Police have intensified the manhunt for alleged murderer Steve Stephens. The search has been ongoing since Sunday afternoon after Stephens Facebooked a video of his random homicide of an elderly man, Robert Godwin Sr., near Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio. Stephens also claimed on his profile, which has since been removed, that he had killed up to 15 other people in what he described as his “Easter day slaughter.” Although police haven’t located any additional victims, they consider the 6’1″ and 244 lb Stephens (who is bald and wears a beard) to be armed and extremely dangerous.
CNN reports that Stephens’ phone last gave off a signal near Erie, which is 100 miles away from the homicide site. As such, they’ve widened the search net to include Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, and Michigan. Stephens’ mother also spoke with CNN about how she last saw her son on Saturday, and he issued an ominous statement about possibly never seeing each other again. On Sunday, Stephens told his mother that he was killing people “because he was angry with his girlfriend.”
The Washington Post has more about the homicide video, which was apparently not live streamed as originally believed (but posted a few hours after the fact) and included the following bone-chilling dialogue:
“I’m about to kill this guy right here; he’s an old dude,” Stephens said as he approached Robert Godwin Sr., who was out looking for aluminum cans on the sidewalk.
“Can you do me a favor?” Stephens said to Godwin before asking him to say the name Joy Lane.
“Joy Lane?” Godwin responded.
“Yeah,” Stephens replied. “She’s the reason why this is about to happen to you.”
Cleveland.com reveals that Stephens’ estranged girlfriend has now been placed in protective custody and is cooperating with authorities.
Although this video wasn’t broadcast on Facebook as a live stream, the social media outlet has come under fire after reports that Stephens’ footage was available for three hours after he uploaded it. This highlights the inherent difficulties of a vetting system that relies on user-based flagging for videos, especially after multiple crimes have been live streamed in the Chicago area (and elsewhere) over the past several months.
Following the discovery and removal of Stephens’ homicide video, Facebook issued a statement: “This is a horrific crime and we do not allow this kind of content. We work hard to keep a safe environment on Facebook, and are in touch with the law.”