Arraignment for triple murder suspect canceled due to hospitalization

Matthew Bernard, 19, was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday morning

He is at a hospital for an undisclosed reason.

PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. – A man accused of killing his mother, sister and her toddler was not arraigned Thursday morning because he has been hospitalized.

According to the Pittsylvania County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Clerk's Office, Bernard was in the hospital as of 8:30 a.m. Thursday, which is when he was scheduled to be arraigned.

The clerk's office did not say what hospital he was taken to or why.

He was previously hospitalized Tuesday afternoon for treatment of cuts he received while beating his head against the inside of a sheriff's deputy's patrol car after being arrested.

According to Pittsylvania County Sheriff Mike Taylor, he was brought back to the Pittsylvania County Jail around 3 a.m. Wednesday.

He is also on suicide watch, Taylor said.

Bernard is accused of killing his mother, 62-year-old Joan Bernard; his sister, 25-year-old Emily Bivens; and his 14-month-old nephew, Cullen Bivens, who all lived at 1949 Keeling Drive. 

Credit: Bryant Bernard

The Sheriff's Office says a motive is unclear, but Matthew Bernard's uncle, Bryant Bernard, told 10 News there were signs leading up to this incident.

"He expressed to his mother last week that he was having bad dreams, and that he'd seen demons around his bed," Bryant Bernard said about his nephew.

Credit: Chatham Star-Tribune

"He woke up, he said something to his mother that something's going on and 'it has to stop today' and he left. They never saw him again until the point of where (his mom) got back home and that's where she confronted him."

Joan Bernard was found in the driveway, according to the Sheriff's Office.


About the Authors:

Samantha Smith joined WSLS 10’s award-winning digital team as a content producer in July 2018.