The suspect in a triple homicide in Keeling “was operating under religious motivation” on the day of the slayings, according to a recently filed Pittsylvania County Circuit Court document. Police investigators wrote about the religious aspect in a search warrant filed to pry from cellphones thought to belong to suspect Matthew Thomas Bernard, 18, any digital records that might reveal the impetus for the killings. Bernard faces first-degree murder and related firearms charges in the slayings of his mother, Joan Bernard, 62; his sister, Emily Bernard Bivens, 25; and her 14-month-old son, Cullen Bivens, on Aug. 27.

According to the search warrant, Jason Adkins, the youth pastor at Central Boulevard Church of God, where the family regularly attended, told investigators Bernard maintained on his cellphone an audio diary of “his thoughts, what he had seen in dreams, visions, and things that he had heard from God.”