Home / News / McDonald’s staff who helped police corner Cleveland Facebook killer Steve Stephens ‘in line for $50k reward’

McDonald’s staff who helped police corner Cleveland Facebook killer Steve Stephens ‘in line for $50k reward’

Employees at the drive-thru in Erie, Pennsylvania, reportedly stalled Stephens and called police after recognising him

McDonald’s staff who alerted police after spotting Cleveland Facebook murderer Steve Stephens at a drive-thru could receive the $50,000 reward, according to reports.

The gunman, 37, ordered 20 nuggets and fries at the fast food outlet in Erie, Pennsylvania, shortly before killing himself on Tuesday.

Stephens turned the gun on himself after he was involved in a dramatic police chasewhen officers spotted his car parked outside the restaurant.

Members of staff reportedly stalled Stephens, who had become the FBI’s most wanted man, and called police after recognising him.

Stephens shot himself following a police chase (Photo: REUTERS)

Police prepare to remove Stephens’ body (Photo: REUTERS)

The employees could now be in line for the $50,000 reward offered for his capture, TMZ reported.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said: “There is an award up to $50,000 for the arrest of Mr. Steve Stephens. The money comes from the FBI, ATF and U.S. Marshal Service.”

The news outlet reports that law enforcement officials believe the McDonald’s staff were the lynchpin that led cops to corner Stephens.

The McDonald’s drive-thru restaurant where a member of staff had recognised the car of fugitive Steve Stephens (Photo: REUTERS)

The killer ordered McNuggets shortly before his death (Photo: Getty)

Stephens shot great-grandfather Robert Godwin, 74, in cold blood in Cleveland, Ohio, on Sunday and posted horrifying footage of the killing on Facebook.

Pennsylvania State Police announced the killer’s death on Twitter this afternoon: “Steve Stephens was spotted this morning by PSP members in Erie County. After a brief pursuit, Stephens shot and killed himself.”

His death – around 100 miles from the scene of Mr Godwin’s killing – brought an end to a two-day manhunt to capture one of the world’s most wanted men.

Stephens was spotted by police in the car park of the McDonald’s in Buffalo Road in Erie County, Pennsylvania

His white Ford Fusion car was pictured sandwiched between two police cars (Photo: kw_hiya/Twitter)

Cleveland Police chief Calvin Williams said: “At a little after 11, state police officers received information that Stephens’ white vehicle was parked in a McDonald’s car park.

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“Pennsylvania police took pursuit. It was a short pursuit. Steve eventually stopped his vehicle and as officers approached his car, he took his own life.”

Mr Williams added: “There are a lot of things about this that we don’t know. We do not know if he had ties to Pennsylvania.

“We are in the early stages of the investigation and as we get information we will inform you.

“Our investigators are on the way to the scene now. A loss of life is a loss of life.

“It would have been good to talk to Steve about how he felt and why he did what he did. We wanted to bring him in safely.”

The police chief added: “There were dozens and dozens of officers across the country working on this case.

“I definitely want to thank them, our men and women in law enforcement, and also the community for pulling together.”

In response to a question about Facebook’s involvement in broadcasting the murder, Mr Williams said: “This should not have been shared around the world – period. Our children need to take this as a lesson.”

Stephens shot Mr Godwin at point-blank range in Cleveland, Ohio, on Sunday and posted the footage on Facebook.

He later confessed to the killing in a Facebook live broadcast.

The mum of murdered Mr Godwin’s two youngest sons said Stephens took the “coward’s way out” by committing suicide.

“Why didn’t he do it in the first place?” Angela Small sobbed to a reporter. “Why did he have to take these children’s dear daddy first?

“It doesn’t make me feel good that he took himself out like a coward.

Mr Godwin’s family have been left devastated by his murder (Photo: cleveland19news)

“It doesn’t make me feel any better. I still haven’t got any closure. He’s gone still.

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“I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, and now I see on the news that he’s killed himself. He left these kids without a father. I don’t even know what we’re going to do at this point.”

The brutal murder sparked a manhunt spanning five US states and Stephens was added to the FBI’s most wanted list.

Stephens also boasted he had killed more than a dozen other victims.

Mr Godwin, a father of 10, was fatally shot as he collected discarded aluminium cans on the pavement following an Easter gathering with family.

In the sick Facebook video, the killer asks Mr Godwin to say his ex-girlfriend Joy Lane’s name and then says before pulling the trigger: “She’s the reason this is about to happen to you.”

Ms Lane later told CBS News in a text message that she had been in a relationship with Stephens for several years and she was “sorry” for what had happened.

She wrote: “My heart & prayers goes out to the family members of the victim(s). Steve really is a nice guy… he is generous with everyone he knows.

“He was kind and loving to me and my children. This is a very difficult time for me and my family Please respect our privacy at this time.”

The victim’s heartbroken daughter Tonya Godwin Baines said her the family feels “like our heart is just ripped out of our chest, for somebody to brutally murder my father like that is unbelievable”.

Baines told ABC News her father was the epitome of a family man who “would give you the shirt off his back”.

“He taught us about God, he taught us love, forgiveness – just to know that I will never ever hear my father’s voice again is devastating,” Baines said.

A $50,000 (£40,000) reward was offered for information leading to Stephens’ capture and residents of Ohio and neighbouring states were warned to be on the lookout for him.

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There were more than 400 tips passed to Cleveland Police in the search for Stephens.

Law enforcement officials warned Stephens before his death that he would be caught.

An FBI spokesman said: “Either he is dead or someone is holding him up in a house.

“We have seen a bit of both over the years. Rest assured, we are following up on every single lead and have tonnes of manpower on this.

“I’m confident and optimistic that we will bring closure here.”


Tip-offs about Stephens’ whereabouts came flooding in from all over the country.

Cleveland Police chief Mr Williams told a press conference before the killer’s death: “We have not located Steve and we are still asking for the community’s help.

“This is currently a nationwide search and we are getting calls from all over the country – even as far as Texas.”

Meanwhile an audio recording of a 911 call placed just moments after Stephens killed Mr Godwin on Sunday has surfaced online.

In the audio recording, the dispatcher asks the caller: “Is he awake at all?”

The witness chillingly responds: “No, he’s unconscious, he’s dead.”

Stephens uploaded a video showing himself shoot Mr Godwin – minutes after an initial video boasting about his intent to kill someone.

He then began a Facebook live broadcast in which he confessed to the murder and tried to justify the killing.

But it was two hours and 11 minutes after the shooting video was uploaded before his account was deactivated by Facebook.

Justin Osofsky, Facebook’s vice-president for global operations, said: “As a result of this terrible series of events, we are reviewing our reporting flows to be sure people can report videos and other material that violates our standards as easily and quickly as possible.

“We disabled the suspect’s account within 23 minutes of receiving the first report about the murder video – and two hours after receiving a report of any kind. But we know we need to do better.”