Man Charged with Murdering Pitcher’s Family May Have Had ‘Religious Motivations’

Pittsylvania County Sheriff Office via AP

Police investigators say that the man accused of murdering a minor league baseball player’s wife, child, and mother-in-law, may have had “religious motivations.”

Matthew Bernard was arrested in August and accused of murdering minor league ballplayer Blake Bivens’s family. The suspect, 18, is Bivens’s brother-in-law and the son of one of his victims, 62-year-old Joan Bernard. Blake Bernard is also accused of murdering Emily Bivens, 25, and her 14-month-old son.

Police discovered spent rifle shell casings near the bodies and a discarded rifle behind the home where the victims met their end. Bernard was found a mile away from the crime scene running naked down the street. He was taken into custody after a foot chase.

Investigators report that the suspect claimed a religious motive for the slayings, according to the Daily News.

During their investigation, police have discovered that the youth pastor at the Central Boulevard Church of God had found that the suspect had been recording a diary of his religious thoughts. Bernard kept recordings on his cellphone that contained details of “his thoughts, what he had seen in dreams, visions, and things that he heard from God.”

Keeling Police Officer Dusty Sheppard added that Bernard kept the recordings “in case it comes to pass.”

The pastor, Jason Adkins, said that Bernard never discussed with him exactly what his recordings contained nor what his religious interpretations of those things meant to him.

Matthew Bernard is being held by the state’s Behavioral Health and Developmental Services department awaiting a November 6 hearing on his mental competence.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.


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