Virginia triple-murder suspect caught naked, unarmed at church

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Police pursue the suspect in a triple murder in Pittsylvania County Tuesday. The suspect was naked and unarmed when taken into custody. Photo courtesy of the Chatham Star-Tribune. (Photo used with permission.)

PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) – A man suspected of murdering three people in the Keeling area of Pittsylvania County is now in police custody and a lockdown of local schools has been lifted, according to County Sheriff Mike Taylor.

Police attempt to subdue the suspect in a triple murder in Pittsylvania County. Photo courtesy of the Chatham Star-Tribune newspaper. (Photo used with permission.)

Mathew Bernard, 19, was considered armed very dangerous when police issued an alert to the public Tuesday morning at 10 a.m.

By 12:18 p.m., Taylor said a suspect had been taken into custody though he never mentioned Bernard by name during a press conference.

According to Taylor, he was taken into custody less than a mile from the scene of the crime.

Bernard was naked and unarmed when he was captured after attacking a groundskeeper at Keeley Baptist Church.

The suspect attacked a groundskeeper at Keeley Baptist Church before being taken into custody. The Chatham Star-Tribune newspaper captured a picture of the attack. (Photo used with permission.)

A motive is not yet known for the murders and Taylor would not release names of the victims.

“We won’t go into the whys because we don’t know yet,” Taylor told reporters. “We are trying to figure that out ourselves.”

He said officers were on the scene about 10 to 12 minutes after the first call to 911. The first officer on the scene located the victims upon arrival and then called for backup.

In total, 100 officers responded from numerous agencies.

Taylor said three schools were placed on lockdown: Dan River Elementary School, Dan River Middle School, and Dan River High School.

Danville Community College was also placed on lockdown because Bernard is a student there. According to Danville Police, there was no threat related to this incident or to any location the suspects has ties to in Danville.

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