Killer’s suicide, social media complicate Cleveland investigation

Cleveland's police chief said he wishes Facebook killer Steve Stephens hadn't committed suicide because police still have a lot of questions

Steve Stephens
Courtesey: Cleveland Police Dept.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Local experts say the Cleveland Facebook killer’s suicide late Tuesday morning will make the police investigation more difficult.

Steve Stephens took his own life in Erie, Pennsylvania, ending a three-day manhunt that started after he posted a Facebook video of himself killing an elderly man.

Police got a tip saying Stephens’ car was in a McDonald’s parking lot there. When authorities tried to pull him over, he shot and killed himself.

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said he wishes the situation didn’t end this way because police still have a lot of questions.

Ed Villone, the commander of Youngstown State’s police academy, said getting those questions answered now is going to be more of a challenge.

“Makes it much more difficult. There’s a lot of legwork, a lot more man hours involved in it, it’s very time-consuming and costly to the taxpayer, but the taxpayers also deserve answers and the family certainly deserves closure. So it’s very important to follow through.”

Cleveland police are saying the video never should have been shared.

“I think the people on social media kind of know the power and I think they know the harm it can do. So we’ve talked before about people not living their lives on social media, and being truthful on social media, and not harming people via social media, and this is a prime example. This is something that should not have been shared around the world, period,” Williams said.

Villone said being able to post footage of crimes like this online is “totally ridiculous.”

“There’s some safeguards that are apparently going to have to be installed in our social media that catches things like that, so you can’t maybe post a live homicide, as it were.”

Williams said he hasn’t had any direct conversations with social media outlets but thinks it’s on the radar for city, state, and federal leaders.

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