A GoFundMe account that was set up in memory of Robert Godwin Sr., the 74-year-old Cleveland man whose murder was posted on Facebook by Steve ‘Stevie Steve’ Stephens, has raised over $57,000 that will go into the family’s bank account. Although the family and police told people not to donate to any GoFundMe account earlier Monday, the company spoke with the family and will make sure that the money will go directly to them.
In the hours after Godwin’s death, there were over two dozen fake GoFundMe accounts set up. In a statement posted on Twitter, his daughter, Debbie D. Godwin, wrote that GoFundMe accounts and fundraisers have been set up “fraudulently” and asked that they stop. FOX8 also reports that another daughter, Tonya Godwin-Baines, told authorities about at least 35 GoFundMe accounts created without the family’s support.
Debbie D. Godwin also wrote on Facebook that the family has no plans to start a GoFundMe account for their father. “If you are ask[ed] to donate to a GoFundMe account, please know it is not us,” Debbie D. Godwin wrote.
One GoFundMe account, set up by Wesley Davis of Phoenix, raised over $57,000. This one has since been vetted by GoFundMe, which will make sure the family receives the money. “I am working with GoFundMe to make contact with the family as we speak. GoFundMe will ensure all funds are directly deposited into the victims’ bank account,” Davis wrote.
“I cannot imagine the pain his family is going through right now,” Davis wrote on GoFundMe. “I am just a kid from Arizona who unfortunately saw this video on Facebook and wanted to help. Take initiative. I’ll post photos of me delivering the help. I know this won’t bring their loved one back but it’s the least we can do. I hope they find peace.”
In a statement to Heavy.com, GoFundMe also said, “This campaign has been vetted by GoFundMe and they are working with the campaign organizer to ensure all funds go directly to Robert’s family.” Heavy.com later confirmed with GoFundMe that the company spoke with the family minutes after a police press conference. Here is the statement we received from a GoFundMe spokesperson:
We have spoken with the family specifically about this GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/help-for-cleveland-victim-family . It’s not uncommon for someone to create a GoFundMe to help another individual after a news report. We have spoken with the GoFundMe campaign organizer and members of the family, as well as local authorities. We’ll guarantee the money will be deposited directly into the family’s bank account.
Davis has also posted a screenshot of an email he received from GoFundMe, which says that they did contact a member of the Godwin family. Davis also briefly changed the header image of the GoFundMe account to this letter.
In an interview with 12News in Arizona, Davis insisted that he’s not trying to scam anyone. He said he doesn’t have a connection with the family. “I just felt so badly for this family,” Davis said.
Godwin’s murder was seen in a video posted to Facebook by Stephens after Godwin was killed on Easter Sunday. In his video, Stephens claimed he killed others, but police say there is no evidence to support this claim. In the shocking video, Stephens was seen driving up to Godwin and saying, “Found me somebody I’m going to kill, this guy right here, this old dude.” He asks Godwin how old he is before shooting the man in the head.
Stephens was on the run for two days, but was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Erie, Pennsylvania. His death was confirmed by the Pennsylvania State Police. He was wanted on aggravated murder.
Godwin had 10 children and had 14 grandchildren. “He hugged my wife and me and said ‘I’ll see you guys next time,'” his son, Robert Godwin Jr. told Cleveland.com of the last time he saw his father. “I said ‘OK, enjoy your Easter.'”