Newly released search warrants have revealed details about what police found at the scene of the triple homicide of Minor League Baseball player Blake Bivens’ mother-in-law, wife and young son. None of those details, however, have revealed a possible motive.
Joan Denise Jefferson Bernard, 62, Emily Bernard Bivens, 25, and Cullen Micah Bivens, 14 months, were found dead last month in a south Virginia town. Matthew Thomas Bernard, the brother of Bivens’ wife, was arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder in August, authorities said.
CNN affiliate WDBJ reports that Bernard’s arraignment has been delayed and is now scheduled for Thursday. The station reports he has been on suicide watch.
It is not clear if Bernard has an attorney.
The incident was initially reported to police after Bernard showed up at his aunt’s door, punched her in the shoulder and ran away, according to the search warrant obtained through CNN affiliate WSET.
Shortly after, the aunt heard gunshots coming from the victims’ home. When she went to the home, the warrant says, she found a body in the driveway and saw Bernard running from the house and into the woods behind it, carrying a rifle. She told police he was wearing a white T-shirt.
When officers arrived, they found that the woman in the driveway appeared to have been shot. They also found a woman and a child on a bed who appeared to be shot as well, according to the warrant. Officers also found a dog dead in the living room.
Bernard was taken into custody as he ran from a wooded area around 12:15 p.m., a spokesperson for Pittsylvania County, Virginia, said in a statement provided to CNN. Bernard was naked when he was taken into custody.
In the woods, officers said they found a rifle, a white T-shirt, blue sweatpants and black Nike brand sneakers, the warrant said.
Bernard’s uncle, Bryant Bernard, said the killings were unlike the churchgoing nephew he knew. He said something changed in Bernard over a short period of time.
“Last week he was having bad dreams, and that he’d seen demons around his bed… He said something to his mother that something’s going on and it’s gotta stop today and he left.”
Bernard was was involved in church and taught youth groups, Bryant Bernard said. He doesn’t know “what snapped” with his nephew.
Bivens, a pitcher with the class AA Montgomery Biscuits in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, posted a tribute to his family on his Instagram, saying his “heart was turned to ash” when they died.
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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! Thank you God for giving me the most wonderful family in the world! I’ve been blessed beyond belief. Thank you to all my family and friends who have reached out to me during this time of sorrow. Thank you @raysbaseball @biscuitbaseball for your support through everything. I am comforted by all the messages and well wishes. I’m not sure what is next for me, but I do know God has a plan even though I can’t see it.
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