The gruesome murder of 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. in Cleveland has people all over the country on high alert. There is currently a nationwide manhunt underway for Steve Stephens, who was last seen in Cleveland on the afternoon of Sunday, April 16. Stephens is accused of gunning down Godwin at random and posting the killing on Facebook.
Earlier today, Cleveland Police said that Stephens could be in New York, Michigan, Indiana or Pennsylvania. Then later in an afternoon press briefing, it was said that the search is now covering the entire country. Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said it is now a national search.
During the briefing, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said there is a $50,000 reward for the arrest of Steve Stephens. The reward money comes from the FBI and ATF.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said they are still encouraging Stephens to turn himself in or to call a relative or friend. Williams said they would like to get the situation resolved as quickly as possible because the victim’s family deserves it as does the community.
The Cleveland community has set up several GoFundMe accounts for the family and also a makeshift memorial near where the fatal shooting of Robert Godwin Sr. took place.
There was a scare near Philadelphia this afternoon as several 911 calls came in reporting the possibility that Steve Stephens was in Fairmount Park. WTXF in Philly stated that the reports originated on social media but there was no actual sighting of Stephens in the park. Still, police were dispatched and nine schools in the area were put on lockdown.
Steve Stephens is described by authorities as a bald, 6-foot-1-inch black man weighing approximately 240 pounds. He is 37-years-old and at the time of the shooting was wearing a dark blue and gray or black striped polo shirt. The suspect is driving a white Ford Fusion with an Ohio temporary tag, E363630, and police believe he is still in possession of the vehicle.
The motive for the killing is not yet known and won’t be until police get to speak with Stephens. From what he posted on Facebook, it seems that he was upset with his longtime girlfriend Joy Lane. Before Stephens pulled the trigger on Godwin Sr., he asked the man to say her name. You can hear in the video that Stephens also told Godwin, “Joy Lane – She’s the reason this is about to happen to you.”
Joy Lane has been in protective custody since the shooting occurred and is being fully cooperative with authorities. Today, she texted the following message to CBS News.
“We had been in a relationship for several years. I am sorry that all of this has happened. My heart & prayers goes out to the family members of the victim(s). Steve really is a nice guy…he is generous with everyone he knows. He was kind and loving to me and my children. This is a very difficult time for me and my family Please respect our privacy at this time.”
Stephens’ mother, Maggie Green, said she spoke with her son on Sunday when he stopped by her house. Green told CNN that he told her that if she sees him again, it will “be a miracle.” The mother knew that Stephens was upset with his girlfriend, but had no idea of the magnitude of the situation. Green is also cooperating with the police and is trying to help out in any way possible.
As the nationwide manhunt continues, authorities are encouraging the public to call in any tips that they might have. The police are following up and looking into all leads until Stephens is caught. They are hoping that the reward money will encourage people to speak up if they have any information on the suspect’s whereabouts.
[Featured Image by Matt Rourke/AP Images]