A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a teenage “influencer” was killed and photographs of her body were published on social media.
The body of Bianca Devins was found in Utica, New York, on Sunday after social media users who saw the pictures alerted police. One of the photos appeared alongside a message which read: “I’m sorry Bianca.”
Officers were searching for the 17-year-old when Brandon Clark, 21, called police to report what he had done.
After tracking the call, police found Clark stabbing himself in the neck, causing injuries that required hospital treatment. Devin’s body was found nearby under a tarpaulin.
Police say Devins and Clark met two months ago on Instagram and had embarked from a friendship to an intimate relationship. They had met each other’s families and on Saturday night attended a concert together in New York City, where they allegedly argued.
According to the authorities, who are holding Clark on a second-degree murder charge, Devins was killed with a large knife in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Lt Bryan Coromato said that after police located Clark stabbing himself, he lay down across Devin’s body and began taking selfies before he was taken into custody.
The matter is being investigated as a murder and an attempted suicide. Clark is listed in a critical but stable condition and is expected to survive.
The pictures of Devins’ body were also shared on 4chan and encrypted chat service Discord. One picture remained on Instagram for nearly 24 hours, according to Buzzfeed.
The news channels added that in the hours after the pictures were posted, users began flooding both Devins and Clark’s profiles, posting comments that they were hosting photographs of the body and asking people to follow them.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by this terrible situation,” a Discord spokesperson told HuffPost in a statement. “We are working closely with law enforcement to provide any assistance we can. In the meantime, our hearts go out to Bianca’s family and loved ones.”
Others claimed it was a stunt organised by the couple to gain more followers, though Utica police have confirmed to HuffPost the photographs are authentic.
Clark’s Instagram account was not disabled until Monday morning, with a company spokesman telling US media it had been done so for “violating our policies.”
The spokesman added that Instagram had “taken steps to prevent others from re-uploading the content posted to that account.”
Devins’ family said in a written statement that the teen was “a talented artist” and “a wonderful young girl, taken from us all too soon.”
“Bianca’s smile brightened our lives,” the family wrote. “She will always be remembered as our Princess.”
The family statement said Devins graduated from high school last month and looked forward to attending a community college in the fall.
Utica police said they are working to address the sharing of the images with various social media platforms.
The Utica City School District issued a statement saying they “share our deepest heartfelt condolences with her family and loved ones.”
Useful websites and helplines:
- Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
- Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
- The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0300 5000 927 (open Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on www.rethink.org.
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