Hunt for Facebook Killer Ends With McDonald’s Sighting and a Suicide

Two days when a rare crime, a murder that the killer recorded on video and announce to Facebook, it absolutely was a yen for one thing as reassuringly traditional as a McDonald’s meal that tripped him au courant Tuesday, once a hunt over with a tip to the police, a quick chase and therefore the gunman’s suicide.

The explore for Steve W. Stephens had unfold across a large space of the country, with apparently false sightings reportable in jap Pennsylvania, Maryland, Indiana, Michigan and even American state. however he over his life close to Erie, Pa., about 100 miles from Cleveland, where on Sunday he walked up to a stranger, Robert Godwin Sr., fatally shot him, and then posted the video for the world to see.
Driving a white Ford Fusion sedan, Mr. Stephens, 37, pulled into the drive-through lane of a McDonald’s on Buffalo Road around 11 a.m. and bought a 20-piece order of Chicken McNuggets and a large order of French fries for $5.35, Henry Sayers, the restaurant manager, said in an interview. After a worker recognized Mr. Stephens, the restaurant staff tried to stall him by holding on to his fries while calling the police.
“But he just took his nuggets and said, ‘I have to go,’ and he drove off,” Mr. Sayers said, adding that Mr. Stephens did not speed away but left the restaurant at a normal clip.
The killing, and Mr. Stephens’s flight, set off intense news coverage, widespread fear and a vast hunt involving the F.B.I., the United States Marshals Service, and several state and local police agencies. Investigators had picked up a “ping” from his cellphone near Erie on Sunday and had searched the area without success, Chief Williams said.
Wanted posters showing Mr. Stephens’s face and name appeared on digital billboards across the country, a $50,000 reward was offered, and the police received nearly 400 tips from people claiming to have information about him. Several schools in Philadelphia were placed on lockdown on Monday after the police received multiple reports that he had been spotted at a park. The police said on Twitter that there was no indication he was in the area, and on Tuesday, the Baltimore Police Department on Twitter debunked reports of sightings there as “unfounded.”
Mr. Stephens had worked since 2008, without any disciplinary problems, at Beech Brook, a behavioral health agency that serves children, the organization said. All 270 employees there were notified on Sunday night to stay home on Monday, said Nancy Kortemeyer, a spokeswoman for the agency. At Beech Brook’s 70-acre headquarters campus in Pepper Pike, a Cleveland suburbia, and at a family drop-in center in Cleveland, the police “did a practise to create certain he wasn’t there,” she said.
Upon learning of Mr. Stephens’s suicide, “there was a combination of disappointment and relief” at the organization, Ms. Kortemeyer same.
Debbie Godwin, one in every of the victim’s six daughters, same in associate interview: “We aren’t happy regarding the result as a result of we tend to would’ve most well-liked that he turned himself in and paid the penalty for taking my father’s life. we tend to forgave him, however even the Bible says the law is that the law. Him dying serves US no purpose.”
In news conferences, officers took what Clinton Van Zandt, a former F.B.I. profiler and communicator, known as “a softer, velvet glove” approach to Mr. Stephens, appealing to him to show himself in whereas attempting to not provoke him. They named him as “Steve,” avoided harsh comments on his actions, and same his family and friends were waiting to listen to from him.
That the chase led to suicide was no surprise to hunt specialists, given Mr. Stephens’s behavior. in line with news reports, he was a gambler World Health Organization struggled with debts, had recently been evicted from associate housing for failure to pay rent and, on his video, he delineate himself as having lost everything.
Mr. Stephens had not taken steps to hide his tracks that alternative fugitives have done, like discarding his cell, ever-changing vehicles or traveling faraway from home. Even the killing, Mr. Van Zandt same, “was, I think, associate impulsive act which his escape might not be as thought-out.”
In the end, it absolutely was a straightforward trip through a McDonald’s drive-through that brought the hunt to a detailed. “I suppose we tend to interacted with him for like fifteen seconds,” said Mr. Sayers, the manager.

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