A US baseball star’s wife, young son and mother-in-law have allegedly been killed by a teenage relative who then went on a naked rampage.
Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Bivens’ wife Emily, son Cullen, Emily’s mum and their dog were found dead at their home in rural Virginia, US, reports The Sun.
His wife’s brother Matthew Bernard, 18, was arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder yesterday.
After the killings, Bernard is understood to have stripped naked and gone on the run before allegedly attacking a groundskeeper at a local church.
Dramatic photos appear to show Bernard sprinting naked across fields and trying to strangle the staff member at Keeling Baptist Church.
Police reportedly caught up with him and pepper sprayed him, although this proved ineffective.
They then beat him with batons and arrested him, according to news station, WSLS.
A family spokesman reportedly told the Daily Mail that Bernard had been struggling with mental illness and “came to a breaking point”.
Bernard’s uncle, Bryant Bernard, spoke to local news station WSLS following his nephew’s capture.
“In my wildest dreams, I never could have imagined it. Not him. Of all the people in this world. I never could have imagined it,” Bryant Bernard said.
The uncle also revealed Bernard attended a local community college and regularly attended church.
The college was placed on lockdown during the hour-long search for Bernard in the wake of the killings.
“This 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,” the murder suspect’s uncle said.
Police were alerted to the triple killing when an emergency call operator reported that someone had been shot at the home in Pittsylvania County at around 8am (10pm AEST).
When police arrived at the scene, they found a woman dead in the driveway of the home.
After entering the home, police discovered the bodies of a second woman and a child.
Bivens, who is attached to Major League Baseball (MLB) side the Tampa Bay Rays, has been playing minor league baseball for the Montgomery Biscuits, in Alabama.
The Biscuits postponed their game against the Chattanooga Lookouts as a mark of respect.
A spokesman for the Tampa Bay Rays said: “Earlier today we learned that Blake Bivens … suffered a terrible family tragedy in southern Virginia.
“Our hearts are broken for Blake. We are grieving with him and will support him any way we can.”
A Minor League Baseball statement said: “Our thoughts & prayers are with the family, friends and teammates of Blake Bivens in the wake of a terrible family tragedy, as well as the entire Rays organisation, during this very difficult time.”