On Easter Sunday, a man known as Steve “Stevie Steve” Stephens shot and killed a man walking down a Cleveland street. Later that afternoon, Cleveland police identified the victim as 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. (though a typo in the original police announcement mistakenly gave his name as “Robert Goodwin”). Here’s what we know about Godwin:
1. His Murder was Broadcast in a Horrifying Facebook Video
Stephens murdered Godwin around 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon (Cleveland time), and posted the video to Facebook, where it remained for about three hours before Facebook took down the video and Stephens’ entire page. Police initially said the video was posted to Facebook Live, but later that night Facebook released a statement saying the video uploaded later.
In the video, Stephens can be heard asking “Can you do me a favor? Can you say [his girlfriend’s name]?”
Godwin, obviously confused by this non sequitur from a stranger, repeated the name in a questioning tone of voice. “Yeah,” Stephens said. “She’s the reason this is about to happen to you. How old are you?”
A clearly perplexed Godwin started to walk away, while exclaiming “I don’t know nobody by that name!” Those were the last words he ever spoke.
2. He Had Nine Children and 14 Grandchildren
Shortly after the manhunt for Stephens made the national news, but before Godwin’s name had been released to the public, Cleveland19 News reported Sharice Dunning posted a video interview with a man and a woman who said the still-unnamed murder victim was their father.
“He’d give you the shirt off his back,” said the heartbroken man in the video. “I’m not just saying that for these cameras … this man right here was a good man. And I just hate that he’s gone.” A reporter for WKYC Channel 3 news later said that, according to his family, Godwin had spent the morning fishing.
Also on Twitter, a man named Ryan Godwin identified himself as Robert’s grandson and pleaded with people to stop retweeting the Facebook video. “Please please please stop retweeting that video and report anyone who has posted it! That is my grandfather show some respect #Cleveland”
Cleveland.com reported that Godwin’s son, Robert Godwin Jr., said his father was a retired foundry worker who had nine children, 14 grandchildren and multiple great-grandchildren. His father often collected aluminum cans for recycling, and when he went out for walks he carried a shopping bag in case he found any. He was out looking for cans when Stephens approached him on Easter afternoon.
Robert Godwin, Jr. last saw his father on Sunday morning, when his father came by the house to pick up some basketball equipment for another of his sons.
A GoFundMe account to help Godwin’s family has been set up here. GoFundMe has confirmed to Heavy that the funds will benefit Godwin’s family.
3. Police Confirmed There was no Connection Between Godwin and his Murderer
In a Sunday press conference shortly after the manhunt began. Cleveland police chief Calvin Williams said there was no apparent connection between Godwin and his killer; Stephens chose his victim at random for a “senseless” killing.
“There was no need for this gentleman to lose his life,” Williams said. “If [Stephens] needs some help, which obviously he does, he needs to call someone, he needs to turn himself in so he can get the help he needs. He can’t keep victimizing this community based on his issues.
Williams also called for Stephens to turn himself in. “I know, Steve, that you have a relationship with some of our clergy in Northeast Ohio. I encourage you to give them a call and then call us and turn yourself in.”
4. His Murderer Claims to Have Killed 15 Other People
In a post on his now-deleted Facebook page, Steve Stephens claimed that in addition to the still-unnamed Godwin, he had killed 12 other people that day in what he called an “Easter day slaughter.” Shortly thereafter, Stephens made another Facebook post claiming to have killed three additional people.
However, Cleveland police said Godwin’s homicide was the only one they could confirm; no other murders have been connected to Stephens. Police chief Calvin Williams said, “So far there are no more victims that we know that are tied to Steve and this incident. But we are still encouraging people that if you have information on Steve’s whereabouts or any other victims that may be out there, to definitely give us a call. Just call 911.”
A YouTube channel apparently belonging to Stephens was last updated in August 2016. None of those videos indicated any propensity for violence on Stephens’ part; all of them dealt with either Cleveland’s basketball team, or Stephens’ fondness for fishing and bowling.
5. Police and the FBI are Still Searching for Godwin’s Killer
Cleveland.com reported Sunday evening that Stephens’ girlfriend, the woman whose name Stephens asked Godwin to say, is fully cooperating with the police manhunt for the killer. Police took her into protective custody earlier that afternoon.
The FBI’s Cleveland field office, as well as the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, have also joined in the search. Reporters on the ground noted a heavier-than-usual police presence, with police helicopters hovering over the area.
Police say Stephens is believed to be driving a white Ford Fusion with Ohio temporary tags numbered E363630 (though he may have switched license plates), and wearing a dark blue polo shirt with gray or black stripes. Stephens is described as being six-foot-one, 244 pounds, with a bald head and full beard. He is considered armed and dangerous; anyone who sees him should not attempt to apprehend him, but call police at once.
This is a breaking news story; this post will be updated as events warrant.
Read more about Steve Stephens and Robert Godwin in Spanish at AhoraMismo.com: