Rays’ Blake Bivens found out about family’s murders on Facebook
Tampa Bay Rays minor leaguer Blake Bivens suffered an unspeakable personal tragedy when his wife, child and mother-in-law were murdered last August. The manner in which he first learned of the killings was truly unfortunate, making an unimaginable situation significantly worse.
Bivens was pitching for the Rays’ Double-A affiliate, the Montgomery Biscuits, at the time of the murders of 25-year-old Emily Bivens, 14-month-old Cullen Bivens and 62-year-old Joan Bernard. The team was in Chattanooga, Tenn., when Bivens was summoned to return home.
While waiting at the airport for his flight, Bivens perused social media to seek out what might have happened. That’s when he discovered that his wife Emily, son Cullen and mother-in-law Joan had been murdered.
“First headline I see is two females and a small child were gone,” Bivens shared during a service at The River Church in Danville, Va., on Sunday, per ESPN. “I immediately knew that was them. I found out my family was gone over a Facebook headline. I just immediately began to scream in the middle of the airport.”
Matthew Thomas Bernard, Bivens’ 19-year-old brother-in-law, was charged with three counts of first-degree homicide in the slayings that occurred in Keeling, Va.
“I think the hardest moment for me was when I got home and I walked in my son’s bedroom for the first time and realized I was never going to see him on this Earth again,” Bivens said. “That was the worst moment in my life. Nothing ever will come to being, to feeling the way I felt at that moment. Then again, I know I will see him again one day, and it won’t be long.”
Bivens relied and continues to lean upon his deep Christian faith to get through the unspeakable tragedy, saying the Bible verse John 16:33 had a profound impact upon him.
The pitcher played in Australia since the murders and was preparing for spring training when the coronavirus pandemic struck. The impact of learning of murders in such a cold, impersonal manner, however, understandably continues to haunt him.
“It’s unbelievable how much I can vividly remember from the day,” Bivens said. “And it’s kind of unbelievable to see how far things have come from that day also.”