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Triple murder suspect on suicide watch, plus other takeaways from press conference

Sheriff Taylor addressed the media Wednesday at 4 p.m.

PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. – A day after three people were murdered in Pittsylvania County, a suspect is in custody and on suicide watch, but many questions remain.

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.

At 4 p.m., the Pittsylvania County Sheriff's Office gave an update regarding the triple murder and about Matthew Bernard, who 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.

"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.

"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.


Sheriff Mike Taylor said he is not aware of any previous calls to this home.

The Sheriff's Office is continuing to investigate this case, including the scene.

Matthew Bernard is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony.

He allegedly ran naked past the media staging area on Tuesday, evading police and choking a man standing nearby. He was captured shortly after noon near his family's home where the murder happened.

When asked if Matthew Bernard's attack on the man in the teal shirt would warrant another charge, Taylor said those charges would be looked at, as well as a "whole host" of other charges.

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Matthew Bernard banged his head against the inside of the patrol car after being arrested. He was treated at the ER in Danville and then transported to Carilion Roanoke Memorial. He was then taken to jail around 3 a.m., according to Taylor.

He is on suicide watch but has not undergone a mental health evaluation, according to Taylor. 

The autopsies were completed Wednesday morning, according to Taylor.

Matthew Bernard is expected to be in court soon, but the date has not been confirmed.

Bernard's sister was married to Blake Bivens, a minor league pitcher in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.

Taylor commented on the community's support during this tragic time.

"You don't wish this on any community, any family," Sheriff Mike Taylor said. "We're a small community; it affects us all. So we appreciate those thoughts and prayers, I can assure you."

A GoFundMe campaign was set up for the family.

About the Authors:

Jeff Williamson arrived at WSLS 10 in March 2016.