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Manhunt widens for Facebook murder suspect

The man, Steve Stephens, could have crossed into Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana or Michigan, authorities said.
A man who identified himself as Stevie Steve is seen in a combination of stills from a video he broadcast of himself on Facebook in Cleveland on April 16. Photo: Reuters

The manhunt for a murder suspect who police said posted a video of himself on Facebook shooting an elderly man in Cleveland widened Monday as authorities asked the public for help and pleaded with the suspect to turn himself in.

Police said they have searched "dozens of locations" for the suspect, Steve Stephens, and tried to convince him to turn himself in when they spoke with him on his cell phone on Sunday after the shooting. But Stephens remains at large as the hunt for him expands in Ohio and neighboring states, they said. Late Sunday night Cleveland police issued an aggravated murder warrant for Stephens and warned he could have crossed into Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana or Michigan.

"Obviously, this individual is armed and dangerous, and quite frankly at this point he could be in a lot of places," FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen Anthony told a news conference in Cleveland.

Police said Stephens used Facebook to post video of him killing 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. Stephens is not believed to have known Godwin, a retired foundry worker who media reports said spent Easter Sunday morning with his son and daughter-in-law before he was killed.

Godwin was the father of nine children and grandfather of 14, his son, Robert Godwin Jr. told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Godwin Jr. could not immediately be reached by Reuters to comment.

"I haven't watched the video. I haven't even looked at my cellphone or the news," Godwin Jr. told the newspaper. "I don't really want to see it."

Stephens, who has no prior criminal record, is not suspected in any other murders, despite a claim he made in the video of having killed more than a dozen other people, police said.

"We're asking the public to remain vigilant," Cleveland police chief Calvin Williams said. "We're asking you to go about your day, but be careful."

The last confirmed sighting of Stephens was at the scene of the homicide. Police said he might be driving a white or cream-colored Ford Fusion, and asked anyone who spots him or his car to call police or a special FBI hotline (800-CALLFBI).

"We're still asking Steve to turn himself in," said Williams. "But if he doesn't, we'll find him."

Stephens had worked since 2008 as a vocational specialist and youth mentor at Beech Brook, a behavioral health agency located in a Cleveland suburb.

The offices of Beech Brook were closed on Monday, the group said in a statement, adding it was "horrified" by the shooting.