Matthew Thomas Bernard, 18, choked a bystander before being apprehended by law enforcement officials Tuesday, Aug. 27 in Keeling. New information from a warrant obtained Friday indicates a cell phone may contain information about a possible motive. 

A search warrant obtained Friday, Sept. 13 from  the Pittsylvania County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office indicates a cell phone belonging to Matthew Thomas Bernard, 18, may contain information about a motive.

Bernard is charged with three counts of first degree murder after Joan Denise Jefferson Bernard, 62; Emily Bernard Bivens, 25; and Cullen Micah Bivens, 14 months old were all found dead at 1949 Keeling Drive Tuesday, Aug. 27.

According to the warrant, Virginia State Police investigator Matt Wade found a social media post that led police to believe Bernard’s phone may contain additional information about a possible motive. 

“Matthew Bernard was taken into custody on August 27, 2019. When he was apprehended, he was naked and not in possession of a telephone,” the warrant, signed by Pittsylvania County Investigator Dusty Sheppard, states. 

The warrant also states Matthew Bernard, ran to the home of Rachel Jefferson and punched her in the arm before running away around 7:30 a.m. on Aug. 27. 

Within a few minutes, she heard gunshots according to the warrant. 

Matthew Bernard’s cell phone was found in the yard by law enforcement and identified by his father, the warrant states. 

An additional warrant obtained Friday indicates the sheriff’s office recovered bullet fragments from the home. 

Matthew Bernard was arraigned Thursday, Sept. 12 in Pittsylvania County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. 

A preliminary hearing is set to be heard in Pittsylvania County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 9 a.m. for Matthew Bernard. 

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