Steve Stephens the suspect in the killing of a senior citizen who posted the slaying on Facebook, is dead after being spotted by police in Western Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania State Police tweeted Tuesday.
Steve Stephens was spotted this morning by PSP members in Erie County. After a brief pursuit, Stephens shot and killed himself.
— PA State Police (@PAStatePolice) April 18, 2017
At a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams Police said that police received a tip that his white 2016 Ford Fusion had been seen around 11 a.m., in a McDonald’s parking lot near Erie, Pa., about 100 miles from Cleveland. Police began to follow the vehicle, but it stopped and the two vehicles bumped. As police approached, a shot rang out and officers found him dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
There was no shootout and no other injuries were reported. It is unclear why Stephens was in Erie in particular. The town is about an hour and 40 minute drive directly from Cleveland via I-90. Pittsburgh lies 127 miles south and Buffalo, N.Y., is 93 miles east.
Stevens, 37, had been on the run since Sunday after the gruesome killing of Robert Godwin Sr., 74, and there had been no clues as to his whereabouts. But his cellphone signal had pinged off a tower in Erie.
Stephens shot Godwin at point blank range on a sidewalk on Cleveland’s East Side, all while recording it. The video stayed on Facebook for a short time before it was removed. His account was also deactivated. Godwin was a random victim and did not know Stephens or his girlfriend, who Stephens referred to when he shot Godwin.
In a second video posted to Facebook, Stephens complained of having a gambling problem, which he in turn blamed on problems with his estranged girlfriend. “I lost everything. I lost everything I have. I don’t have [expletive]. I’m out of options.”
The girlfriend, Joy Lane, told CBS News in a text message that the two had dated for several years. She was placed in protective custody and said to be cooperating with police.
A warrant was issued charging Stephens with aggravated murder and police are trying to find the car he was driving, which he purchased earlier this month. Williams said that police had spoken to Stephens at some point on Sunday, but he turned his phone off, making it more difficult for law enforcement to track him.
“We would like to have brought Steve in peacefully and really talk to him about why this happened,” said Williams.
Although the search for Stephens has ended, Williams said the investigation will continue. What is still not known is if he was hidden out, or if anyone was helping him to avoid police. He said there were a lot of places in the area to hide out as the Erie area is rural. He said he still anticipates speaking with law enforcement officials there.
Godwin’s daughter, Debbie told The Associated Press she would have preferred that Stephens had remained alive and face prison time for the Sunday shooting of 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. She says: “If you did it, you have to face your crime.”