Tampa Bay Rays Prospect Loses Son, Wife and Mother-in-Law in Tragic Slaying


Three family members of a minor league baseball player were found slain Tuesday — starting a four-hour manhunt that ended with the capture of the brother of one of the murdered women.

According to USA Today, the dead were the wife, mother-in-law and son of Blake Bivens, a pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays’ Double-A affiliate, the Montgomery Biscuits.

Bleacher Report identified the victims as Bivens’ wife, Emily, his 1-year-old son, Cullen, and his mother-in-law, Joan Bernard.

Their bodies were found about 8 a.m. after authorities in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, received a call that someone had been shot, according to WFLA. The county is in southern Virginia, bordering on North Carolina.

“When officers arrived on scene, they found a woman dead in the driveway of the home. After entering the residence, police discovered the bodies of a second woman and a child,” WFLA reported.

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Authorities immediately began searching for Matthew Bernard, Bivens’ brother-in-law, whose age has been reported as both 18 and 19.

He was found shortly after noon running naked near a church, according to WSET, an ABC affiliate in Lynchburg, Virginia.

The church is less than a mile from the scene of the killings, WFLA reported. Bernard has been charged with three counts of murder.

The Rays organization released a statement expressing sympathy at the tragedy.

“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,” the statement said.

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And they had plenty of supporters offering well wishes to the player.

According to WSET, a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the loss.

Bivens, 24, was selected by the Rays in the 2014 draft, according to Fox News.

He was a graduate of George Washington High School in Danville, Virginia, near where his family was killed, according to Fox.

CORRECTION, Aug. 29, 2019: When originally published, this article stated that Bivens was charged with three counts of murder. Matthew Bernard, Blake Bivens’ brother-in-law, was charged, not the bereaved. We corrected the article after an observant reader noticed our error. We apologize to Blake Bivens and his family for this careless error and for any further distress we may have caused during this tragic time. We also apologize to our readers for any confusion.

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Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro desk editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015.
Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015. Largely a product of Catholic schools, who discovered Ayn Rand in college, Joe is a lifelong newspaperman who learned enough about the trade to be skeptical of every word ever written. He was also lucky enough to have a job that didn't need a printing press to do it.