Expert: Violent images sent to victim’s family is “psychological terrorism”
[This story originally aired on September 18, 2021. It was updated on August 13, 2022.]
Bianca Devins, 17, was murdered by a friend in Utica, N.Y. The killer posted images of her lifeless body online, which went viral. Making matters worse, the images were sent to her family.
“Social media was a huge part of Bianca’s life,” says Bianca’s mother Kim Devins.” And online, she could be whoever she wanted to be.
An image of Bianca’s body first appeared on the social media platform Discord on July 14, 2019. At first, friends thought it was a fake because it was not unusual for people on the platform to post disturbing images to get a rise out of others. That thinking changed when Brandon Clark, who had been out with Bianca the night she died, called 911.
Before hanging up, Clark told the dispatcher where they could find him: a dead-end road not far from Bianca’s home. Responding officers placed Clark under arrest and found Bianca’s body hidden under a tarp. By the time police could get to Kim Devins, someone had already texted her family the horrific photo.
While the family grieved the loss of their daughter, the photos of her body spread across multiple social media platforms. Online trolls also relentlessly sent her family the images along with cruel memes and hateful messages blaming Bianca for what happened.
Steven Crimando, a behavioral scientist, called the attack on Bianca’s family “a form of psychological terrorism.” “A very twisted need is being met by continuing to share these and trying to get these [images] to Bianca’s family,” he tells CBS News national correspondent Jericka Duncan. “It actually furthers the physical crime.”
WHERE IS BIANCA?
Det. Bryan Coromato: July 14, 2019, it was a beautiful day in Utica. It was our … Boilermaker Road Race, which is a well-known 15K road race, where participants from across the world come to run.
As the first runners crossed the finish line, Utica Police Detectives Bryan Coromato and Michael Curley heard alarming reports of a possible murder.
Det. Michael Curley: Certainly nothing prepared us for a homicide on that day.
The horrific photo spreading on the social media platform Discord had prompted calls from around the country.
911 DISPATCH: What’s the female’s name?
CALLER 1: Bianca Michelle Devins.
CALLER 2: I’m hoping the girl is just bleeding badly and maybe still alive.
Det. Bryan Coromato: People didn’t know if it was real or not. … We needed to find her — to make sure — to see if she was all right.
Police body cameras were rolling as officers arrived at 17-year-old Bianca Devins’ home to perform a welfare check.
Jericka Duncan: When did you first learn that your daughter was missing?
Kim Devins: There was a knock at our door.
OFFICER [bodycam video]: Is there a Bianca Devins that lives here?
OLIVIA DEVINS: Yeah why?
Kim Devins: My daughter Olivia answered the door. She came up to me and said, “Mom, the police are here. There’s something going on with Bianca.”
The police didn’t show Bianca’s mother Kim the photo, but said they feared her daughter might be in danger.
OFFICER [bodycam video]: Can you try to get a hold of your daughter?
KIM DEVINS: Yeah.
Jericka Duncan: What were you thinking at that moment?
Kim Devins: I was so confused. … I didn’t know where Bianca was.
KIM DEVINS [to officer]: It went right to voice mail.
Kim told police she last saw Bianca the day before as she headed with friends to a concert in New York City.
Jericka Duncan: How was her mood when she left?
Kim Devins: I remember Bianca being so excited. … I left her alone for most of the night, just giving her space. … And this was her first, real adult concert.
Bianca texted her mother after the concert to say she was heading home. Bianca was enjoying her newfound freedom, Kim says, after graduating high school two weeks earlier.
But her journey to get there hadn’t been easy.
Jericka Duncan: At what point did you realize she needed help?
Kim Devins: Bianca first saw a therapist at 9 years old. She was having some separation anxiety, didn’t want to go to school and just wanted to stay home with me. … And then around 13, Bianca started showing signs of depression.
As Bianca isolated herself from others, she started to spend more time on social media.
Kim Devins: She really could just escape her own mental struggles, what was going on in her head and escape into, you know, a different world online.
BIANCA DEVINS [cell phone video]: Hi. It’s like 6 in the morning and I am currently editing this, but I just wanted to let you know that I am so funny.
Jericka Duncan: How prevalent was Bianca on social media?
EJ Dickson: She was extremely prevalent on social media. She had a large presence on many platforms.
Reporter EJ Dickson covered Bianca’s story for Rolling Stone, and says the internet has a name for the type of character Bianca portrayed online.
Jericka Duncan: What’s an E-girl?
EJ Dickson: An E-girl is — it’s basically a term used to describe a certain type of aesthetic. It’s like a very edgy, dark aesthetic — different colored hair.
But Bianca’s behavior was growing increasingly erratic. At age 16 she was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, an illness which Kim believes led to Bianca’s varying mood swings and affected her self-image.
Kim Devins: Bianca was very smart. She was very intuitive and self-aware, so she always knew something was wrong and she knew she needed help.
Bianca sought treatment, says her grandfather Frank Williams, and eventually returned to her role as a devoted big sister to Olivia and Maddy.
Frank Williams: We all said, “Bianca’s back. That’s our girl.” And there was this glow in her eyes when she talked about going to college and what she was going to do with her life.
Bianca immersed herself in her art and was even getting noticed as a promising young model.
Kim Devins: She would, you know, get lots of compliments from models and agents and she really felt good about herself when she was modeling.
Though she had turned a corner, Bianca maintained her edgy persona and by age 17 had created multiple identities.
EJ Dickson: She also had an active presence on 4chan, which is sort of on the darker side of the web … I’d go on record to say 4chan is a dangerous place — and it’s also just an incredibly, incredibly misogynistic space.
As Bianca’s popularity grew online, so did the number of some of her male followers called “orbiters,” says online friend Elizabeth.
Elizabeth: The reason they’re called “orbiters” is because they will follow, like, a girl they think is attractive online and, you know, just like orbit them, never become close to them.
EJ Dickson: Bianca was exceptionally patient and accessible to her orbiters to a fault at times.
One orbiter who captured Bianca’s attention was a 21-year-old Lyft driver named Brandon Clark, whom she met on Instagram in May 2019.
Jericka Duncan: What was he like?
Elizabeth: Honestly, nothing notable. He was just kind of like a normal one of these weird people, you know, one of these weird guys in the community.
After communicating on social media, they eventually took their relationship offline and briefly dated, but were never exclusive.
EJ Dickson: Bianca had made it clear to Brandon that she was not interested in a committed, monogamous relationship at this point, and Brandon had seemed to accept that.
Kim Devins: When Brandon came around, and he came around pretty often, he just looked like a goofy nerdy, boy next door.
Kim says there were no glaring red flags about Clark, so when Bianca told her mother he was taking her to that concert in New York City, Kim thought nothing of it.
Kim Devins: I took a little comfort in knowing that she would be with Brandon ’cause I trusted him.
As the search continued, Bianca’s friends suspected the photo circulating on Discord might be a hoax after learning it was Clark who posted the image.
Elizabeth: We all just assumed that he was making a joke and just trying to scare us or something.
EJ Dickson: On Discord, it’s fairly common for people to post gore and disturbing images just to sort of get a rise out of people. So, it was certainly within the realm of possibility that this could’ve been faked.
But things turned very real, very fast, when it was Clark who called 911.
A DEADLY ENCOUNTER
Kim Devins: It was like an out-of-body experience, but I was shaking. … I just kept thinking, no, no, she’s fine. … We just have to find her and we’re going to get her help and she’s going to be OK.
As Bianca’s family awaited news of her safety, police dispatch received a call.
DISPATCHER: 911. What is your emergency?
BRANDON CLARK: My name is Brandon. The victim is Bianca Michelle Devins. … I’m going to kill myself.
The officers at the Devins’ home could hear what was unfolding on their radios.
DISPATCH: He’s going to kill himself.
OFFICER [bodycam video to Kim Devins]: Brandon — is that her ex or her boyfriend — or? Apparently, he’s suicidal. He’s made statements saying that he hurt your daughter.
Kim Devins: It didn’t make sense to me. I remember just being very confused that they were saying that Brandon may have hurt her. It just didn’t make sense that he would have hurt her.
Investigators turned their attention to Brandon Clark, who by then had posted more disturbing pictures of Bianca including one with this message: “I’m sorry Bianca”.
Det. Bryan Coromato: We were fighting against time. … We needed to find her, and we needed to find her fast.
OFFICER [to Kim Devins]: He’s not telling us where he is. They’re basically pinging his phone.
The dispatcher tried to keep Brandon Clark talking until police could pinpoint his location.
DISPATCHER: Just stay on the line with me, OK?
BRANDON CLARK: No, I’m not going to stay on the line with you. I’m going to be dead on the ground.
But before hanging up, Clark told them exactly where to find him: a dead-end road, not far from Bianca’s home.
Jericka Duncan: Describe for me, where was Brandon? What was he doing?
Det. Bryan Coromato: Brandon’s vehicle was parked up ahead here. … An officer pulled up, and he observes Brandon. … Brandon’s armed with a knife.
Jericka Duncan: He has his gun pointed at him.
Det. Bryan Coromato: Yeah. He engages him.
OFFICER: Put the knife down man! Put the knife down!
Det. Bryan Coromato: There’s a conversation back and forth.
OFFICER: Where’s the girl!? Where is she!?
As the officer moved into position, Clark slashed himself with a knife. He then took a selfie and posted it to social media with the caption “Ashes to ashes.”
Det. Bryan Coromato: Ultimately backup arrives … they engage him in front of his vehicle.
After a brief struggle, Clark was disarmed and placed under arrest.
Det. Bryan Coromato: When I arrived on scene, Brandon was actually just being wheeled out to the ambulance.
As paramedics raced to save Clark’s life, investigators made a grim discovery: the body of a young woman hidden beneath a tarp. Detective Coromato knew they had found Bianca.
DET. BRYAN COROMATO [bodycam video to officers on scene]: The news has got this, so you better send someone to the mom’s house to give her a head’s up before …
But before police could make that call, Kim says she had already learned the painful truth.
Kim Devins: And Olivia was in the kitchen with her friend, and we heard the most excruciating scream that you’ve ever heard come out of a teenager.
Someone had texted Bianca’s family the horrific photo.
Kim Devins: I just kept screaming, “it’s not her. … It’s not her, it’s not my baby.”
Frank Williams: I knew it was her. And I said to myself, “I’m going to be strong, get my family through this.”
Det. Bryan Coromato: This wasn’t a whodunit; we know who did it. … We had to work backwards to figure out why this happened.
Investigators started at the crime scene.
Prosecutor Sarah DeMellier: As we were learning about Brandon, every single thing he did at the crime scene meant something to him.
Prosecutors Sarah DeMellier and Michael Nolan would lead the investigation for the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office and began with a cryptic message Clark spray-painted at the scene: “May you never forget me.”
Prosecutor Michael Nolan: As this case was going, one of the things we saw was that “May you never forget me.” … The first thing we did, and I think everybody does now as a prosecutor, something you don’t know, you Google it.
Investigators learned that message was taken from a series of Japanese comic books called “Punpun” that Clark and Bianca had often read together.
Prosecutor Sarah DeMellier: The books are dark. They’re violent. … And it’s almost a Japanese dark version of “Romeo and Juliet” … does he have some very … skewed picture that his relationship with Bianca is a star-crossed lover scenario.
And there was something else investigators found unusual about the scene.
Prosecutor Sarah DeMellier: The other thing that I think we found particularly eerie was the music at the crime scene.
Using a Bluetooth speaker, Clark had programmed his cell phone to play a particular song on repeat.
Prosecutor Sarah DeMellier: And that song was, we later learned, “Test Drive” by Joji … about a person who is more invested in the relationship than somebody else.
To understand exactly what was happening between Bianca and Clark that night, investigators began reviewing their social media accounts and soon learned the two weren’t alone at the concert.
Prosecutor Sarah DeMellier: … it wasn’t just Bianca and Brandon, that in fact they were accompanied by another person, another guy.
Direct messages from Bianca’s Discord account reveal she had invited a new friend named Alex and was concerned Clark might get jealous. Prosecutors tracked him down.
Prosecutor Sarah DeMellier: He was very helpful in explaining … the last moments that he spent with Bianca. That Brandon really seemed to … not want Alex there.
Investigators learned that after Clark and Bianca left the concert, she texted Alex to say, “… I think he saw me kiss you.”
Prosecutor Sarah DeMellier: When we do learn that there is a kiss at the concert … we need to explore … was it a crime of passion if you will? Was it a snap?
Just before dawn, as they headed back to Utica, Clark made an ominous post on social media.
Prosecutor Sarah DeMellier: Brandon has posted a photograph of what appears to be the New York State Thruway. … And in that post, he says, “Here comes Hell. It’s redemption, right?”
Even as investigators questioned what had happened after that — and where — nothing could have prepared them for what they would soon uncover.
Det. Bryan Coromato: We found out that there was a video of the murder … This is — a horror film playing out in real life.
A HORRIFYING DISCOVERY
Prosecutor Sarah DeMellier: It’s early in the morning when I go into the office. … And we get a call from the police department. … They tell us, you know, “there’s something you have to see here.”
The day after the murder of Bianca Devins, prosecutors Sarah DeMellier and Michael Nolan went down to the Utica Police Department. Overnight investigators had conducted a forensic analysis of Brandon Clark’s cell phone and found something terrifying.
Prosecutor Sarah DeMellier: They set us up with a computer, some speakers and some headphones and push play. And that’s when we see that there is a video made by Brandon of him killing Bianca.
Prosecutor Michael Nolan: I think it wasn’t until that very moment that we realized this was probably the most horrible, terrible thing either of us have ever seen in our life and as a prosecutor.
Many of the details are too gruesome to describe.
Prosecutor Sarah DeMellier: Bianca appears to be sleeping. The back seat is folded out so that its flat. He takes his camera, and he clips it to — almost — one of those vents that would be on the front dash.
Prosecutor Sarah DeMellier: What we see from there is the beginning of the homicide where Brandon reaches into the back. He collects from the back seat a knife, indicating to us that’s something he came … prepared with. And he hides it at the right side of – of the car.
Prosecutor Sarah DeMellier: We see that he wakes Bianca up. And goes about having a conversation with her.
Then, DeMellier says, Clark asked Bianca about that kiss she had with Alex, the other young man at the concert the night before.
Prosecutor Sarah DeMellier: He tells her, you know “I saw you kiss him, right?” And she says, “Yeah” and “I’m sorry.” And he says, “well sorry is not enough.” It’s just not good enough for him.
DeMellier says its then that Bianca reminded Clark they were not exclusive.
Prosecutor Sarah DeMellier: And she basically says, “Are you ready to take me home yet?” And at this point, with Brandon realizing this might be the end of the time that the two of them are gonna spend together, we see him … grab the knife … she does not see it coming.
DeMellier says Clark then killed Bianca.
Prosecutor Sarah DeMellier: And then he blames her. He screams dramatically into the camera, you know, “Bianca, why did you make me do this” like it’s her fault. And it’s not.
It was after he finished filming the video that Clark took those graphic photos of Bianca and posted them on social media.
Kim Devins: I know that if she had gotten out of that car, she would have called me.
Bianca’s mother and grandfather have never seen the video but heard of its contents early on in the investigation.
Kim Devins: I was 10 minutes away. If she had just been able to get out of that car. But he caught her completely off guard.
Jericka Duncan: Does that haunt you today?
Kim Devins: It does. I was so close.
Frank Williams: And she fought him. That’s the thing.
Kim Devins: She did, she fought back.
Frank Williams: That impressed me the most was she fought for her life.
But the sickening murder video wasn’t the only important piece of evidence investigators found on Clark’s cell phone. They learned that he was intent on killing Bianca long before the events of that night.
Investigator Michael Curley: We learned that Brandon is meticulous in his categorization, itemization of things that he wants to do.
Two days before killing Bianca, Clark utilized the Notes app on his smartphone and typed a sinister checklist.
Prosecutor Sarah DeMellier [to Nolan]: I would just describe this list as the “to-do” list, the things he needs to do to carry out his plan and to stage the crime scene.
Prosecutor Michael Nolan: [pointing to the list]: Set up speaker, and Last song?
And that’s not all. Clark did multiple internet searches — some the day before the murder — researching ways to kill.
Det. Michael Curley: He searched “how to choke someone out?” “How do you hit the carotid artery to kill someone?”
More evidence, investigators say, that this was not a crime of passion.
Det. Michael Curley: Brandon had this planned. He had the video staged. He had the phone staged. He knew exactly what he was doing.
Prosecutor Sarah DeMellier: We believe that when this relationship came to an end was when he was going to kill her.
Prosecutor Michael Nolan: Brandon wanted to be with her. She did not wanna be with him. And he wasn’t gonna let anybody have her. … So, no matter what she [Bianca] said, she was gonna wind up dead that night.
Two weeks after the murder, Bianca’s family and friends packed the courtroom wearing pink – her favorite color — as they waited for Brandon Clark to make his first public appearance.
Frank Williams: I was in court when they brought him in … and I said, “he just looks pathetic.”
Clark was officially charged with second-degree murder and pleaded not guilty. The defense was considering an Extreme Emotional Disturbance defense, but authorities and Bianca’s family were not buying it.
Kim Devins: Investigators and prosecutors describe him as just an evil person that wanted to murder someone. And that’s who Brandon is, he is a murderer. He is evil.
And as prosecutors prepared to go to trial, they had only one goal in mind.
Prosecutor Sarah DeMellier: We need justice for Bianca. And we need to make sure that Brandon Clark can never hurt anyone else again. That’s what our job is.
But there was nothing they could do to stop what was going on online. The horrific images of Bianca’s murder that Clark had posted continued to spread on the internet, and a vile campaign of hate was brewing on social media.
EJ Dickson: Bianca’s family members were being targeted as a result of Bianca’s death. … It was just nonstop harassment.
Steven Crimando: This is a form of psychological terrorism.
A SOCIAL MEDIA FIRESTORM
In the days following Bianca’s murder, downtown Utica was lit up in pink in her honor, and a candlelight vigil was held to celebrate her life.
Supporters gathered to sing “Puff the Magic Dragon,” a song her grandfather Frank sang to Bianca as a child; a tradition she continued with her baby sister Maddie.
Frank Williams: “Puff the Magic Dragon” – that’s the special song [emotional].
But as Bianca’s family grieved, the images of her dead body had spilled from the fringes of the internet into mainstream social media.
Frank Williams: I just can’t understand why people would want to see it. This is real.
Frank believes those who shared the photos didn’t see Bianca as a loving daughter or a cherished granddaughter. They didn’t see her as a person at all.
Frank Williams: These pictures aren’t fictitious pictures taken from a movie. They’re of a lovely, beautiful girl whose life was taken from her in a cruel way.
Bianca’s death photos spread on the social media platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Jericka Duncan: When you found out that your daughter’s images were on Twitter —
Kim Devins: It’s heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking. It’s so exploitive of my daughter. I just thought of how embarrassed she would be, how heartbroken she would be.
Kim pleaded with social media companies to remove the images, but it took time.
Kim Devins: They stayed on Instagram and Facebook for at least a couple of weeks.
Every time the photo was removed another one would appear in its place, says reporter EJ Dickson.
EJ Dickson: Unfortunately, extremely violent and disturbing images … can circulate wildly on social media, and a lot of social media platforms don’t have the infrastructure in place to prevent that from happening.
In response, some social media users led a grassroots effort to replace the death photos with messages of hope.
EJ Dickson: So, Bianca’s supporters tried to combat people trolling the hashtag by posting beautiful images of clouds, bunnies, ribbons — or fan art of Bianca …
Jericka Duncan: To what end?
EJ Dickson: They did it to push the death photos down in the search results.
But amid the battle to preserve Bianca’s memory, Kim says her family became victims of vicious online trolls who relentlessly sent them the horrific photos.
Kim Devins: They were sent to me. They were sent to various family members that were close to Bianca. Olivia has had to take a break from social media … because there’s always the risk of having to see her sister’s death photo.
Along with the photos were hateful messages blaming Bianca for what happened to her.
Kim Devins: It’s horrifying. It’s traumatizing to see people saying that your daughter, your, you know, this is my baby, that she deserved such a cruel end to her life.
Steven Crimando: They’re in direct messaging and text messages to the family. … A very twisted need is being met by continuing to share these and trying to get these to Bianca’s family. … It actually furthers the physical crime.
Behavioral scientist Stephen Crimando believes the individuals most likely responsible for the attacks on Bianca’s family belong to a community of online men called “incels.”
Steven Crimando: Incel is short for involuntary celibate. … Incels are individuals — men 21 or older who have gone six months or longer without any sort of sexual activity not by their own volition.
Incels see themselves as victims, says Crimando, in a never-ending struggle to win the affection of attractive women whom they refer to as “Stacys.”
Steven Crimando: Incels believe that they don’t have any chance with Stacys at all.
Jericka Duncan: Would Bianca be considered Stacy?
Steven Crimando: Bianca would be considered a Stacy.
Though Clark did not identify as an incel, he was celebrated by this dark community for what he did to Bianca.
Steven Crimando: The incel feels badly cheated to the point where it becomes just an obsessive thought that … I need to strike back for the unfairness.
In fact, this violent rhetoric has led to murder. In 2014, a 22-year-old self-identified incel went on a deadly rampage in Isla Vista, California, killing six people. Since then, the intelligence community believes there have been more than a dozen mass killings in North America resulting in 50 deaths attributed to incel ideology.
Steven Crimando: And as there’s been more incel killings, it has become more clear to us that there is, on this spectrum of incels, those at the extreme end who are certainly capable of murder. And because of that, it’s recognized now as a terrorist threat.
Elizabeth | Bianca’s online friend: We all knew that we were in the line of fire. And I was honestly afraid to, like, leave my house.
The response to Bianca’s murder by the incel community served as a wake-up call for friends like Elizabeth and other young women in their online world who realized they too could be targets.
Elizabeth: You know, those same incel communities that were praising Brandon’s actions were saying, oh, I wonder who’s going to be next? I can’t wait for the next victim or, you know, or the next girl to be killed.
As Clark’s case headed to trial, emotions ran high for Bianca’s family, who feared her murder video would be played in court.
Kim Devins: My last memory of Bianca is her full of life, so excited. … So, to have to see her in her last moments, how she was brutally murdered, is absolutely traumatizing and something no one should ever see.
But shortly before his trial began in February 2020, Clark pleaded guilty to Bianca’s murder.
BRANDON CLARK [in court]: I know that sorry is not enough, I know it won’t take back what I did.
Kim Devins: He said he wanted to spare us from having to see the details of Bianca’s murder.
Jericka Duncan: Did you believe him?
Kim Devins: I don’t believe him.
Kim may have been right to be suspicious. Before sentencing, Clark changed his mind yet again and wanted to go to trial.
Det. Bryan Coromato: We know that he’s – he’s playing a game with everybody.
JUSTICE FOR BIANCA
Just five months after pleading guilty to murdering Bianca Devins, Brandon Clark was back in court to try and change his plea back to not guilty. This request infuriated the Devins family, who had already been through so much.
FRANK WILLIAMS [outside courtroom after July 28th hearing]: Don’t play games. Take your punishment. Give this family some peace.
Bianca’s mom said she knew why Clark now wanted to go to trial.
Kim Devins: He found out that there were media and production companies interested in Bianca’s story and he wanted to be able to tell his side.
Clark wouldn’t admit to that. Months later he took the stand to plead his case.
He blamed his former attorney Luke Nebush, a well-respected local public defender, for not visiting him enough in prison and pressuring him into pleading guilty.
BRANDON CLARK: He knew that I was a first-time offender and had no knowledge of the legal system, knowledge about court proceedings.
On the stand, Nebush said Clark’s claims were not true.
LUKE NEBUSH: I went to the Oneida County jail 15 times prior to his plea. … There were moments where I spent 4 or 5 hours with him. There were moments where I probably spent 2. Maybe an average of 3.
He said, in fact, he was the one who encouraged his former client to plead not guilty and go to trial, but it was Clark who refused.
PROSECUTOR MICHAEL NOLAN: Again, whose idea was it to plead guilty to these charges?
LUKE NEBUSH: Mr. Clark’s.
MICHAEL NOLAN: And it was your intention … to take this matter to trial?
LUKE NEBUSH: Yes.
And during cross examination prosecutor Michael Nolan demolished Clark’s argument about his “supposed” legal knowledge.
PROSECUTOR MICHAEL NOLAN: You are making claims that Mr. Nebush did not do his job, but you don’t know that — correct?
BRANDON CLARK: With the resources I was provided it looks like he did not do his job.
MICHAEL NOLAN: And again, what law school did you go to Mr. Clark?
BRANDON CLARK: I did not go to law school.
MICHAEL NOLAN: Right. So, you don’t know that — correct?
BRANDON CLARK: Correct.
MICHAEL NOLAN: Thank you.
The judge denied Brandon Clark’s request to withdraw his guilty plea. And on March 16, 2021, nearly two years after Bianca was murdered, he was finally brought in to be sentenced.
Bianca’s mother and grandfather had been waiting a long time to face Bianca’s killer:
KIM DEVINS [in tears]: With the death of your child comes the most unimaginable and indescribable pain. A pain that time cannot heal and only seems to worsen.
FRANK WILLIAMS: Brandon, for the cruel manner in which you took my granddaughter’s life, for the total disregard you had for a human life; for the callous act in which you posted pictures of her murdered body on social media to gratify your own selfish purposes, you, Brandon, deserve to spend the rest of your life in prison.
Before the judge read his sentence, Clark gave a statement:
BRANDON CLARK: 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 … [looks down shaking his head].
Jericka Duncan: Did you all believe his apology? Did you think it was sincere at all?
Kim Devins: No.
Frank Williams: Not sincere.
Frank Williams: It’s part of his story, is to play, oh poor me. … It’s not about what he did to Bianca. … It’s all about HIM.
The judge also appeared unmoved by Clark’s apology, and gave him the maximum sentence for murdering Bianca – 25 years to life.
Frank Williams [standing outside the courtroom post sentencing]: Our deepest thoughts now are with Bianca, our angel. Who has given so much love to this family.
But despite their relief, Bianca’s family knows their fight may not be over. After Clark serves 25 years in prison, he could be eligible for parole; he will be in his late 40s.
Jericka Duncan: Did Bianca receive justice?
Kim Devins: No. Justice would be Bianca being alive.
Frank Williams: But the justice for Bianca now takes on a different form.
Bianca’s family is trying to turn their grief into action. They have worked with local politicians, like then-Congressman Anthony Brindisi, to try and get “Bianca’s Law” passed.
FORMER CONGRESSMAN BRINDISI: Today we are putting social media companies on notice. We are taking substantive action on the federal level to bring the Devins’s peace and ensure this never happens to another family again.
Bianca’s Law is a bill that would hold social media companies accountable for violent and graphic content that they allow on their platforms.
Frank Williams: So, we looked at that as a start for a series of laws and policies that would prevent death photos like Bianca’s from being put on social media.
They also have established a scholarship in Bianca’s name.
Frank Williams: And that will go to a student … who was going to follow Bianca’s ambitions of helping – [emotional] — helping adolescents with mental health struggles like Bianca had.
Jericka Duncan: How do you want Bianca to be remembered?
Kim Devins: I want Bianca to be remembered for her smile, for her bright spirit, for her huge caring heart. Bianca always wanted to help someone. Even in her worst struggles, when she couldn’t help herself, she helped others.
Frank Williams: And she will never, ever be forgotten.
This year, the New York State Assembly and Senate passed a law that criminalizes sharing personal images of crime victims. The law awaits the New York governor’s signature.
The Devins family still receives graphic photos of Bianca’s murder.
Produced by Jonathan Leach. Nancy Kramer is the executive editor. Judy Tygard is the executive producer.
I have been writing professionally for over 20 years and have a deep understanding of the psychological and emotional elements that affect people. I’m an experienced ghostwriter and editor, as well as an award-winning author of five novels.