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What We Know About the Man Who Broadcast a Killing on Facebook

Police say Steve Stephens shot a 74-year-old man at random, filmed the crime, and posted it to Facebook.
Steve Stephens. Photo via Cleveland Police

Police are actively looking for a man who they believe committed a brutal murder in Cleveland on Sunday and uploaded the footage to his Facebook account, CNN reports.

The video, which has since been taken offline, showed the suspect, Steve Stephens, driving around in a car and talking about a woman before approaching an elderly man police have identified as 74-year-old Robert Godwin. At one point, Stephens looks at the camera and says, "Found me somebody I'm going to kill, this guy right here, this old dude," before pointing the gun to Godwin's head and firing, the Huffington Post reports.


According to a local CBS affiliate, Stephens, 37, lived in Euclid, Ohio, and worked at Beech Brook, a behavioral health agency that helped children and families in the area. His mother, Maggie Green, told CNN that her son was in social work and that the woman he was discussing in the video was his girlfriend of three years. Stephens admits in the video that he's killed more people, but police have only connected him to Godwin's death.

Authorities in the area believe that Stephens has been on the run since the video was posted at 2 PM local time and warned people in Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, and Michigan to stay on the lookout for his white Ford Fusion. According to Cleveland 19 News, Stephens's last phone signal placed him in Erie, Pennsylvania, although Erie and Pennsylvania state police told USA Today that information was not confirmed.

"He is considered armed and dangerous, so we want people to be careful out there," Cleveland police chief Calvin Williams told reporters.

Green said that her son came to her house on Saturday and told her it would likely be the last time he'd ever see her. After learning about the video on Sunday, Green called Stephens, and he reportedly told her that he was firing at random because he was "mad with his girlfriend." Police believe that Stephens and Godwin did not know each other.

"He is a good guy… He'd give you the shirt off his back, and I'm not just saying that for these cameras," Godwin's son, Robert Godwin Jr., told Cleveland 19 News. "I hate [that] he's gone… I don't know what I'm going to do… It's not real."


Although the incident wasn't streamed using Facebook Live, it's just the latest in a number of violent crimes broadcast on social media. In January, four teenagers were arrested in Chicago after torturing a mentally handicapped man on Facebook Live, and in February, a teenager who filmed her friend's rape on Periscope was sentenced to nine months in prison.

Facebook released a statement about the crime on Sunday, saying, "We work hard to keep a safe environment on Facebook and are in touch with law enforcement in emergencies when there are direct threats to physical safety."

Update 3:50 PM EST: The FBI, ATF, and US Marshals Service are now offering a $50,000 reward for Stephens's arrest, Cleveland 19 reports. Cleveland police chief Calvin Williams also called the manhunt for Stephens a "national search" during a press conference on Monday. Williams said law enforcement had reached Stephens via cellphone after the homicide, but failed to convince him to turn himself in. Stephens has been placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list, according to USA Today.

Update April 18, 10:15 AM EST: At a press conference on Tuesday, authorities said they felt "confident" that Stephens was not linked to any additional murders, as he indicated in his initial Facebook video. They also said that he was not on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list, disputing earlier reports from Monday.

The situation is ongoing and we will update the piece as we know more.