Emily and Cullen Bivens, the wife and son of Tampa Bay Rays pitching prospect Blake Bivens, were among three people shot and killed in a triple homicide on Tuesday, along with Emily’s mother. 19-year-old Matthew Bernard is in custody; he is suspected of killing his sister, mother, and nephew.
Bernard was taken into custody after he was found running naked through Keeling, Virginia, a few hours after the murders took place. In addition to the deaths of 24-year-old Emily and one-year-old Cullen, Emily and Matthew’s mother, 62-year-old mother, Joan Bernard, was the third victim in the slaying. The family dog was also shot and killed, authorities say.
Authorities found one adult woman dead in the driveway, and the two other victims inside of Emily’s Pittsylvania, Virginia home on Tuesday. Police have not yet confirmed how any of the victims died.
Here’s what you need to know:
Cullen Bivens Was One Year Old; Blake & Emily Were Married in 2016
Blake Bevin’s Instagram shows the story of a young family at the time of Emily and Cullen’s premature deaths. Emily and Blake were married in 2016; they had baby Cullen in June, 2018.
Though Emily’s Instagram account was private, her bio reflected many of the aspects of her life that she believed to be most important: “Follower of Jesus | Blake’s wife and Cullen’s mama…Amazed by His grace”
Bivens’ entire account seems to be a tribute to his life with his wife. There are photos of their wedding, of their first sonogram for baby Cullen, and of baby Cullen when he was just a few days old. Bivens has not yet given a public statement about the tragic loss of his wife and baby son, but already people are flooding his Instagram with words of sympathy and compassion.
“Prayers to you,” one user wrote in the comments section of one of Bivens’ photos of his wife.
“So sorry for your loss?,” another wrote in the comments section for a picture of Bivens’ baby.
On Twitter, a former broadcaster for a baseball team that Bivens used to play for paid tribute to the unimaginable loss. He wrote, “In 2017, I was the broadcaster for the @BGHotRods. Blake Bivens was a pitcher on that team. Throughout the year, I was in awe of how mature Bivens was for that level. He was the only one married on the team, with Emily by his side all summer at the park. Prayers to you, Blake.”
A GoFundMe has already been created by Our Baseball Life in honor of Emily and Cullen Bivens, with the proceeds raised for Blake. The caption for the GoFundMe reads in part,
We are devastated by the loss of our friend and fellow baseball wife, Emily had an incredible heart for the Lord and shared His light to many through her writings in Baseball Chapel. She deeply loved this community of baseball women and was a comforting, kind soul to all who knew her. Our hearts are with her husband Blake and her family during this unimaginable time.
Emily’s Facebook shows that she was a strong believer of an infant’s right to live, and was a pro-life advoate. It also showcases a number of photos of she, her husband, and her young son.
Her Facebook also shows that she and Bivens were together for at least as early as 2014. One profile picture shows Emily standing alongside Bivens in a cap and gown. Though her Facebook offers little personal information, Bivens’ reveals that he grew up in Danville, Virginia, and attended George Washington High School.
In January, Bivens wrote a touching post of gratitude to his wife:
A lot has changed over the past3 years of our marriage. We’ve both became better people and spouses, also we have learned to work and put each other’s feelings first. 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 ! Happy Anniversary baby your the greatest wife and baby momma anyone can ask for! I love you Emily Bivens
Emily wrote a post for the blog Baseball Chapel earlier this summer in July, one that argued that one’s “best days” can often come after their “worst days.” She mentioned an anecdote about her husband’s baseball career to drive the point home.
Sometimes your best days come after your worst. In one particularly discouraging time, I was waiting to hear the results of a game. When I got the call, there had just been a rainstorm outside, but the clouds were clearing and the world seemed even more vibrant than before. The grass looked greener, the sun seemed to shine brighter, and everything had that beauty that comes after a storm. I remember noticing this for a brief moment right before the phone rang. It was Blake, telling me that the game had gone amazingly. He had dominated on the mound.
Only the day before, he had been frustrated and confused, and now he was victorious and hopeful.
It makes me think of all of the storms we couldn’t see the other side of at the time: When Blake was injured in high school at what seemed like the worst time, but when drafting day came, he was healthy and ready for his career in professional baseball to begin. When we thought that we were going to have to move our wedding because of a few remaining college courses, but we were wed in January and I was given a job that provided enough for us and allowed me to spend Spring Training with him.
Emily finished her post with some words of wisdom. “Whatever you are going through,” she wrote, “put your hand in the hand of the God Who can see over your mountains and past your storms because sometimes, on the other side of the storm, the beauty in His plan is even more evident than before.”
To learn more about the suspect in the triple homicide, you can read the upcoming article on Matthew Bernard.