Updated: Aug 29, 2019
On August 27th, 2019, around 1pm EDTmy husband called me in a panic.
Him: Are you alright!?! Where's Des!?!
Me: I'm fine. I'm at work. He's at your mom's. You alright?
Him: Good! I just got out of a meeting! Have you seen the news!?! Some crazy guy just killed his family not too far from your moms! You need to text your mom and see if she's ok. They're telling people to stay in their homes and be on lookout. Schools are on lock down!
Me: Hang up with him and text my Ma- "Some dude is shooting folks in your neck of the woods. You ok?"
Ma: Oh yeah! Sick bastard! He ain't comin' in here!
*The scene of a triple homicide: walking down a private road I grew up on, through the fields and farmland at the end, within 15-20 minutes (on foot of the cleared trails that we created with horses and ATVs)- I can see the walk clear as day in the back of my mind now, and it's been about 10 years since I've personally done so. This was the same path that I took the "few" times I snuck out to meet up with my pals. You even walk past a cabin belonging to the local hunt club on the way. Literally in my "backyard." Everyone involved was a neighbor, a friend... a friend of a friend or even family. This is how small towns work. We are heartbroken and shook to the core.*
8 a.m. EDT, Pittsylvania County, VA 911 Emergency received a call about a gun shot victim. Pittsylvania County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to the scene to find a woman dead in the driveway of the Keeling, VA residence.
Inside, Deputies found the bodies of another woman and child.
As investigations of the property ignited, around 12:15n EDT a young man emerged from the woods surrounding the property. He was running, screaming, chasing officers, and laughing...
He was also completely naked.
The young man, Matthew Thomas Bernard (18) was apprehended and now in custody after giving local law enforcement a good workout. NON-LETHAL measures such as being pepper sprayed, stun gunned and even whacked with a baton on his naked booty did NOT slow Bernard down, as he continued to run around in his "Birthday Suit," and even at one time, grabbing and choking one of his neighboring bystanders.
Over 100 Local and State Law Enforcement Officers were dispatched to the scene of the crime. One... Hun...Dred POLICE OFFICERS for ONE naked dude. (Let that sink in)
Said to be a well rounded young man, Matthew Bernard's friends and family speak highly of him. As the shock of the tragedy settles in the hearts and minds of my hometown, they are in total disbelief that someone of his caliber- a friendly, genuine guy- could ever commit such a heinous act.
"The boy's a Christian. Went to church every Sunday, every Wednesday, every Sunday night. Taught youth groups. Just an all-round perfect kid, in my opinion," Bryant Bernard, Matthew's uncle, told local authorities and reporters. He also adds that the only explanation he can come to is within the last couple of weeks, Matthew told his mother he was having bad dreams.
Local investigators are still searching into the motive behind this horrible, horrible tragedy that left a family torn apart. The names of the victims were recently released to the public of Matthew's Mom, Joan Bernard; his sister, Emily Bivens and 1 year old nephew, Cullen Bivens.
Matthew's brother- in- law, Blake Bivens is a minor league prospective pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays. They cancelled their game last night out of respect for their teammate and his personal losses- his mother-in-law, wife and child.
I'm not going to turn this article into any more of a presumed rant than what I probably already have. I'm not going to get heavy in using it as an example in my Pro Gun/ 2A Advocacy and give some story as to why those women should've had firearms nearby. Apparently, THERE WERE NO CLUES OR SUSPICIONS THAT BERNARD WAS A THREAT! By family, friends and the rest of the community, he was a typical young, life loving kid.
With that said, I want to highlight the issues at hand, though. We have a young man that was seen as a valuable asset to a community- who apparently was overcome by some horrible delusive thought process and in turn, took the lives of his own family: his mother, sister and small nephew.
G-d only knows the motive behind it all, and will allow it to unfold in the days ahead, as He sees fit.
The Pittsylvania County, VA Community and surrounding area(s) are stricken with grief and confusion because of this horrible event. Three innocent lives taken by another, who was once innocent himself.
After researching a bit more, I came across a beautiful article that Emily Bivens wrote for a website called Baseball Chapel, that helps connect baseball players with their family, friends and fans.
My heart hurts for Blake Bivens and the rest of his family.
Emily will be remembered in our community as a shining light of love and beauty. Her words above and from the many of those who knew her well, she resembled an angel on earth.
Many Prayers go up for the Bernard & Bivens Family.
May The Sweet Lord keep you and comfort you in His Love.
Rest In Peace Joan Bernard.