CLEVELAND, OH — In a crime that shocked the nation, a Cleveland man is accused of murdering an elderly stranger and uploading the event to Facebook.
On Sunday, police initially said Steve Stephens had “broadcast the killing on Facebook Live,” but a spokesperson for the social media site later confirmed that the video was recorded and uploaded.
Stephens is considered armed and dangerous, police said, and, if seen, should not be approached.
The horrific video, which has since been taken down, allegedly shows Stevens killing an elderly man and bragging to the camera about how many other murders he has committed.
In the video, Stephens can be seen getting out of a car in a residential area. He turns to the camera and says, “Here’s somebody I’m about to kill. I’m about to kill this guy right here. An old dude.”
Stephens then approaches an elderly man on the street and can be seen talking to him.
Stephens: “Hi. Can you do me a favor? Can you say Joy Lane?”
Godwin: “Joy Lane?”
Stephens: “Yeah, she’s the reason this is about to happen to you.”
The video then shows a gun pointed at the elderly man’s head. The gun is fired and the victim falls to the ground. He was later pronounced dead.
An aggravated murder warrant was issued for Stephens’ arrest, and police said early Monday that he may have fled Ohio. Police have asked residents of nearby states, including Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana and Michigan, to be on the lookout and to alert authorities immediately if Stephens is spotted.
Police say they still don’t know what drove Stephens to target the victim, who has been identified as Robert Godwin, 74, but investigators say the attack appears to be random.
“He’s a monster,” a member of the victim’s family told the press of Stephens before dissolving into tears.
In series of posts on Sunday to what authorities say was Stephens’ Facebook page, the suspect complained that he had “lost everything” to gambling.
“I killed 12 people today” wrote Stephens, who shared a list of people that he said he needed to make contact with.
In a second, updated post, Stephens wrote: “I killed 15 today because of Joy Lane (a woman who has since been identified as Stephens’ former girlfriend.” The suspect said his “Easter day slaughter” wouldn’t stop until he could speak to his mother and to Lane.
In a statement, Lane said, “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.”
“It’s senseless,” Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said at a news conference. Asked if there were more victims, Williams said: “There are no other victims that we know of.”
Authorities described Stephens as a black man, standing 6 feet, 1 inch tall, weighing 244 pounds. He is bald and has 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 Ohio temporary tag number E363630.
A $50,000 reward has been issued for information leading to Stephens’ arrest.