Monday 11 December 2017

Hunt for gunman who posted murder video on Facebook

Police are hunting murder suspect Steve Stephens. Photo: AP
Police are hunting murder suspect Steve Stephens. Photo: AP

Harriet Alexander New York

An Ohio man angry with his girlfriend shot dead a pensioner who happened to be passing by, later posting a video of the incident on Facebook.

Steve Stephens (37) filmed himself walking down a street in Cleveland, talking to himself about his girlfriend, Joy Lane.

The health worker happened to cross paths with 74-year-old Robert Godwin and pulled out a gun, filming himself shooting the father of nine in the head, before driving away.

Stephens posted further messages about Ms Lane on Facebook, calling her "the love of my life" and alluding to a gambling problem that meant "losing everything". "She's the reason why what's happened today," he said.

Facebook removed the video three hours later, and yesterday was facing criticism that it did not take the footage down sooner.

Cleveland police admitted that they had spoken to Stephens by mobile telephone shortly after the murder, only to lose his location.

Calvin Williams, the Cleveland police chief, said: "They tried to convince him to turn himself in," he said. "We don't know his condition, and we don't know his location."

He continued: "We know Steve is out there some place. We are asking the public to remain vigilant. Go about your day, but be careful. If you see anything, give us a call.

"So far there has been one fatality, and we want to keep it that way. We are asking Steve to turn himself in, but if he doesn't, we'll find him."

Police in five states - Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana and Michigan - were last night searching for the killer.

Stephens's mother, Maggie Green, said her son was "mad with his girlfriend" and urged him to hand himself in.

Stephens had no criminal record, although he did have several traffic violations, police said.

Ms Lane confirmed that they had been in a relationship for several years, and sent her condolences to the Godwin family. "My heart and prayers go out to the family members of the victim," she said.

"Steve really is a nice guy... he is generous with everyone he knows. He was kind and loving to me and my children. This is a very difficult time for me and my family."

Stephens had promised to "keep killing until they catch me". In a series of posts on Sunday, on what authorities said was Stephens's Facebook page, he named specific people that he wanted to talk to, including his mother.

Stephens called it his "Easter Day slaughter" and boasted of having killed 15 people - although police are yet to link any further murders to the killer of Mr Godwin.

Mr Godwin's family gave distraught interviews to local media, with one relative only able to repeat: "It feels like my heart is going to stop."

One of Mr Godwin's sons, Robert Godwin Jr, said his father was "a good guy".

"He would give you the shirt off his back," he said. "I'm not just saying that for these families. This man, right here, was a good man and I hate that he's gone."

A reward of $50,000 was last night being offered for information regarding Stephens' location, investigating officials said. (© Daily Telegraph London)

Irish Independent

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