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Posted: April 18, 2017

McDonald’s staff recognized, stalled ‘Facebook killer’ so cops could catch him, manager says


By Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

ERIE, Penn. —

Moments before shooting and killing himself during a police chase, accused “Facebook killer” Steve Stephens got hungry.

Stephens, 37, of Cleveland, Ohio, went through a McDonald’s drive-thru in Erie, Pennsylvania, where a 20-piece order of McNuggets and some fries proved to be his undoing, Cleveland 19 News reported

Henry Sayers, a manager at the McDonald’s where Stephens ordered his last meal, told the news station that Stephens appeared to be just another customer -- until an alert employee recognized him from TV news bulletins about the nationwide manhunt for the accused killer. Sayers said he and his employees were not 100 percent sure the man was Stephens, but that they knew the wanted man might be in the area because police had traced a “ping” from his cellphone to the Erie area. 

Employees tried to stall Stephens, saying they were waiting on his fries to cook, while the drive-thru worker who recognized him called 911, Cleveland 19 News reported

Stephens, who may have sensed that he had been recognized, told them he was in a hurry.

“I am pretty sure he figured out that we were on to him,” Thomas DuCharme Jr., owner of the McDonald’s, told GoErie.com. “He didn’t want to wait for his fries.”

Sayers told Cleveland 19 News that Stephens drove off without the fries, taking a right onto the street in front of the restaurant. State police troopers pulled in behind him, lights flashing, and the chase began. 

It ended about two miles later, when troopers attempted a PIT maneuver to stop the Ford Focus that Stephens was driving, according to the Pennsylvania State Police

“As the vehicle was spinning out of control from the PIT maneuver, Stephens pulled a pistol and shot himself in the head,” troopers said in a news release. 

Stephens was pronounced dead at the scene. According to GoErie.com, the grounds of a nearby former elementary school were blocked off after the shooting and crash. 

Officials were not immediately clear on what brought Stephens to Erie. 

Facebook via AP
Cleveland, Ohio, police are warning of GoFundMe scams taking advantage of those wanting to donate to the family of Robert Godwin Sr., who was fatally shot by murder suspect Steve Stephens. (Facebook via AP)

Stephens was on the run following the on-camera Easter Sunday slaying of an elderly stranger, footage of which Stephens posted on Facebook. In the video, which was removed from the social media network a few hours after the killing, the man behind the camera could be heard saying that he had found someone to kill. 

“Found me somebody I’m about to kill,” said the man, who police identified as Stephens. “I’m going to kill this guy right here. He’s an old dude, too.”

He approached Robert Godwin Sr., 74, as he walked on a sidewalk and asked him for a favor. He asked Godwin to say the name Joy Lane, repeating it when Godwin did not seem to understand him the first time. 

“She’s the reason why this is about to happen to you,” Stephens told Godwin, asking how old he was. 

“Aw man, look, I don’t know nobody by that name,” Godwin told Stephens as Stephens lifted the gun, which could be seen in the video frame. As the older man tried to shield himself with a plastic bag he was carrying, Stephens shot him once in the head.

Godwin fell to the sidewalk, where Stephens left him bleeding. After the shooting, Stephens spoke aloud in a message to Lane, telling her that the (expletive) was dead because of her. 

Lane issued a statement to CBS News following the shooting: 

“We had been in a relationship for several years,” Lane wrote. “I am sorry that all of this has happened. My heart and prayers goes out to the family members of the victim(s). 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. Please respect our privacy at this time.”

>> Read more trending stories

In another video Stephens posted online, he said that Lane, along with job stress and his mother, were the reasons he wanted to “try to kill as many people as he (could).”

Stephens worked for Beech Brook, a behavioral health agency. In the second video, he sat in his car outside Lane’s workplace and talked about the issues that he said caused him to lose everything. 

“People will come to me with their problems. I’m a case manager at Beech Brook. I deal with people’s problems every day, but when it comes to my (expletive), nobody gives a (expletive). It’s like I’m always the bad guy.”

He said he tried the day before to tell his mother he was suicidal and wanted to kill people, but that she “didn’t care.”

He also claimed in the video that he had killed before, but law enforcement officials have not been able to corroborate those claims. 


Related

FACEBOOK KILLING: STEVE STEPHENS FOUND DEAD

A man who police say filmed himself shooting an elderly stranger before posting the footage on social media Sunday afternoon has been found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

>> Who is Steve Stephens, suspect in Cleveland Facebook killing?

>> Who was Robert Godwin Sr., Cleveland man killed in Facebook video?

>> Read more trending news

Cleveland police said Steve Stephens shared a video of the fatal shooting on Facebook.

Authorities found Stephens in Erie, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday morning, about 100 miles northeast of Cleveland.

Pennsylvania State Police said officers spotted Stephens and initiated a pursuit in Erie County. A short while later, he shot and killed himself, police said.

Who is Steve Stephens, suspect in Cleveland Facebook killing?

A search is underway for a man suspected of shooting and killing an elderly man, then sharing a video of the slaying on Facebook.

>> Cleveland Facebook killing: What we know now

Police in Cleveland, Ohio, have issued an aggravated murder warrant for 37-year-old Steve Stephens, who is accused of fatally shooting 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. on Sunday in Cleveland.

Here's what we know about Stephens:

Description: Police described Stephens as a 6-foot-1, 244-pound black man with a bald head and full beard. He was last seen wearing a dark-striped polo shirt and driving a white, newer-model Ford Fusion with Ohio temporary tag E363630. Read more here.

The video: Stephens recorded himself as the shooting unfolded, police said. The video shows the point-of-view of the shooter as he gets out of a vehicle and approaches an elderly man, later identified as Godwin, walking down the sidewalk carrying a plastic shopping bag.

>> Who was Robert Godwin Sr., Cleveland man killed in Facebook video?

The shooter says a woman’s name and asks Godwin to repeat it. 

“She’s the reason that this is about to happen to you,” the shooter says.

The video then shows a handgun firing.

The victim can be seen lying motionless and bloody on the pavement before the suspect returns to the vehicle. 

Other claims of crimes: In another video, Stephens claimed to have killed more than a dozen other people, but police said they have not found evidence of any other victims.

>> Read more trending news

Whereabouts: The Dayton Daily News reports that Stephens was last seen south of Interstate 90 in the area of East 93rd in Cleveland.

Police say Stephens, who is considered armed and dangerous, may have left the state and are urging Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana and Michigan residents to be on the lookout. Anyone with information should call 911.

WOIO-TV reports that Stephens' most recent documented address was in Euclid, Ohio. 

Employment: Stephens worked for a behavioral health agency, according to the Dayton Daily News.

A spokeswoman for Beech Brook, Stephens’ employer, said workers there are “shocked and horrified.”

"We hope and pray that he is arrested as soon as possible, and we hope and pray for a resolution quickly,” Nancy Kortemeyer told WOIO.

  Facebook killing: What we know now
  Who was Robert Godwin Sr., Cleveland man killed in Facebook video?
 

Who was Robert Godwin Sr., Cleveland man killed in Facebook video?

The elderly man who was shot and killed Sunday in a Facebook video has been identified.

Police said late Sunday that Steve Stephens shot and killed 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. in Cleveland. In the video, Stephens reportedly said a woman’s name and asked Godwin to repeat it. “She’s the reason that this is about to happen to you,” he said as the older man tried to shield himself with a shopping bag.

>> Cleveland Facebook killing: What we know now

Police have issued an aggravated murder warrant for Stephens, who is still at large. He is described as a bald man with a full beard, 6-foot-1 and 244 pounds. Anyone with information is urged to call 911.

Shanice Dunning, a reporter with WOIO-TV, spoke with Godwin’s family members earlier in the day, and they were distraught.

>> Read more trending news

They described Godwin as “a good guy” who would “give you the shirt off his back."

“This man right here was a good man. ... It’s not real," said Godwin's son, Robert Godwin Jr.

“I feel like my heart is going to stop,” a woman, who wasn't identified, added in the video posted to Twitter.

Godwin's family said he spent Easter morning fishing.

>> See the post here

Pictures of Godwin have since circulated on social media.

According to Cleveland.com, Godwin Jr. said he last saw his father Sunday morning when he came by to pick up basketball equipment for one of his other sons.

>> Who is Steve Stephens, suspect in Cleveland Facebook killing?

“He hugged my wife and me and said, ‘I’ll see you guys next time,'” Godwin Jr. said. “I said ‘OK, enjoy your Easter.'”

Godwin, a retired foundry worker, is survived by nine children, 14 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren.

– Cox Media Group Ohio contributed to this report.

  Facebook killing: What we know now
  Who is Steve Stephens, suspect in Cleveland Facebook killing?
 
Alleged Facebook killer worked with young people for years at Ohio health agency 

AP

Alleged Facebook killer worked with young people for years at Ohio health agency 

The suspect in the random Facebook shooting death of an elderly Cleveland man over the weekend worked with young people for years at a behavioral health agency in Pepper Pike, before disappearing Sunday afternoon.

Steve Stephens had worked at Beech Brook since 2008, most recently as a vocational specialist for the agency’s Assertive Community Treatment team for youth and young adults, the company said in a statement on social media.

>> Read more trending news

Stephens took the position in April of 2015, after working as a youth mentor at Beech Brook.

He helped mentor young people on career opportunities and preparing themselves for work, Beech Brook’s Marketing and Public Relations Director, Nancy Kortemeyer told Cleveland.com.

Founded in 1852, the agency works with families, troubled children and young adults and provides a range of services, including prevention and intervention programs, mentoring, school-based mental health services, out-patient therapy and group living.

>> Related: Police warn of GoFundMe scams after Cleveland Facebook Killing

Beech Brook employs some 200 workers and decided to close its two locations on Monday as a precaution, “out of concerns for the safety of our staff, clients and other visitors to our sites,” the agency said on social media.

Police are still searching for Stephens, who mentioned his job during one of three broadcasts on Facebook Sunday.

Police warn of GoFundMe scams after Cleveland Facebook killing

Police in Cleveland, Ohio, are warning the public about online fundraising scams targeting those who want to donate to the family of Robert Godwin Sr., who was killed Sunday and whose death was seen in a video posted on Facebook.

>> Read more trending news

Police said Steve Stephens, 37, posted video of the shooting and boasted about killing others.

Cleveland.com reported that police Chief Calvin Williams said a number of pages on the fundraising website GoFundMe have surfaced that were not approved by Godwin’s family.

Related: Cleveland Facebook killing: What we know now

A GoFundMe spokesman told Cleveland.com that only one page has been verified by the family. The page is called Help for Cleveland victim & family and has raised more than $27,000 of its $20,000 goal.

Related: Who was Robert Godwin Sr., Cleveland man killed in Facebook video?

Godwin, 74, was a retired foundry worker and was widely regarded as a “good guy” by his family.

Authorities are still searching for Stephens and said they have not found other victims, despite Stephens boasting about killing more than a dozen people.

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