Cleveland Police Widen Manhunt for Facebook Murder Suspect

By Reuters
April 17, 2017 Updated: April 17, 2017

The manhunt for a murder suspect who police said posted a video of himself on Facebook shooting an elderly man in Cleveland on Sunday widened Monday as authorities asked the public for help and pleaded with the suspect to turn himself in.

Police said they have searched “dozens of locations” for the suspect, Steve Stephens, and tried to convince him to turn himself in when they spoke with him on his cell phone on Sunday. But Stephens remains at large as the hunt for him expands in Ohio and neighboring states, they said.

“Obviously, this individual is armed and dangerous, and quite frankly at this point he could be in a lot of places,” Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Stephen Anthony told a news conference in Cleveland.

Police said Stephens used Facebook to post video of him killing 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. Stephens is not believed to have known Godwin, a retired foundry worker who media reports said spent Easter Sunday morning with his son and daughter-in-law before he was killed on camera in the street.

Steve Stephens is seen in an undated handout photo released on April 16, 2017.  (Cleveland Police/Handout via REUTERS)
Steve Stephens is seen in an undated handout photo released on April 16, 2017. (Cleveland Police/Handout via REUTERS)

Stephens, who has no prior criminal record, is not suspected in any other murders, despite a claim he made in the video of having killed more than a dozen other people, police said.

“We know that Steve is still out there,” said Cleveland police Chief Calvin Williams. “We’re asking the public to remain vigilant. We’re asking you to go about your day, but be careful.”

The last confirmed sighting of Stephens was at the scene of the homicide. Police said he might be driving a white or cream-colored Ford Fusion, and asked anyone who spots him or his car to call police or a special FBI hotline (800-CALLFBI).

“We’re still asking Steve to turn himself in,” said Williams. “But if he doesn’t, we’ll find him.”

Late Sunday night Cleveland police issued an aggravated murder warrant for Stephens and warned he could have crossed into Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana or Michigan.

It is not the first time a serious crime has been posted on Facebook. In January, four black people in Chicago were accused of attacking an 18-year-old disabled white man and broadcasting the assault on the social media site while making anti-white racial taunts.

A month later, the suspects pleaded not guilty to assaulting the man.