Family of Cleveland Man Slain in Facebook Video: 'Each of Us Forgives the Killer'
The family of Robert Godwin Jr. offered forgiveness and implored Steve Stephens to turn himself in
The family of Robert Godwin Sr. has offered their forgiveness to the man who allegedly shot him on Sunday and uploaded the video to Facebook.
“Each of us forgives the killer, the murderer,” Godwin’s daughter, Tonya Godwin-Baines told local TV station FOX 8. “We want to wrap our arms around him.”
“I want him to know that God loves him,” Godwin-Baines continued. “We love him. Yes, we’re hurt. But we have to forgive him, because if we don’t forgive him, the Bible says your Heavenly Father won’t forgive you.”
Added Godwin’s tearful son, Robert Godwin Jr.: “Steve, I forgive you. I’m not happy [with] what you did but I forgive you,”
The family describes their father as a kind, patient man who loved to go fishing and took them to church each week. Robert Godwin Sr. had 10 children.
Stephens — described as a 6-foot-1, 244-lb. man with a bald head and full beard — allegedly approached the 74-year-old man and shot him point blank, killing him. While attacking him, police claim Stephens said in the video that his girlfriend drove him to commit the crime. He then uploaded the footage to Facebook.
Godwin’s family also expressed concern for the Stephen’s girlfriend. “We know it is not her fault,” said Robert Godwin Jr. “She should not feel like it’s her fault.”
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The Facebook video of the shooting, which has been shared extensively on social media, was taken down soon after it was posted. On Monday night, Facebook issued a statement saying that they were “working on improving our reporting process” to ensure that videos like this can’t be shared.
Steve Stephens is still on the run. While police have classified the manhunt as a “national search,” they also say he is likely still in Cleveland. Previous reports that he was in the Philadelphia or in the Baltimore area have turned out to be untrue, police have said.
Police believe that Stephens is still driving a white Ford Fusion with the temporary tag number E363630.
“There is no indication that he has left the Cleveland area,” Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said during the Monday afternoon press conference, “but we can say without a doubt that he’s armed.”
A $50,000 reward has been offered for information leading to Stephens’ arrest. Anyone with information is urged to call 1-800-CALL-FBI with tips.
Godwin’s family is finding strength in their family and faith, but they are also hoping to find closure after their beloved father’s death.
“I ask that you please surrender,” says Godwin-Baines, adding, “I forgive you.”