Steve Stephens’ face and vehicle information were plastered across the nation. He was known as the “Cleveland Facebook Killer.”
The presence of his photo and white Ford Fusion circulating on social media played a significant role in raising awareness for people to be on the lookout for Stephens. He was wanted for killing 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. in Cleveland.
Morbidly, Stephens recorded the murder. He later uploaded the video to Facebook.
The FBI and Cleveland Police issued a nationwide search for the man who was considered armed and highly dangerous. Stephens posted disturbing statuses on Facebook claiming to have killed “12 people today,” and then, “I killed 15 today.”
A $50,000 reward for information leading to his location was offered by the FBI, because the stakes were so high in this particular manhunt. Stephens’ apparent random killings, with no prior criminal record, made his capture only more urgent as his behavior had been completely unpredictable so far.
Stephens ended up being closer to Cleveland than many had guessed. The fact that he never ditched the white Ford Fusion, got rid of his cell phone, or traveled further than 100 miles away from his last known location showed a lack of planning in attempts to remain hidden.
In fact, he was doing a surprisingly ordinary action in public when, thankfully, he was recognized. Stephens was apparently hungry, so he pulled into an Erie, Pennsylvania, McDonald’s drive-thru.
He ordered a large French fries and a 20-piece Chicken McNuggets. A McDonald’s employee was ready to take payment for the order when chills must have run down her spine; she realized the man in the car was wanted for murder.
She informed her supervisor, and 911 was called immediately. In order to stall Stephens, he was given his McNuggets but told that the fries were not ready yet.
Eventually, it seemed as though Stephens grew suspicious of the wait time and told the worker that he had to go. As he casually pulled out of the drive-thru, the police began their chase.
Under two miles into the chase, a state trooper performed the PIT maneuver, a precision immobilization technique, in efforts to make Stephens’ car spin out of control. Stephens shot himself once his car came to a stop.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams had wished Stephens would have been found alive, affording law officers the opportunity to discuss his actions while avoiding suicide. However, he along with many, are thankful for closure.
The McDonald’s employees handled the situation extremely well. They stayed calm, tried to keep Stephens in the location as long as possible, and contacted the authorities right away.
Though Robert Godwin Sr.’s family lost their loved one, may they find peace through the forgiveness they have already offered as well as their strong faith in God.