On Tuesday morning, Philadelphia State Police announced that 37-year-old Steve Stephens, who filmed himself killing 74-year-old Robert Godwin then posted it on Facebook, killed himself after a brief police chase. New information reported Tuesday afternoon revealed that police were able to find and catch up to Stephens thanks to observant and quick-thinking workers at a McDonald’s in Erie, Pennsylvania.
A massive manhunt covering four states, including Pennsylvania, was undertaken by authorities as they searched for Stevens after the killing of Godwin on Easter Sunday.
Sometime late Tuesday morning, Stevens pulled into the drive thru of the Erie, Pennsylvania McDonald’s and ordered 20 chicken nuggets and a large fry. Workers at McDonald’s recognized him and contacted police after Stephens pulled up to the second window to pick up his order. They decided to buy police some time by handing him his nuggets but telling him his fries were not yet ready.
The restaurant’s manager, Henry Sayers, says that Stephens didn’t wait. “He just took his nuggets and said, ‘I have to go,’ and he drove off,” Sayers said. Stephens reportedly took off at a normal speed. Upon leaving the restaurant, he turned onto Buffalo Road. At that point, police were right behind him. There was a brief chase at approximately 50 mph.
A state trooper eventually did what is known as a PIT maneuver causing Stephens to lose control of his car and forcing him to stop. It was at that point, as officers approached his car, that Stephens killed himself with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
In a statement, the McDonald’s corporation applauded the quick thinking workers for their actions.
“We applaud the crew members at this McDonald’s restaurant who recognized the suspect and did the right thing by quickly alerting the authorities of his location. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s loved ones and all of those impacted by this horrific crime.”
Kudos to the McDonald’s workers for calling the police upon recognizing Stephens. Although the family of Robert Godwin would have no doubt preferred that Stephens turned himself in and served time for the murder of their loved one, it is a good thing that communities are no longer in fear with Stephens on the loose since he claimed to have killed 13 other people and vowed to continue to kill.