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Family members of Tampa Bay Rays prospect Blake Bivens die in triple homicide, reports say

Rays Minor League Triple Slaying
Matthew Bernard puts his hands on a man as a state police officer attempts to take him into custody Tuesday in Keeling, Va. The wife, toddler son and mother-in-law of minor league baseball player Blake Bivens have been killed. Bernard, Bivens’ brother-in-law, has been charged with first-degree murder.
(Caleb Ayers / Danville Register & Bee via Associated Press)

The wife and young son of Tampa Bay Rays pitching prospect Blake Bivens were among those killed in a triple homicide Tuesday in rural Virginia, according to multiple media reports.

Matthew Bernard, 18, has been arrested and charged with the murder of his sister, nephew and mother. Pittsylvania County authorities have not released the victims’ names, but multiple media reports have identified them as Emily Bivens, 1-year-old Cullen Bivens and Joan Bernard.

The baseball families organization Our Baseball Life set up a GoFundMe page in memory of Emily Bivens, her son and mother, with proceeds set to go to Blake Bivens. In its first 13 hours, the fundraiser had raised more than $20,000, well beyond its stated goal of $1,000.

Blake Bivens was a fourth-round draft pick for the Rays in 2014. He currently pitches for the double-A Montgomery Biscuits and has a 4-0 record with a 3.95 ERA and one save in 57 innings pitched.

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Montgomery’s scheduled doubleheader against Chattanooga was canceled Tuesday “due to a tragic event within the Biscuits family,” the team tweeted.

Later in the day, the Biscuits tweeted their condolences to Bivens, whom they said had “suffered unimaginable loss.”

The Rays also tweeted a statement about the tragedy and added, “We’re with you, Blake.”

Police were dispatched to a Keeling, Va., house around 8 a.m. in response to a call from a neighbor about a possible shooting. They found a woman’s body in the driveway and the other two bodies inside the home. The family dog was also reportedly shot and killed.

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Bernard ended up leading dozens of officers on a manhunt, with Pittsylvania County Public Safety issuing a warning for citizens to be on the lookout for Bernard, whom they said was “armed with a rifle and considered very dangerous.”

At one point during the chase, a then-naked Bernard allegedly attempted to choke the groundskeeper at a local Baptist church. He was arrested at 12:15 p.m. and booked into a local jail. Police are unaware of any motive at this time.


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