Wed, Apr 19, 2017 - Page 7 News List

Videos indicate desperation of Ohio shooting suspect

‘SHOCKING’:A friend of Steve Stephens said that the fugitive was respectful, got along with everybody and never spoke about any problems, ‘always good things’


The suspect in the killing of a retiree posted on Facebook made his living mentoring teenagers in Cleveland, Ohio, but his life appeared to be unraveling under the weight of gambling debts and trouble with his girlfriend.

Videos he shared indicated his despair, saying he was out of options and wanted to kill as many innocent people as he could.

While authorities have not found any evidence that he killed anyone else, the hunt for Steve Stephens stretched into a third day yesterday and far beyond the neighborhood where police said he shot a 74-year-old man who was picking up aluminum cans on Sunday after spending Easter with some of his children.

Stephens, 37, could be anywhere, authorities said, calling it a nationwide search.

A US$50,000 reward is being offered for information leading to his capture and prosecution.

Stephens posted a video of himself killing Robert Godwin Sr, a former foundry worker who had 10 children, police said.

In it, he said: “I snapped, I just snapped.”

Police would not speculate on a motive.

In the video, Stephens told Godwin a woman’s name and said: “She’s the reason that this is about to happen to you.”

Godwin did not seem to recognize the name.

The woman Stephens spoke of, Joy Lane, said in a text message to CBS that “we had been in a relationship for several years. I am sorry that all of this has happened.”

She also said Stephens was “a nice guy” who was good to her and her children.

Stephens filed for bankruptcy two years ago, despite holding down a job as a counselor helping young people develop job skills and find employment.

The behavioral health agency where he worked said an extensive background check before he was hired turned up nothing worrisome.

In one video posted on Facebook, Stephens said that he gambled away everything and that he and his girlfriend had planned to marry, but did not, without saying why.

He blamed her for what was about to happen.

Some friends said they knew about his gambling, but the videos showed characteristics they did not recognize.

Alexis Lee, who saw Stephens last week, said his childhood friend always seemed respectful and got along with everybody.

“He never ever told me he had problems or issues. It was always good things,” Lee said. “He was always just so happy and cool, calm, collected, like, that’s why it’s so shocking.”

Other neighbors said he was quiet as a kid and intelligent, recalling how he went to college and got a master’s degree.

“He was just a no problem person at all, compared to a lot of people,” said Cynthia Coley, a former neighbor.

In one video in which he blamed his girlfriend, Stephens said he woke up last week and “couldn’t take it anymore.”

Investigators said that Godwin was the only victim so far linked to Stephens, despite his claim on Facebook that he killed more than a dozen people.

On Monday evening, Facebook announced that it was launching a review for reporting harmful content following the killing.

The company said it disabled Stephen’s account within 23 minutes of receiving the first report about the video of the fatal shooting and two hours after receiving any report.

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