Last August, the family of Tampa Bay Rays prospect Blake Bivens, his 25-year-old wife Emily, 14-month-old son Cullen, and mother-in-law, 62-year-old Joan Bernard, were all murdered and his 18-year-old brother-in-law, Matthew Bernard, had been charged in the crime.
At that time, the 24-year-old relief pitcher for the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits was with his team in Chattanooga, Tennessee and was told that he was needed at home. As he was waiting for his plane, he did what everyone does, he decided to check out social media.
It was there, on Facebook, that he learned the world as he knew it had just been completely destroyed.
“First headline I see is two females and a small child were gone,” Bivens said at The River Church in Danville, Virginia, on Sunday. “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 Bernard, who faces three counts of first-degree homicide, ran through the neighborhood naked after allegedly committing the crimes, which also included killing the family dog, before being subdued by a police dog.
“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 told the congregation. “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.”
He also said that during the aftermath of the murders, his faith, and the Bible verse John 16:33 in particular, is what helped him carry on without his family.
“And when I read, ‘Take heart, for I have overcome the world,’ it changed, it completely flipped a switch in my heart,” said Bivens. “And from that moment on I knew that this was not going to beat me, this was not going to beat family. I was going to live in victory the rest of my life, and I was going to use this as a testimony to show what he has done for me he can also do for others.
“That moment for me was one of the biggest moments where I just knew God was with me, and the only thing I knew to do was just laugh in the enemy’s face, because he thought he had won. But all he’s done is awoken a sleeping giant and as long as I’m here on this earth, every day I wake up my goal is to pile-drive him right in the face every morning when I get up.”
Pittsylvania County police believe Bernard may have been motivated by some misguided religious beliefs.
He currently awaits the results of a competency review and determination hearing scheduled for next week to ascertain whether he is able to stand trial.
Hear Bivens tell his entire story in the video below, which, of course, was streamed live on Facebook on Sunday.