Man who put murder video on Facebook kills himself

'Facebook killer' Steve Stephens has been found dead.
'Facebook killer' Steve Stephens has been found dead.
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An American man who killed a 74-year-old and posted video footage of the crime on Facebook killed himself yesterday in Pennsylvania, American police said.

Pennsylvania State Police said Steve Stephens was spotted yesterday morning in Erie County, in the north-west of the state. Authorities said officers tried to pull Stephens over, but, after a brief pursuit, he shot and killed himself.

Stephens was wanted on an aggravated murder charge after a 74-year-old man was shot to death in Ohio while picking up aluminium cans on Sunday, after spending Easter with his family.

Stephens posted a video of himself killing Robert Godwin Snr, a former foundry worker who had ten children, police said. In it, he said: “I snapped, I just snapped.”

Stephens, 37, shared a recording on Sunday of himself announcing his plan to kill someone, then two minutes later posted another video of himself shooting and killing Mr Godwin, Facebook said.

A few minutes after that, he went live and confessed the crime, the company said.

Facebook said it disabled Stephen’s account within 23 minutes of receiving the first report about the video of the fatal shooting, and two hours after receiving any report.

The company has since announced it was launching a review on its processes for reporting harmful content.

Police would not speculate on what was behind the killing, but previous videos Stephens posted showed him talking about losing everything he had to gambling and having trouble with his girlfriend.

Stephens filed for bankruptcy two years ago, despite having a job as a counsellor helping young people develop job skills and find employment.

The behavioural health agency where he worked said an extensive background check before he was hired turned up nothing troubling.

In one video posted on Facebook, Stephens said that he gambled away everything, and that he and his girlfriend had planned to marry but did not, without saying why.

In the video of the shooting, Stephens told Mr Godwin the name of his girlfriend and said: “She’s the reason that this is about to happen to you.”

The woman Stephens spoke of, Joy Lane, said in a text message to a TV news channel that “we had been in a relationship for several years”.

She added: “I am sorry that all of this has happened.”

Investigators said that Mr Godwin was the only victim so far linked to Stephens, despite his claim on Facebook that he had killed more than a dozen people.

Detectives spoke with the suspect on Sunday by phone and tried to persuade him to surrender, police said.