Today, Cleveland area police will continue their manhunt for Steve Stephens. Stephens is being accused of filming himself murdering an elderly man and uploading the video to Facebook. In the video on his Facebook page, which has since been taken down, Stephens brags about murdering the elderly man, as well as committing other homicides.
A warrant for aggravated murder was issued for Stephens’ arrest, and on early Monday law enforcement said they believe he may have fled Ohio. According to NBC News, the FBI is providing assistance to Cleveland police. The 37-year-old man is considered armed and dangerous.
Police first reported Sunday that Stephens committed the murder while broadcasting on Facebook Live, but a spokesperson representing the social media site said the video was recorded then uploaded to Facebook later. Stephens’ claims of committing several other homicides have yet to be verified. Police say there are currently no other reported victims, “There are no other victims that we know of,” Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said at a news conference.
Law enforcement believes the killing of the one confirmed victim, Robert Godwin, 74, appeared to be random. “It’s senseless,” Williams said. However, in a video posted on Worldstarhiphop, he explains why he is murdering innocent victims and he blames it on his ex-girlfriend and mother. Stephens’ girlfriend has been taken into protective custody and is cooperating with Cleveland police. Stephens, reportedly a member of Omega Psi Phi, says he plans to kill more random people and then he will start shooting “Greeks.”
Warning video contains graphic language.
In a post on his Facebook page, Stephens said “I killed 12 people today” and said he would not stop until he spoke with his mother and a second woman. Later he posted – “I killed 15 today because of [the second woman].” He referred to it as his “Easter day slaughter.” Stephens’ whereabouts are completely unknown. After committing a murder around 2 p.m., there had been no official sighting of him. Police in Ohio issued statewide alerts and Gov. John Kasich promised the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s help. NBC News archived the account before it was removed.
Law enforcement describes Stephens as black, 6 feet, 1 inch tall, weighing 244 pounds and bald with a full beard. He was last seen wearing a black or dark blue and gray striped polo shirt and was driving a white Ford Fusion with temporary tags, authorities said.
Cleveland officials are expected to hold a news conference later this morning to give an update on the situation. The conference is expected to begin at 9 a.m. in the Mayor’s Red Room at City Hall. cleveland.com will cover the event. The conference is expected to be live streamed on their Facebook page at 9 a.m.
Since Stephens committed the murder with planned, evil intent, it is likely that he will be charged with aggravated murder. In Ohio, aggravated murder is the most serious type of homicide because it was planned and done on purpose. A person commits felony murder if any death (even an accidental one) results from the commission of certain violent felonies — such as arson, burglary, kidnapping, rape, and robbery.
Penalties for first degree or “aggravated” murder in Ohio include capital punishment and life imprisonment without possibility of parole. However, if Stephens did flee the state he could face even more punishment at the hands of the FBI.
Citizens are encouraged to call 9-1-1 should they see him or his car.
In the meantime, the family of Mr. Godwin has found peace in the midst of this tragedy: