A horrible end to a horribly story: Steve Stephens, the “Facebook Killer” that live-streamed the murder of an elderly man on the site, committed suicide on Tuesday morning after a high-speed chase with police in Pennsylvania.
According to WEWS-TV, Stephens was found in Erie County, Pennsylvania, about 100 miles away from Cleveland, the city where the Facebook Killer took the life of Robert Godwin Sr. on Easter Sunday.
However, in interviews with CNN before Stephens’ death, the family of Godwin said they forgave Stephens – because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
Godwin’s former wife, Dorothy Crumpton, called the victim her “best friend.” When, at the end of an interview, CNN host Don Lemon asked Crumpton for a message to finished with, she decided to quote from the Bible’s most important passage — John 3:16.
“OK, since I got the last words,” Crumpton said. “‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’”
Crumpton also said she hoped Stephens wouldn’t kill himself or be killed by the police, because “at the end of the day Jesus died for (Stephens’) sins, too, just like he died for mine.”
Early in the interview, other family members voiced similar sentiments.
“I just want people to know that (her father) was a good man,” Godwin’s daughter Tammy said. “And he was a good father and he was a family man. And he was a good grandfather. He would do anything for anybody.
“Give us closure, just turn yourself in,” she added, addressing Stephens. “We don’t hate you. You took something from us and we still don’t hate you.”
You can see those comments here:
Family members of Facebook murder victim offer forgiveness: "You took something from us, we still don't hate you" https://t.co/YJr62ArOly
— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) April 18, 2017
In a separate interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, daughter Tonya Godwin Baines said that her father “taught us about God — how to fear God, how to love God, and how to forgive. Each one of us forgives the killer, the murderer.”
She added that while she thought Stephens should face the consequences of his actions, she still forgave him.
“My dad would be really proud of us and he would want this from us,” she explained. “He would say, ‘Tonya, forgive him, for they know not what they do.’”
Another of Godwin’s nine children, Debbie Godwin, agreed.
“I honestly can say right now that I hold no animosity in my heart against this man,” she said. “I could not do that if I did not know God. If I didn’t know him as my God and my Savior, I could not forgive that man. And I feel no animosity against him at all. I actually feel sadness in my heart for him. I do.”
The daughter of the Facebook murder victim has a message for the killer: I want him to know that "he's loved by God" https://t.co/1lbr6fXvsX
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) April 18, 2017
What a powerful message that wasn’t expected by anyone – and what is more powerful is that this is great proof of the peace that Christ can provide.