Matthew Bernard was arrested after leading police on a manhunt while naked

By Rachel DeSantis
August 28, 2019 10:39 AM
Blake Bivens, with wife Emily, and son Cullen
Facebook

The wife, son and mother-in-law of minor league baseball pitcher Blake Bivens were killed Tuesday, allegedly by Bivens’ teen brother-in-law, who led police on a chase while he was naked before being arrested.

Emily Bivens, her 1-year-old son Cullen and her mother were found dead at a home in Keeling, Va., after a neighbor called police to report the body of a female victim in the driveway of the home around 8 a.m., according to local ABC affiliate WSET and ESPN.

About two hours later, Pittsylvania County Public Safety issued a warning to residents urging them to be on the lookout for Emily’s brother, Matthew Bernard, whose age has been reported by outlets as both 18 and 19.

Bernard was described as “very dangerous” and was said to be armed with a rifle, according to a statement shared to Facebook.

He had escaped into the woods, sending several local schools into lockdown, before emerging, completely nude, near a church, according to video captured by WSET.

The footage appears to show Bernard circle an officer multiple times before approaching a man in the church parking lot, reportedly the church’s caretaker, and placing him in a chokehold. He eventually releases his grip after an officer approaches with a Taser and mace, and takes off once again.

The video then appears to show Bernard run toward a group of officers who finally apprehend him as he tries to run into the woods once again.

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Additional footage shows Bernard appearing to run toward one of the outlet’s reporters.

Bernard was charged with three counts of first-degree murder, according to the Chatham Star-Tribune. He is reportedly being treated at a local medical facility.

Matthew Bernard
Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office

Police did not release the names of the victims, and have not yet released a motive, ESPN reports.

It was not immediately clear if Bernard has retained a lawyer who could comment on his behalf.

The Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment.

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Bivens, 24, is a pitcher in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, and currently plays for the team’s Double-A affiliate, the Montgomery Biscuits, in Alabama.

The Biscuits canceled a doubleheader scheduled for Tuesday night in the wake of the tragedy.

“Earlier today, we learned that one of our players, Blake Bivens, suffered unimaginable loss. First and foremost, the Biscuits thoughts and prayers are with Blake and all those who have been impacted by this tragedy,” CEO and managing owner Lou DiBella said in a statement. “We appreciate the outpouring of support and concern, but ask that you respect the privacy of the family during this difficult time.”

Blake Bivens
Steve Roberts/CSM/Shutterstock

The Tampa Bay Rays also offered their support, writing in a statement: “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.”

Blake and Emily were married in January 2016, and welcomed son Cullen Micah in June 2018, according to their Facebook pages.

Blake previously shared a sweet message to Emily, who described herself as a “lover of Jesus, wife, mama, [and] photographer,” to mark their third wedding anniversary this year.

“I can go on for days about how much you have changed me for the better. However, there’s one thing you can’t change and that’s how much I love you and how wonderful you are to me! I love you with all my heart!” he wrote. “Happy anniversary baby your [sic] the greatest wife and baby momma anyone can ask for!”

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