"With the death of your child comes the most unimaginable and indescribable pain. A pain that time cannot heal and only seems to worsen."
-Kim Devins, Bianca's mother
It was the 13th of July 2019. A Saturday. Seventeen year old Bianca Devins went to a Nicole Dollanganger concert with two friends in New York City.
Early the next morning, on the 14th of July, police called to Bianca's family home in Utica, New York, United States. Bianca had two younger sisters, Olivia and Maddy, and Olivia opened the door to the police. When they asked her where Bianca was, she told them that she didn't know.
Their mother, Kim Devins, was home at the time and she told police that Bianca had not returned from the concert. Police explained that they were there to carry out a welfare check as they were afraid that something may have happened to Bianca. Kim was frantic with worry as she didn't know where Bianca was. They asked her to call Bianca. She did but the call went straight to voicemail. Police asked Kim how Bianca was when she left the house the night before and Kim told them that she was excited and looking forward to it as it was her first real concert. She graduated from high school two weeks beforehand so was celebrating and enjoying some free time before starting college. She was enrolled to study psychology. Bianca sent Kim a text message after the concert at around 10pm to let her know she was heading home and that was the last time she heard from her.
Police called to Bianca's house to carry out the welfare check as they had received multiple 911 calls in relation to a graphic image that was posted online that morning at 6.40am of what appeared to be a severely injured or dead woman and they believed it was Bianca. They needed to find her to establish if the image was just a fake image posted on the online platform Discord or if it was real and if it was the latter, they knew they needed to find her quickly.
A short while later, another 911 call was made. Twenty one year old Brandon Andrew Clark called 911. Brandon was with Bianca at the concert the night before:
DISPATCHER: 911. What is your emergency?
BRANDON CLARK: My name is Brandon. The victim is Bianca Michelle Devins. … I'm going to kill myself.
When police told Kim that Brandon called 911 and that he may have harmed Bianca, it seemed nonsensical to Kim as she knew Brandon. She met him a number of times. He was a Lyft driver, was always polite and they weren't worried when Bianca went anywhere with him. Bianca and Brandon met via Instagram in May 2019 and even though they dated briefly and the relationship didn't last, they remained friends. Brandon called to Bianca's house often and Kim took comfort that Bianca was going to the concert with Brandon that night. She thought she would be safe.
Brandon told police where they could find him. He posted more images of Bianca online with the message:
"I'm sorry Bianca."
Police found him, he was close to Bianca's house, around ten minutes away and he was at the end of a dead end road. Police saw his car parked first and then saw Brandon. He was armed with a knife and in the presence of the police, he slashed himself across the neck with the knife and posted a selfie to show his injuries online with the words:
"Ashes to ashes."
Police managed to get the knife from Brandon and he was taken to hospital as his injuries were severe. It was then that they found Bianca's body beneath a tarp. She had been stabbed to death and her throat was slashed. The images that were posted online were real.
Brandon Clark and Bianca Devins
Before the dreadful news had been relayed to Kim, her daughter Olivia saw the image that had been posted online of her sister's body and as a result all of Bianca's family saw the image of Bianca's body before they were officially notified of her death.
Brandon survived and was subsequently arrested and charged with murder. Despite the events that led up to the discovery of Bianca's body, Brandon indicated that he would be entering a plea of not guilty. The Defense were looking at using an Extreme Emotional Disturbance Defense.
Police had to establish what happened after Bianca left her home on the 13th of July. They discovered that she traveled with Brandon to the concert in New York and met up with another friend there called Alex. Bianca and Alex kissed at the concert and she sent Alex a text message after the concert to say that she was worried that Brandon saw them kissing. Bianca traveled back to Utica with Brandon in his car but Brandon drove to a dead end street instead of to Bianca's house.
Police believed that Bianca's death was the result of a premeditated attack and not some spur of the moment act. They discovered that Brandon was obsessed with Bianca. Bianca had an online presence and spent a lot of time on social media. Kim told police that Bianca was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and it affected her self image but after seeking help and treatment, she seemed to be happy and social media helped. She loved art and modeling and expressed herself online, from mainstream platforms like Instagram and Twitter to slightly darker ones like 4chan. Bianca had a number of male admirers. One such admirer was Brandon. Did Brandon stab Bianca in a fit of rage after he saw her kissing Alex or did he plan to kill her regardless of the events of that night?
Police spoke to Alex and he told them that it seemed like Brandon did not want him at the concert. Alex didn't go to Utica with Brandon and Bianca. The police investigation revealed that as Brandon drove back to Utica, he posted a dark image of a road on social media with the words:
"Here comes Hell. It's redemption, right?"
Police found a video of Bianca's murder. Brandon had placed his phone on the dashboard of his car and recorded the attack. The footage showed Bianca asleep in the back of Brandon's car. He took a knife from the back of the car and placed it at the right side of the car. The footage showed Brandon waking Bianca up. He asked her about the kiss she had with Alex and she told him that she was sorry but reminded him that they were not monogamous. He replied:
"well sorry is not enough."
Brandon struck Bianca and she told him that she would get out of the car if he didn't bring her home. At that point, Bianca was not aware that Brandon had a knife hidden beside his seat. He took the knife and stabbed her to death with it. Brandon then looked into the camera on his phone and shouted:
"Bianca, why did you make me do this."
He then used his phone to take photos of Bianca's body and posted them on social media.
Bianca Devins and her mother Kim Devins
While he seemed incensed that Bianca would not be in a committed relationship with him alone, which would support any Defense argument that he acted in the spur of the moment and that he had not planned to kill her, further investigation revealed that that was not the case.
Brandon went to the concert prepared. He had a knife, a razor and other sharp instruments in the car. Police found what they described as a check list on his Notes app of what he planned to do the day of the murder. The list included adding his date of date to his Instagram account. He also planned to post a quote from the Fight Club on his Instagram account:
“This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.”
That led them to believe that their suspicions were correct and that he planned to kill Bianca and it wasn't the result of him seeing her kiss Alex. His search history showed that he repeatedly searched Bianca's name and frequently looked at her social media platforms, opting to save multiple photos of her as he did so.
Brandon also searched for a number of different things online such as:
"how to choke someone out?"
"How do you hit the carotid artery to kill someone?"
Brandon spray painted "May you never forget me" at the location where he killed Bianca and Prosecutors discovered, after they googled it, that it was taken from a series of Japanese comic books called Punpun which were a collection of violent books. According to the police file, Brandon also had music playing at the location where Bianca was killed. The same song, "Test Drive" by Joji was played over and over again. The song is about a person who is more invested in the relationship than somebody else.
Brandon's Trial was due to begin early 2020 but before it began, he changed his plea to guilty. Brandon told the Court:
"I know that sorry is not enough, I know it won't take back what I did."
Despite saying that he wanted to spare Bianca's family the agony of sitting through a Trial and having to hear all the details in Court, Brandon asked to change his plea just five months later. He wanted to plead not guilty instead and the Court had to determine whether he could do so before he was sentenced. Brandon told the Court that his lawyer pressured him into pleading guilty but his lawyer testified and outlined the number of visits he made to prison to speak to Brandon and that he had in fact urged him to go to Trial in the first place.
Part of Brandon's change of mind may have come from the unexpected support he received from some members of the public known as incels. According to the Oxford Dictionary, an incel is:
"a member of an online community of young men who consider themselves unable to attract women sexually, typically associated with views that are hostile towards women and men who are sexually active."
Incels are individuals who have not had any sort of sexual activity for a long period not by their own choice and as such, some develop a hatred of women. They try, and often fail, to win the attention of women who are referred to as Stacys, women like Bianca. Stacys are women who are attractive and who incels believe are unattainable. Brandon was praised for standing up for incels even though he wasn't one. They do not like rejection. Images of Bianca's body continued to be shared online and a number of people, who are often referred to as trolls, blamed her for her own murder. They believed that she was somehow responsible due to her online activity and flirting with followers.
The Judge in the case, Judge Dwyer, asked Brandon about his desire to withdraw his guilty plea:
“It seemed like in the beginning, you were focused on the family, the pain you caused them. And somewhere in the interim, you started to focus on yourself. That is what was confusing to everyone. You were more worried about yourself than Bianca.”
The Court determined that Brandon's guilty plea was valid and as such, he was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Brandon spoke at the hearing and said:
"I hate myself for what I did. I am so sorry that I put everyone through this. I'm so sorry that I put Bianca through this. I, I wish I could apologize to her and just apologize and apologize and take it back but."
Bianca's family are continuing to fight for justice. They hope that Bianca's Law will be passed. It is a bill that would hold social media companies accountable for any violent or graphic content that they allow to be posted and to remain on their platforms. It would make the spreading of the violent and graphic images a criminal offense and require social media platforms to develop software that would detect them before they are uploaded and shared. They would also have to establish a crisis department to respond in real time to victims' families.
Bianca's family have witnessed firsthand the horror and the unimaginable distress that posts of that kind cause at a time when they already have to endure their darkest days. The photos of Bianca's body were shared on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, 4chan and Discord. Her mother Kim asked all of the social media platforms to remove the photos but it was a lengthy process and some stayed online for up to two weeks.
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"The criminal justice system will take a hard look at what happened to Matthew Eappen. It is up to the rest of us to take an even harder look at who is minding our children."
- Eileen McNamara, the Boston Globe
"The effects of abuse are devastating and far reaching. Domestic violence speaks many languages, has many colors and lives in many different communities."
- Sandra Pupatello