Crime

False Leads Hinder 'Facebook Live Killer' Manhunt (Photo)

| by Michael Howard

Authorities are stressing they do not know the whereabouts of Steve Stephens, the "Facebook live killer," despite numerous reports from people claiming to have spotted him.

Stephens, 37, is alleged to have shot to death 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. in Cleveland on Easter Sunday and uploaded a video of the killing to Facebook. A nationwide manhunt is ongoing. Police spoke to Stephens on the phone after the shooting but now speculate that he may have turned his phone off, according to Cleveland.com.

While rumors about Stephens' whereabouts have spread on the internet, police say they do not know where he is.

"As far as we know, right now, we don't know where he's at," Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said, according to Syracuse.com. "The last location we actually had him was at the [site of the] homicide ... Anything else right now is kind of speculation. Again, we have investigations going all over this country trying to pinpoint his actual location."

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In the early morning hours of April 18, someone in Washington, D.C., called police and said they saw Stephens try to check into a hotel, according to WUSA. Police determined this to be a false lead after speaking with the hotel's desk attendant.

Previously there were reports that Stephens had been sighted in several Ohio cities, including Painesville and Lorain. There was also a rumor going around on social media that Stephens' cell phone had been pinged in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Police indicated that these rumors were all false, although they warned residents of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan to be on the lookout for Stephens, who was last seen driving a white 2016 Ford Fusion with temporary Ohio license plates.

"He could be nearby. He could be far away or anywhere in between," FBI Agent Stephen Anthony said.

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While Stephens' motive is still unclear, he did force his victim to say the name of his longtime partner, Joy Lane, before allegedly shooting him.

"She's the reason that this is about to happen to you," Stephens is heard saying in the video.

In a text message sent to CBS News, Lane described Stephens as "a nice guy."

"We had been in a relationship for several years. I am sorry that all of this has happened," she wrote. "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 has been described as 6 feet 1 inch tall and about 240 pounds. He has a beard and was wearing a dark-striped polo shirt at the time of the shooting. Anyone who sees him should keep their distance and dial 911. Anyone with knowledge of his whereabouts is urged to call the FBI tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

Sources: Syracuse.com, Cleveland.com, WUSA / Photo credit: Peter Anderson/Flickr, Syracuse.com

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