The nationwide manhunt for Steve Stephens, the “Facebook Live killer,” ended in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, with the murder suspect taking his own life after a brief police chase. But before he killed himself and before the pursuit began, Stephens stopped at a McDonald’s drive-thru for some McNuggets and fries.
This was the misstep that ended a two-day escapade that began on Sunday in Cleveland, where the “Facebook killer,” 37, shot and killed 74-year-old Robert Godwin, Sr., a complete stranger, in broad daylight. Stephens videotaped the random killing and later posted it to Facebook. The video, which remained on the social network for about two hours before it was removed, sparked a nationwide search for Stephens, who was quickly dubbed the “Facebook killer.”
At around noon on Tuesday, Stephens pulled up to a drive-thru window at a McDonald’s outside of Erie, Pennsylvania. As he sat in his white Ford Fusion, now more than 100 miles from where he killed Godwin, an alert attendee recognized him as the “Facebook killer” and dialed 911.
According to the Associated Press, Stephens drove up and asked for a 20-piece Chicken McNuggets and a basket of french fries. The McDonald’s attendant who took his money recognized that it was him and called the cops. When Steve Stephens pulled up to the next window to get his order, restaurant owner Thomas DuCharme, Jr. and a store supervisor tried to stall him by saying that his order of fries would be delayed.
“We told him we were waiting on his fries for a minute just to buy some time for the cops if it actually was him,” DuCharme, Jr. said.
“He said he had no time to wait, he had to go. At that point he took his Chicken McNuggets and left.”
Steve Stephens reportedly sped out of the drive-thru, nearly colliding with Gail Wheeler, who was on her way home from the grocery store.
But the cops were already in pursuit.
“Two seconds later, I hear these sirens, and they come whipping past me,” Wheeler told AP.
According to the witness, she followed the police cars for about a couple of miles. She said it wasn’t long before the road narrowed and the brief chase slowed down. One of the troopers in pursuit hit Steve Stephens’ bumper, causing his car to come to an abrupt stop. Police immediately rushed out and were about to approach the suspect’s car when a shot rang out.
“I heard a shot,” the witness recounted.
“It was loud and distinctive.”
“The next thing I know, they’re approaching the car. The one officer just shook his head. He was closest to the car. …They had their guns out but when he shook his head, they lowered their guns.”
According to Inside Edition, police radio dispatches reveal that Pennsylvania State Police were in pursuit when Steve Stephens decided to kill himself.
“Looks like there’s one guy down in the white car,” one voice says.
“He was in pursuit of the homicide suspect,” another reported.
“I believe he shot himself.”
On Sunday, a ping from Steve’s phone was detected in Erie, putting authorities and citizens there on high alert.
“A little after 11 today, Pennsylvania State Police officers received a tip that the vehicle that we were looking for was in a McDonald’s parking lot near Erie,” Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said at a press conference about the Steve Stephens case on Tuesday.
“Those officers responded, the vehicle fled from that area, there was a short pursuit in which the vehicle was stopped, and as the officers approached he took his own life.”
Speaking with the Associated Press, Debbie Godwin, the victim’s daughter, said that she wasn’t pleased to learn that the “Facebook Killer” had killed himself. “I’m not happy he’s dead at all,” she said.
“If you did it, you have to face your crime.”
[Featured Image by Tim Boyle/Getty Images]