There are numerous reports that Steve Stephens, the accused Facebook killer, has committed suicide in Erie, Pennsylvania.
The closest analogy to the case that people are drawing is to Christopher Dorner, and that didn’t end very well – for Dorner. (Dorner was a fired Los Angeles police officer who killed four people in a 2013 California shooting spree and then vanished as police launched a massive manhunt. He was eventually found burned in a cabin during a police standoff and gun battle. He had posted a manifesto to Facebook and mailed it to Anderson Cooper. Those were the days before prolific Facebook videos, of course. It took authorities 12 days to find Dorner, but they did eventually find him.)
Stephens – accused of the gruesome videotaped murder of an elderly stranger in Ohio – only disappeared on April 15. Authorities vowed they would get him, and tips keep flooding in.
Still, it’s was baffling Twitter users that he’d escaped detection for days.
Some wondered: Couldn’t police just trace Stephens’ car with GPS? Authorities explained that point in an April 18 news conference. “That vehicle is not equipped with any of those systems,” Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said. “Of course, that’s the first thing that we looked at from the dealership aspect, and also from Ford Motor Company itself. The vehicle is not equipped to offer that type of tracking.”
That vehicle police say Stephens might be driving is described as a white 2016 Ford Fusion with temporary tag E363630.
There was an earlier report out of Erie, Pennsylvania that his cell phone “pinged” there, but local police say they have no knowledge of that.
There had been reported sightings of Stephens from Baltimore to Philadelphia – and authorities have received hundreds of tips – but none had panned out. They were scouring abandoned homes in Cleveland. The attention, so far, has largely focused on the eastern seaboard.
Stephens is not the only wanted person who recently dodged a massive dragnet – although it not appears he did so because he was deceased. Authorities are still looking for Tad Cummins, the Tennessee teacher who vanished with 15-year-old student Elizabeth Thomas in mid-March despite extensive attention from authorities. They were spotted at an Oklahoma City Walmart a few days after disappearing, but there’s been no sign of them since despite an intense manhunt involving many law enforcement agencies and lots of publicity.
Here’s a list of the top 10 most elusive criminals of all time, from the Alcatraz prisoner escapees to the soldier who shot and killed Abraham Lincoln’s assassin to DB Cooper, the skyjacker who parachuted into the night and was never seen again (although experts are still scientifically examining his left-behind tie for metallic particles; the mystery never ceases to fascinate).
Police and FBI officials in Cleveland vow it’s only a matter of time before they get Stephens, who is accused of murdering a random stranger, 74-year-old Robert Godwin, on a Cleveland street, recording the slaying on video, and then posting it on Facebook. In the video, Stephens says he is committing the murder because he is angry at his girlfriend, Joy Lane.