Massive manhunt underway for Facebook Live murder suspect

The murder of Robert Godwin Sr. on Facebook Live has spawned an extensive manhunt in five states, hundreds of reported sightings of the killer, and questions about the way the murder was streamed live.


CLEVELAND, April 17, 2017 — Ohio law enforcement are still searching for the man who streamed live the murder of an elderly man on Easter. A manhunt has been launched in five states across the Midwest and Northeast.

Police identified the murder suspect as Steve Stephens. His mother says Stephens told her he was killing people because he was angry with his girlfriend. Police pinged Stephens’ phone to a location in Erie, Pennsylvania but could not locate him. Law enforcement have searched dozens of locations but have not found any clues to his location.

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Stephens is described as a black male, 6-foot-1 and weighing 244 pounds. He was last seen driving a white Ford Fusion. Police have warned people in Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana and Michigan to keep an eye out for Stephens. While he is tied to only one murder, he claims to have committed 14 others, but police have not found any more victims.

Stephens continues to elude police, though reported sightings have flooded social media. None of the tips there have panned out. Unless Stephens surrenders, the hunt for him seems unlikely to result in a live capture, and there may be no explanation for his documented murder or his claim of other killings.

The spotlight has turned to Facebook for allowing him to stream a murder. Facebook Live was launched a year ago and has drawn heavy fire after other sensational videos. Mark Zuckerberg explained Facebook Live with the observation, “we built this big technology platform so we can go and support whatever the most personal and emotional and raw and visceral ways people want to communicate are as time goes on.”

Facebook Live has gained notoriety for providing uncensored looks at police shootings, rape, torture and multiple suicides. While Facebook pulled the Stephens video quickly, they are still hurt by the fact that it was run in the first place. There will be demands for some way to filter Facebook Live to avoid broadcast of murder, rape and suicide, though filtering will undoubtedly make it less “live.”

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