Family of minor league baseball pitcher slain in Virginia

CHATHAM, Va (AP) — The brother-in-law of a minor league baseball pitcher killed the athlete’s wife, toddler son and mother-in-law before he was captured naked during a manhunt in a tiny southern Virginia community, authorities said on Wednesday.

Matthew Thomas Bernard, 18, was arrested after police warned of a dangerous gunman on the loose upon finding the bodies on Tuesday morning at a home in Keeling.

Bernard’s sister, one of the victims, was married to Blake Bivens, a 24-year-old pitcher for Alabama’s Montgomery Biscuits, a Double-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.

News of the slayings had prompted the Biscuits to cancel their scheduled doubleheader on Tuesday. “All we can do is kind of put our arms around (Bivens) as an organisation, him and his family, and do the best we can,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said on Wednesday.

Investigators are still trying to determine a motive, Pittsylvania County Sheriff Michael Taylor said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Taylor identified the dead as Bernard’s mother, 62-year-old Joan Bernard; his sister, 25-year-old Emily Bivens; and his nephew, 14-month-old Cullen Bivens.

During an intense manhunt on Tuesday morning involving up to 100 officers, schools were locked down and a tank and armoured vehicle were brought in to Keeling, an unincorporated community near the North Carolina border.