Steve Stephens has committed suicide. He was wanted for shooting dead 74-year-old Robert Godwin in a random act of violence on Sunday
The man wanted for shooting dead a 74-year-old man and posting video of the heinous act to Facebook has committed suicide.
A tip came in shortly after 11am Tuesday that a car matching the description of Steve Stephens’ white Ford Fusion was parked outside a McDonald’s near Erie, Pennsylvania, Cleveland, Ohio Police Chief Calvin Williams said at a press conference.
When cops responded to the fast food restaurant, Stephens got in his car and fled the scene.
A short pursuit ensued, but eventually cops cornered Stephens on a stretch of Buffalo Road, near an old elementary school, where he came to a stop.
Officers were walking over to arrest Stephens when he shot himself inside his vehicle around 11.10am.
More information will be released at a second press conference later Tuesday.
The street has been blocked off while police carry out their investigation.
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Police were tailing Stephens’ white Ford Fusion Tuesday morning when he suddenly shot himself. Above, a view of the scene after the suicide
Cops found Stephens after getting a tip that his car was parked at a McDonald’s near Erie, Pennsylvania
Police say they are looking into where Stephens was between the time of the murder and when he shot himself
Pennsylvania State Police cordon off a one-block radius area as they investigate the scene where Stephens shot himself
Erie is located about 100 miles east of Cleveland, where Stephens shot dead Robert Godwin on Sunday, in a random act of violence after breaking up with his girlfriend.
On Monday, Cleveland cops said they had expanded their search to five states including Pennsylvania.
Stephens’ cellphone pinged in Erie not long after the murder, but it seems that he didn’t travel further after that.
Chief Williams says they’ll be looking into where he has been in the time between the shooting and his suicide, and whether he had any ties in the Erie area.
Williams noted that there ‘are a lot of remote areas’ around Erie where Stephens could have hidden.
Williams said he hoped the search for Stephens would have ended differently.
‘This started with one tragedy and ended with another person ending their life… We would like to have brought Stephens in peacefully and talked to him about why this happened,’ Williams said.
Earlier Tuesday, 911 calls were released from the day of the murder, showing how people across the country called in to report the violent Facebook video.
Dispatchers answered 300 more calls on Easter than the previous Sunday because of the brutal murder.
Dispatchers say when the first calls started coming in, they weren’t from people near the scene of the crime, but from those who watched the disturbing clip online – some as far away as California, according to Fox 8.
Dispatchers struggled to keep up with the calls, some of which were from people who just wanted to check in to see if the suspect had been caught.
‘Ma’am, ma’am, ma’am, I got about a 100 911 calls about this,’ a dispatcher told one woman who called in.
Stephens was wanted on aggravated murder charges for killing 74-year-old Robert Godwin and then posting video of the shooting (above) to Facebook
Shortly after the murder, Stephens’ cellphone pinged in Erie. It seems he had stayed put in the town – located 100 miles east of Cleveland – since then
Meanwhile, former neighbors have spoken out about Stephens’ creepy behavior growing up.
Tony Henderson lived across the street from Stephens and his family. When the Stephens family moved to his neighborhood, he says Steve was in his early teens and he was in his late 20s.
When he heard what happened on Sunday, he said he wasn’t surprised because Stephens always seemed ‘out there’.
‘I never quite understood that kid through his entire life, because on some days he would talk to you, and then on others he would be mean and staring at you and very quiet,’ Henderson told the Daily Beast.
Henderson says he ‘could see something wasn’t right’ with the boy, a feeling that was confirmed when he was invited over to see the teen’s pet bird.
‘He had a parakeet and he had that bird crawl from the cage and on to his finger. Then he slapped the bird as hard as he could with his other hand, and the bird was lying on the floor. The bird looked dead to me. I looked at him and he was smiling and laughing as he looked at me and that bird,’ Henderson recalled.
That lack of empathy is concerning. Science has shown that many rapists and serial murderers tortured animals as children.
‘Hey, animals don’t make you weird like that,’ he added. ‘He was that way before he got that bird. Heard he used to torture other pets he had. He was like that from the time I first met him.’
Alexis Lee, 34 (left), who had known Stephens since he was a teenager told DailyMail.com he had tried to get her to spend time with him in the local casino, where he had lost heavily. Charisse Leonard, 28, (right) said: ‘I thought he was confused about his sexuality and could even have been gay.’
The Facebook killer Steve Stephens was brought up in this eastern section of Cleveland and lived at this home with his mom while growing up
Next-door-neighbor Alexis Lee was also creeped out by Stephens. She told DailyMail.com that as a teenager he bought a python and would approach women trying to women their attention.
FACEBOOK’S RESPONSE TO THE DISTURBING MURDER VIDEO:
11:09am: First video from Stephens, in which he threatens to murder, is uploaded to Facebook. No one reports it to Facebook.
11:11am: Video of the shooting is uploaded.
11:22am: Confesssion is recorded via Facebook Live.
11:27am: Live video ends and reports start coming in.
12:59am: Video of the shooting is first reported.
1:22pm: Suspect’s account is disabled and all videos are no longer visible to the public.
‘He didn’t really know how to talk to us ladies,’ Lee said. ‘The snake was meant to draw my attention and he regularly told me he had a crush on me.
‘But he wasn’t my type at all. There was nothing attractive about him. He did have a nice personality though.
Another local woman Charisse Leonard, 28, said: ‘I thought he was confused about his sexuality and could even have been gay.
‘I had never known him to have had a girlfriend. But he had a nice nature as did his mother and family. I never saw his dad.’
Stephens, worked as case manager at Beech Brook, a behavioral health agency headquartered in Pepper Pike, near Cleveland.
He joined in 2008 and began as a youth mentor for teens and for the past two years as a vocational specialist for the Assertive Community Treatment team, which provides support to older teens and young adults.
He did not have a criminal record and had only been accused of traffic offenses.
But he blew his salary at the tables in the Jack casino, in a former department store in downtown Cleveland, and at one point petitioned for bankruptcy.
Rambling videos he shared showed his despair, saying he was out of options and wanted to kill as many innocent people as he could.
Stephens posted a video of himself killing Robert Godwin Sr., a former foundry worker who had 10 children, police said. In it, he said, ‘I snapped, I just snapped.’ But police would not speculate on what was behind it.
‘Only Steve knows that,’ Williams said.
In the video, Stephens told Godwin a woman’s name and said, ‘She’s the reason that this is about to happen to you.’ Godwin did not seem to recognize the name.
The woman Stephens spoke of, Joy Lane, said in a text message to CBS that ‘we had been in a relationship for several years. I am sorry that all of this has happened.’
She also said Stephens was ‘a nice guy’ who was good to her and her children.
Stephens reportedly went on the rampage after his girlfriend, Joy Lane, broke up with him earlier in the day. The former couple pictured above
Stephens said that he wouldn’t stop killing until Lane or his mother called him
Stephens filed for bankruptcy two years ago despite holding down a job as a counselor helping young people develop job skills and find employment. The behavioral health agency where he worked said an extensive background check before he was hired turned up nothing worrisome.
In one video posted on Facebook, Stephens said that he gambled away everything and that he and his girlfriend had planned to marry but did not, without saying why. He blamed her for what was about to happen.
Some friends said they knew about his gambling. But the videos showed a man they did not recognize.
Alexis Lee, who saw Stephens last week, said his childhood friend always seemed respectful and got along with everybody.
‘He never ever told me he had problems or issues. It was always good things,’ Lee said. ‘He was always just so happy and cool, calm, collected, like, that’s why it’s so shocking.’
Other neighbors said he was quiet as a kid and intelligent, recalling how he went to college and got a master’s degree.
‘He was just a no problem person at all, compared to a lot of people,’ said Cynthia Coley, a former neighbor.
Tributes are being laid at the scene of Steve Stephens’ Facebook murder of Robert Goodwin. The father and grandfather was walking on the sidewalk when the killing was broadcast
Robert Godwin’s (pictured) son says his father was a retired foundry worker
It’s believed that Godwin was out collecting cans when he was shot dead on Sunday
In one video in which he blamed his girlfriend, Stephens said he woke up last week and ‘couldn’t take it anymore.’
Investigators said that Godwin was the only victim so far linked to Stephens, despite his claim on Facebook that he killed over a dozen people.
On Monday evening, Facebook announced that it was launching a review for reporting harmful content following the killing. The company said that Stephens posted a video of himself announcing his intent to commit murder, then two minutes later posted another video of himself shooting and killing Godwin. A few minutes after that, he went live and confessed.
The company said it disabled Stephen’s account within 23 minutes of receiving the first report about the video of the fatal shooting and two hours after receiving any report.
‘In this case we did not receive a report about the first video, and we only received a report about the second video – containing the shooting – more than an hour and 45 minutes after it was posted,’ said Justin Osofsky, Facebook’s vice president of global operations. ‘We received reports about the third video, containing the man’s live confession, only after it had ended.’