Rays minor league pitcher says he learned of family’s murders through Facebook, using faith to cope with deaths

Tampa Bay Rays minor league pitcher Blake Bivens revealed Sunday he learned about his family’s murders through social media last year.

Bivens recalled the events surrounding the deaths last August of his 1-year-old son Culle, wife Emily and mother-in-law Joan Bernard in a Facebook Live chat with senior pastor Travis Gore of The River Church. Bivens said his faith has helped him cope with their deaths.

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“The only thing I really remember from the whole plane ride is I just went through periods. I just stared at the back of the seat the whole time, trying to get my mind to wrap around what I’m hearing,” Bivens said.

“It’s almost kind of like, `This isn’t really happening.’ I was more in a state of shock. I would go through periods of shaking,” he said. “Then I would start to lose it a little bit and break down and cry. It was kind of like a circle. The plane rides just seemed like they took forever.”

Bivens said he felt something was wrong on the morning of Aug. 28 when he didn’t receive a text from his wife upon waking up. His concern grew after being unable to reach her and then learned on Facebook his brother-in-law, Matthew Bernard, was being sought by police.

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“First headline I see is two females and a small child were gone. I immediately knew that was them,” Bivens said. “I found out my family was gone over a Facebook headline. I just immediately began to scream in the middle of the airport.”

Bivens said the trip home from Chattanooga, Tenn., to Keeling, Va., “could have been a lot worse for me” if he wasn’t accompanied by two members of his Double-A Montgomery team.

“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 feeling the way I felt at that moment.”

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Matthew Bernard, 19, was arrested and charged with three counts of murder and is awaiting trial.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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