Steve Stephens, the Cleveland murder suspect accused of posting video of the killing on Facebook, was found Tuesday in Erie County, Pennsylvania, state police said on Twitter.
“After a brief pursuit, Stephens shot and killed himself,” Pennsylvania State Police said.
The nationwide manhunt for Steve Stephens has led to a spate of dead ends, forcing authorities to scour abandoned buildings and plead for the public’s help in turning in the murder suspect.
Stephens, 37, is wanted for the death of Robert Godwin — a self-taught mechanic and grandfather of 14 who was shot while walking home from an Easter meal in Cleveland. Video of the killing was posted on Facebook.
More than 400 tips have funneled in from as far away as Texas, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said Tuesday. Many were reported sightings that turned out to be false.
So authorities have embarked on the dangerous task of searching Cleveland’s abandoned buildings while hoping a $50,000 reward will spur anyone with information about Stephens’ location to come forward.
Through their tears, several of Godwin’s children said they hold no animosity against the suspect.
“Each one of us forgives the killer, the murderer,” Godwin’s daughter Tonya Godwin Baines said. “We want to wrap our arms around him.”
Seconds before the shooting, Stephens asked the victim to say the name of a woman believed to associated with the suspect.
“She’s the reason why this is about to happen to you,” Stephens said.
Then, the gunman fires the weapon. The victim recoils and falls to the ground.
Stephens is a black male who is 6-foot-1 and weighs 244 pounds. He was last seen wearing a dark blue and gray or black striped polo shirt. He was driving a white Ford Fusion with temporary license plates, Cleveland police said.
Stephens claimed on Facebook that he had committed multiple homicides, but police said they had no knowledge of other victims. He has many traffic violations but no criminal record, Williams said.
“Obviously, he’s got deep, deep issues,” the police chief said.
The woman believed to be associated with the suspect has told multiple news agencies that she was “overwhelmed” by the tragedy.
“Steve really is a nice guy… He is generous with everyone he knows. He was kind and loving to me and my children,” she told CBS News.
Williams said police have spoken to the woman, and she is safe and cooperating with the investigation. The woman’s neighbors told CNN that Stephens often stayed at her Twinsburg home with her three young girls. One resident said Stephens was there two days ago, fixing the home’s garage.
Stephens was employed at Beech Brook, a behavioral health agency in northeastern Ohio that serves children, teenagers and families, according to a spokeswoman for the facility.
“We are shocked and horrified like everyone else,” said Nancy Kortemeyer. “To think that one of our employees could do this is awful.”
She said Stephens was a vocational specialist who worked with youth and young adults. He had previously worked as a youth mentor, she said.
Victim was celebrating Easter
Robert Godwin was walking home from a holiday meal with his family when he encountered the gunman on a sidewalk.
My sincere condolences to the family of Robert Godwin, Sr. Mr. Godwin meant so much to so many & will be missed. Praying for peace in #OH11. pic.twitter.com/V2iJ3m69Py