Bianca Devins’ stepmother Kaleigh Nicole Rimmer urged people to stop sharing gruesome photos of her stepdaughter’s dead body on social media in an impassioned Facebook post. Bianca, a 17-year-old artist and aspiring psychology student from Utica, NY, was brutally murdered early Sunday morning, and her alleged killer, 21-year-old Brandon Andrew Clark, uploaded the photos to social media before they spread like wildfire. Clark, who police say Bianca had been dating for about two months, has been charged with second-degree murder.
“It is absolutely disgusting that people are sharing, [screenshotting] the pictures of Bianca’s [tragic] death,” Rimmer wrote. “When I close my eyes, those images haunt me.”
According to Utica police, Clark allegedly stabbed Bianca in the neck over an argument that started at a concert in New York City they had attended Saturday night and escalated on their drive back upstate. Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara said he believes Clark may have been jealous that Bianca kissed somebody else at the concert. Clark uploaded graphic images of the murder to Instagram, 4chan, and gaming chat platform Discord, and users quickly reported the crime to police. But — in a grim reflection on our culture — some users immediately began sharing the photos in an effort to gain followers and social media clout, as well as making misogynistic memes celebrating the death of Bianca, who was somewhat of a social media personality. Social media platforms were criticized for not taking down the images fast enough.
“Instead of repeatedly sharing and saving these sick pictures, you report them so they can be taken down. And instead you post about what a beautiful young woman she was,” Rimmer pleaded, asking people to show more consideration toward Bianca and her family. “Imagine sitting there in disbelief and praying to God that this is all some mistake and that your baby will walk through the door any minute. Now imagine seeing those pictures and having everything in you break.”
Bianca's friends, family, and fans are trying to drown out the gory images by posting photos that celebrate the teen's life. According to Bianca's obituary, she was an aspiring model and talented artist, who enjoyed playing the ukulele and loved animals. They have been tagging her in positive and lighthearted photos of pink clouds, Hello Kitty, and platitudes like "think happy thoughts" with hashtags such as #RIPBianca. Rimmer changed her Facebook profile picture to "#PinkForBianca" typed on a candy-pink background.
Rimmer shared that Bianca had been struggling with mental illness. “She had been through hell and back conquering her own mental illness and she won. She was getting better. Fighting [every day]. She was happy,” Rimmer wrote. “Even in her deepest, darkest, lowest points, she somehow managed to help so many people who were battling their own demons.” According to the obituary, Bianca's passion, which she wanted to pursue as a career, was to help other young people dealing with mental illness. She had just graduated high school in June and was planning on attending community college in the fall and studying psychology. Bianca’s family created a scholarship fund in her name for students pursuing a degree in psychology.
"Our family is devastated by the loss of our beautiful angel, Bianca. Our lives are now forever changed; our hearts are broken," Bianca’s mother Kim Devins wrote in a statement provided to Refinery29. "We will always remember her beautiful smile that lit up our lives. Her spirit will strengthen us and live on forever. While I could not be there to protect her from this violent end, I will now be her voice and spread the message of 'love, not violence.' Let us all pledge to share Bianca's amazing spirit to make this world a better place."
A vigil was held on Monday to honor Bianca's life, and the funeral proceedings are scheduled for Thursday and Friday in Utica.
Refinery29 have reached out to members of Bianca’s family and will update this story if we hear back.