Blake Bivens: The murder of a family destroyed my life


Blake Bivens, a Tampa Bay Rays secondary league player, said, "His heart was turned to ashes" when his wife, his one-year-old son and his mother-in-law were killed this week.

"My life, because I knew it was destroyed," wrote the 24-year-old pitcher on Thursday night in a post on Instagram, her first public statement since the murders. "The pain that my family and I feel is unbearable and can not be expressed in words. I tremble and tremble at the thought of our future without them.

Bivens flew into southern Virginia after learning of Tuesday's tragedy. He was accompanied by Morgan Ensberg, Montgomery's Cookie Manager.

"It was horrible," Ensberg said. "Blake is an incredibly strong man. He's an incredibly strong man, and he just had a ripping rotation, then he was shaking and then he just stared.

"I did not let it fall from my sight."

Bivens' 18-year-old brother was charged with first degree murder, which shocked his coaches, teammates and the community in which his family lived.

"You do not want it in any community, no family," said Pittsylvania County Sheriff Mike Taylor. "We are a small community. It concerns us all.

Bivens posted a series of photos of his wife Emily, his 14-month-old son Cullen, and his mother-in-law, Joan Bernard.

"Emily, darling, you're the best wife and mother the world has ever seen," he wrote. "You made me the man I am today and you loved me with all my faults. You brought our precious little boy into this world and made our family complete. Your love and kindness have changed countless lives, including mine.

Bivens wrote about Cullen: "I can not breathe without you here" and "I finally understood what love was like when you were born and I would have done everything for you."

The court documents released Thursday revealed new details in the murders but did not explain what could have led Matthew Bernard, 18, to kill his sister, nephew and mother.

In Montgomery, Biscuits – a subsidiary of the Tampa Bay Rays, double-A – painted "BIV" on the floor behind the plate before a match against Pensacola. They had to keep a moment of silence before the game, with another scheduled before the Rays' home game on Friday against the Cleveland Indians.

"Nobody thinks about baseball," Ensberg said.

Montgomery's pitching coach R.C. Lichtenstein remembers pre-game moments when Bivens approached to see his wife and detain Cullen.

Cookie launcher Ryan Thompson said Bivens' family was in his mind "all the time".

"His family was everything to him," said Thompson, deeply moved, who described Bivens as a close friend with a sense of "hilarious" humor.

"He never lets the game come into conflict with who he is as a human being. He's a great guy, and such a thing could not happen to a better human being, "Thompson said.

According to the complaint filed against Bernard, the unleashing of the teen began on Tuesday morning at a neighbor. Bernard hit the neighbor's arm and then escaped, police said.

Matthew Thomas Bernard fights with Keeling Baptist church gardener, Loyd Gauldin.

Matthew Thomas Bernard, who threw off his clothes, is fighting with Loyd Gauldin, guardian of the Keeling Baptist Church Garden, while a state police officer tries to place him in custody. in Keeling, Virginia on Tuesday.

(Associated Press)

The neighbor then heard gunshots at the nearby house, the police said. The neighbor drove home and found a woman's body in the driveway. Inside, she found the other two bodies.

Officers found two gunshot wounded in the head and rifle shell casings near the three bodies.

A rifle was found in a wooded area behind the house and a mass with blood was found in the garage, according to the court documents.

The criminal complaint offered no motive for the murders and the authorities declined to comment.

After the discovery of the bodies, a manhunt brought up to 100 officers to Keeling, a small community located near the North Carolina border.

About four hours later, Bernard came out naked from the woods, passing in front of a television camera to go to the parking lot of a church, where he had been recorded trying to smother a janitor from l & # 39; church.

An officer used a pepper spray and hit Bernard with a baton before he was captured, officials said.

Bernard hit his head against the cage in a police vehicle after his arrest and was taken to the hospital for treatment, the police said. He was released from the hospital and taken to prison on Thursday, where he was held without bail and monitored for suicide, police said.

A "celebration of life" service for murdered family members is scheduled for Saturday.

A vigil was held at the River Church in Danville, Virginia on Wednesday night. Senior Pastor Jackie Poe led those present in prayer for the Bivens and Bernard families.

Avery Stevens, pastor of the Keeling Baptist Church, said he was in his office where he also worked as an insurance agent when he saw television coverage of Bernard's capture near his church.

"It's a small rural community, mostly quiet, like most small rural communities. But the fact is it can happen anywhere and just at the door, "he said.

"Pray for the family," he said. "Pray for the community. Pray for healing. "

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