Bianca Devins was fatally stabbed in July 2019

By Robyn Merrett
February 10, 2020 10:23 PM
Bianca Devins
Bianca Devins
| Credit: Utica Police Department

Brandon Clark, the upstate New York man accused of fatally stabbing teen influencer Bianca Devins, has pleaded guilty to her horrific murder.

On Monday, Clark, 21, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Oneida County Court, Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara told local newspaper The Post-Standard.

McNamara did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Clark’s guilty plea comes after he previously pleaded not guilty, The Post-Standard and The New York Post reported.

Clark faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life.

The grisly incident unfolded on July 14 when Devins, a popular 17-year-old Tik Tok star was allegedly stabbed by Clark — whom she had recently met on Instagram.

Clark later shared images of her dead body on social media, Utica Police Department said.

Clark then placed a 911 call and then stabbed himself in the neck as officers moved in on him after he laid down atop her body, which was under on a green tarp on the ground outside of a parked SUV on a dead-end street in Utica, New York, police allege.

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE’s free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

As officers watched, Clark then pulled out a cell phone and “took self-photographs of himself laying across the deceased female,” police allege.

Authorities disarmed Clark and after a struggle took him into custody and to a hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery for “severe” injuries, according to Utica police.

In a statement released through a publicist, Devins’ family described her as “a talented artist, a loving sister, daughter, and cousin, and a wonderful young girl, taken from us all too soon. She is now looking down on us, as she joins her cat, Belle, in heaven. Bianca’s smile brightened our lives. She will always be remembered as our Princess.”

Bianca Devins
Bianca Devins
| Credit: Bianca Devins/Instagram

The tragedy fed the hashtag #RIPBianca and fueled online outrage about the images that showed up and were shared on Discord, Instagram and other social media platforms.

“I’m sorry Bianca,” read the caption that accompanied a since-deleted photograph of Devins’ body posted Sunday to Clark’s Instagram account, reported The New York Times

One day after the murder, Instagram had removed Clark’s account, but not before his profile was updated to read “10/06/1997 — 7/14/19. Just know that I feel no pain now.”

Police initially were alerted about 7:20 a.m. on July 14 by numerous calls to Oneida County dispatch “informing them that a male individual had posted to a social media site that he had killed his girlfriend, and was threatening to harm himself,” according to a news release from Utica police.

In his own 911 call, the male “was alluding [to] the fact that he was going to harm himself.”

RELATED: Teen Alabama Girl Is Beheaded After Watching Her Grandmother Get Fatally Stabbed

Police traced that call to the dead-end Poe Street that ends near a wooded area, where the first arriving officer saw the black SUV with the male lying on the ground beside it. The man began to stab himself in the neck with a knife as the officer approached, then got up and laid down across a green tarp “some distance away,” police said.

Investigators later learned the two had met two months earlier on Instagram, and developed a “personally intimate” relationship, spending time together and getting to know each others’ families.

On July 13, the pair drove together to a concert in New York City, leaving for the drive back to Utica sometime after 10 p.m. after “some sort of argument,” police said. Back in Utica in the early hours of Sunday, that argument escalated with the vehicle parked at the Poe Street location “until the male produced a large, black handled knife, and used this to inflict the injuries that caused [Devins’] death,” police allege.

Since her death, Devins’ stepmother Kaleigh Nicole and her sister Olivia spoke out, paying tribute to the late influencer.

“She was happy,” Nicole wrote on Facebook. “She had just graduated. She wanted to continue her schooling so that she could help people, like her, whom no one else wanted to help. She was so loved and it breaks out hearts not knowing if she ever realized just how loved she was.”

“I hate knowing you’re not going to ever come back home,” Olivia wrote on Instagram. “You were the best sister anyone could’ve asked for. Thank you for always being there for me. Thank you for being the best sister I could ever imagine.”

Clark will be sentenced in April 2020.