‘Facebook killer’ Steve Stephens found dead after car chase

Media captionPolice chief: Search for Steve Stephens has ended

Police say a man suspected of randomly shooting a grandfather on an Ohio street and posting video of the killing to Facebook has taken his own life.

Steve Stephens’ car was spotted on Tuesday morning outside a McDonald’s in the city of Erie, Pennsylvania.

Police gave chase and the suspect’s vehicle stopped before he turned the gun on himself, said officials.

Stephens, 37, shot dead Robert Godwin, 74, as the victim walked home from Easter lunch on Sunday in Cleveland.

The fugitive’s mobile phone signal was last tracked on Sunday afternoon to Erie, Pennsylvania, 100 miles (160km) from where Mr Godwin was gunned down.

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Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson told a news conference: “We have closure in regards to the search for Steve Stephens.”

Media captionThe suspect said he was looking for victims in a video posted on Facebook

City police chief Calvin Williams told reporters that Pennsylvania State Police received a tip-off shortly after 11:00 on Tuesday.

The suspect’s white Ford Fusion car had been spotted in the car park of a McDonald’s in Erie, he said.

Mr Williams said there was a brief police chase after which the suspect’s car stopped.

Stephens took his own life with his gun as officers approached his vehicle, and was pronounced dead at the scene, added the police chief.

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Mr Godwin appears to attempt to shield himself with a plastic bag

But investigators said they were still baffled as to what motivated Stephens – who worked as a case manager for a children’s mental health organisation – to murder.

Mr Williams said: “We would like to have brought Steve in peacefully and really talk to him to find out exactly why this happened… find out why he did what he did and what drove him to this.”

Stephens had been added to the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List as the manhunt was extended from five US states to nationwide.

Police said earlier on Tuesday that authorities had received more than 400 tips, including as far away as Texas.

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Stephens said he was driven to kill by a broken-down relationship with an ex-girlfriend, Joy Lane, gambling debts and other grudges

In other Facebook videos Stephens posted on the day of Mr Godwin’s killing, the suspect said he had “just snapped”, citing gambling debts, a broken-down relationship and a litany of grudges.

The family of Mr Godwin – a father of 10 and grandfather of 14 – said on Monday they forgave the suspected killer.

His daughter, Tonya Godwin-Baines, had urged Stephens to surrender.

“Each one of us forgives the killer, the murderer,” she told Cleveland TV station WJW. “We want to wrap our arms around him.”

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Steve Stephens claimed to have killed more than a dozen others

“I forgive you and love you, but most importantly, God loves you. God can heal your mind and save your soul.”

The victim’s son, Robert Godwin Jr, said: “Steve, I forgive you… I’m not happy what you did, but I forgive you.”

Cleveland officials had announced a reward of up to $50,000 (£39,000) for information leading to the suspect’s arrest.

Facebook has launched a review of its procedures after criticism that the footage stayed on the site for hours.

Justin Osofsky, Facebook’s vice-president of global operations, said the first complaint made about the video showing the killing came nearly two hours after it was posted.

But he added: “We know we need to do better.”

‘Facebook killer’ Steve Stephens found dead after car chase

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