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Tampa Bay Rays Prospect Pitcher Recalls Finding Out His Family Was Killed Browsing Facebook
Blake Bivens said he was alone at an airport when he discovered through Facebook that his wife, Emily Bernard Bivens, their son, Cullen Micah Bivens, and his mother-in-law, Joan Bernard, were dead.
A Tampa Bay Rays minor league baseball pitcher whose wife, son, and mother-in-law were all killed last fall is speaking out publicly about the tragic day, revealing he learned about their deaths through Facebook.
Blake Bivens’ wife, Emily Bernard Bivens, 24, their 14-month old son, Cullen Micah Bivens, and Emily’s mother, Joan Bernard, 62, were killed at their home in rural Virginia last August. Joan Bernard’s son and Emily's brother, Matthew Bernard, then 18, was arrested and subsequently charged with their murders. He was found incompetent to stand trial in November following a psychological evaluation, local outlet WSET reported last year.
During a Sunday church service at The River Church — located in Danville, Virginia — the 24-year-old pitcher gave insight into that horrific August day for the first time. He was out of town in Tennessee finishing up a series of games when the murders occurred and was in an airport when he came across a shocking headline in his Facebook feed.
“The first [post] I see is two females and a small child are gone, and I immediately knew that was them," Bivens revealed. “I found out my family was gone over a Facebook headline, and I just immediately began to scream in the airport.”
He was alone at the moment and strangers around him grew concerned. About a minute later his Tampa Bay Rays team manager called him and helped him get a flight back home. The manager accompanied him for support.
Bivens remembered shaking throughout the flight home as he stared at the seat in front of him.
“Then I would start to lose it a little bit and start to cry,” he recalled. “It was just kind of a circle and the plane ride seemed like it took forever.”
When he got home, he had several relatives to greet him. He said they hugged it out for a while.
“I look back and I’m extremely grateful for the people that were there at the time,” Bivens said. “It could have been a whole lot worse for me if I didn’t have anyone there.”
Still, he said it was horrific.
“I think the hardest moment for me was when I got home,” Bivens continued. “I walked in my son’s bedroom for the first time, and I realized I would never see him on this earth again. That was the worst moment of my life. Nothing will ever come close to feeling how I felt that day, and how I felt in that moment.”
The pitcher has credited his faith for helping him get through the ordeal.
“I think the greatest comfort for me, without a shadow of a doubt, has been knowing where my family is,” Bivens said during the church service. “I know they are in the arms of Jesus and waiting for me to be there with them.”
Bivens had posted on Instagram last year that his “heart was turned to ash” and his life as he knew it “destroyed” by the loss of his family. He wrote a tribute to his slain wife and son on Instagram on what would've been Emily’s 25th birthday in October.
"Your love and kindness has impacted so many people," he wrote to his wife.
While Matthew Bernard was deemed incompetent last fall to stand trial, the judge has stated he hopes treatment will eventually help him become stable enough to face a trial, WDBJ7 reported in January. A new competency review is scheduled for next week, WFXR reports.
Bivens pitched for the Montgomery Biscuits, a AA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, last season.