him.”
Ensberg and two Biscuits staffers flew with Bivens back to southern Virginia. “It was awful,” Ensberg said. “Blake is an incredibly strong man. He’s an incredibly strong man, and he went through just a rotation of tearing up, and then he would shake and then he would just stare. I didn’t let him out of my sight.”
Court documents unsealed Thursday offer new details of the triple homicide, including that the victims were killed with a rifle and a sledgehammer, though the documents do not hint at a motive.
According to the criminal complaint, Bernard’s rampage began at a neighbor’s house when he came to her home, punched her in the arm and then ran away.
The neighbor then heard multiple gunshots at the house next door, police said. The neighbor then drove to the house and encountered a body in the driveway.
An intense manhunt ensued, involving as many as 100 officers. Schools were locked down. A tank and an armored vehicle were brought in to Keeling, an unincorporated community near the North Carolina border.
Authorities said Bernard emerged naked from some woods hours later, running past TV cameras to a church parking lot, where he was recorded trying to choke a church caretaker.
An officer unleashed pepper spray and smacked Bernard with a baton before he was captured, officials said.
Bernard banged his head against the cage in a police vehicle after being taken into custody and was taken to a hospital for treatment, police said. He was released and was in jail Wednesday, where he was being kept on suicide watch, police said.
After canceling Tuesday’s doubleheader, the Biscuits held a moment of silence for Bivens and the victims before Thursday’s game, though Ensberg acknowledged that “nobody’s thinking about baseball.”