A 17-Year-Old Girl Was Murdered. How Did Photos of Her Death Go Viral?

A 17-year-old Instagram celebrity was brutally murdered allegedly by an obsessed male friend who then posted images of the slaying on Instagram, gaming website Discord, and 4chan, prompting an outpouring of shock and horror on social media.

The victim, Bianca Devins, is a 17-year-old so-called “egirl” who lived in Utica, NY, and had a small following on Instagram under the name @escty. Devins also frequently posted on the discussion forum 4chan. Utica Police confirmed Devins’ death.

According to a statement sent to Rolling Stone from the Devins family, Bianca was “a talented artist, a loving sister, daughter, and cousin, and a wonderful young girl, taken from us all too soon.” The statement also notes that Devins had just graduated from high school and was looking forward to attending a local community college in the fall. “She is now looking down on us, as she joins her cat, Belle, in heaven,” the statement reads. “Bianca’s smile brightened our lives. She will always be remembered as our Princess.”

“She was a sweet person, very caring,” says a friend of Devins who identified herself as a 20-year-old named Chels, who met Devins on a Discord server three years ago. “She always tried to make people feel good, feel loved, helped them when they were down even if she was going through her own shit.”

The suspect is Brandon Andrew Clark, a resident of Bridgeport, NY, which is about an hour away from Utica. Clark allegedly posted photos of the murder on his Instagram story, including an extremely graphic and bloody image of the victim sitting in an SUV with her neck cut. He also allegedly posted a photo on a server on Discord, with the caption, “Sorry fuckers, you’re gonna have to find someone else to orbit.” (Orbiting is a term used to describe men who lurk on a woman’s social media accounts in the hopes of having sex with her.) Shortly after posting the images, Clark posted a number of other cryptic videos on the Instagram story for his account @yesjuliet, including him driving a car down a dark road with the caption: “Here comes hell. It’s redemption, right?” Clark also changed his Instagram bio to read  “10/06/1997 – 7/14/19.”

According to Chels, who was on the server, Devins and Clark attended a concert by Canadian musician Nicole Dollenganger the night before the murder. Clark was supposed to be Devins’ ride home. Chels said that Clark and Devins reportedly met up with another person, a male, at the concert. The three reportedly smoked weed in Clark’s car together before Clark and Devins drove back to Utica around 10:00 pm.

In DMs with another friend on the Discord server that were shared with Rolling Stone, Devins makes reference to Clark being “so mad” that she held hands with this person and kissed him at the show. The last message sent by Devins is timestamped 5:47 am, less than two hours before police arrived at the scene to discover her body.

The images were posted around 6:40 a.m. “I didn’t believe it [at first]. I thought it was fake or a lookalike,” she says. “Then I started comparing her distinct facial features … after I realized, ‘Holy shit, this might be her.'” Someone else on the server who followed Clark on Snapchat found his location on Snapmaps and called the police, who arrived at the scene shortly thereafter. When reached for comment regarding how the images ended up on the server, a spokesperson from Discord told Rolling Stone: “We are shocked and deeply saddened by this terrible situation. 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.”

In a phone interview with Rolling Stone, Lt. Brian Coromato of the Utica Police Department said Utica police received multiple calls at around 7:20 a.m. from concerned 4chan and Discord users who had seen Clark’s posts. Coromato also said they received a call from Clark himself, who “made incriminating statements with respect to the homicide” and “also was alluding the fact that he was going to harm himself,” according to a statement sent from the UPD. When an officer approached him, Clark began stabbing himself in the neck.

When police arrived at the scene, Devins was already deceased; though an autopsy has not yet been conducted to determine time and cause of death, Coromato says police believe it was a few hours before Clark called police, and “multiple sharp objects” were found at the scene, including a razor and a knife. Clark was alive, though severely injured from apparently self-inflicted wounds, and is in critical condition, Coromato says.

Coromato confirmed the authenticity of three images that circulated on Discord, 4chan, and Instagram following her death, though he says a video circulating purporting to be of her death is not authentic. Though he declined to confirm the identity of the victim or suspect, a heartbreaking Instagram post from Devins’ sister appeared to confirm Devins’ death, reading: “I hate knowing you’re not going to ever come back home. You were the best sister anyone could’ve ever asked for.” Another Instagram post from Clark’s brother also alluded to the crime, reading: “Shoutout to all the people who target someone’s family and blame them for a persons [sic] decisions. Nothing better than waking up at 4am to find out your brother killed someone and tried to kill himself.”

It’s unclear at this time what the precise nature of Clark and Devins’ relationship was. On social media, many painted Clark as a lonely, obsessed fan who had stalked Devins and tracked her down at a concert, then killed her after she sexually rejected him. This narrative prompted the hashtag #ripbianca, which went viral, with many claiming the tragedy was an all-too-familiar story for women, who are often terrified of rejecting men for fear of inciting their rage.

While Coromato declined to specify Clark’s potential motive, he said that police believed Clark and Devins “were boyfriend/girlfriend, whatever kids these days call it.” Chels, however, disputed this, saying that while the two were friends and knew each other well, their relationship was strictly platonic. She also said that on the night of Devins’ murder, Clark had agreed to drive her to and from a concert they were both attending in Utica. “They were on good terms,” she says.

On forums like 4chan, however, a thread featuring images of a deceased Devins features posts from users joking about the photos and blaming her for her own murder for flirting with male followers online, referring to Clark in the same context as UC Santa Barbara shooter and incel hero Elliot Rodger. Others also re-shared the grisly images of Devins’ murder on Instagram, with some users even capitalizing on the story buy making accounts promising to post images of Devins’ murder in exchange for likes and follows.

In the hours after images of Devins’ body were circulated on Instagram, some have criticized the platform for being slow to remove the images. (At press time, they are still relatively easy to find on the platform.) Coromato says the police department has reached out to various social media platforms and asked them to remove the images, but “we haven’t heard back yet. From what I understand they have not [been removed].” In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for Instagram tells Rolling Stone: “We disabled the @yesjuliet account for violating our policies. We have also taken steps to prevent others from re-uploading the content posted to that account to Instagram,” citing technology that proactively flags the image before users can post it on the platform. The rep declined to elaborate on how long the story was available on Clark’s Instagram page.

This story has been updated with comment from Discord and Devins’ family.