The nearly three-day nationwide manhunt for “Facebook killer” Steve Stephens came to an abrupt end yesterday after he killed himself and saved taxpayers a lot of money in prosecuting and incarcerating him for life. The victim’s family got the closure they deserved after their beloved father/grandfather was executed live on Facebook while walking home from Easter brunch in Cleveland, Ohio. Not a word had been heard from them during the search until today when they broke their silence to make a shocking admission that nobody saw coming.
After having consumed much of media’s attention for three days before taking the cowardly way out of the consequences he deserved, it’s time to remove the focus from Stephens and put it on his victim who cannot be forgotten. It’s hard to fathom the unbearable pain 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr.’s loved ones have felt after he was not only murdered but the brutal act was live streamed for them and the rest of the world to witness. This is why what they said today comes as such a surprise.
In an ironic twist to Godwin dying on Easter Sunday — a Christian holiday which represents the gift of forgiveness God gave his believers by dying on the cross and overcoming death — the victim’s family said they forgive Stephens. Because of their faith in Jesus Christ and the religious man Godwin was, the family easily overcame their hate in the midst of intense mourning.
“Godwin’s former wife, Dorothy Crumpton, called the victim her ‘best friend,'” Conservative Tribune reported. “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 told the reporter. “‘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.’”
The interview with the family took place hours before Stephens took his own life in a police chase. As the outcome was unknown while speaking to the reporter, Crumpton expressed her concern that Stephens would resort to killing himself or commit suicide by cop because of his lack of understanding in salvation represented on the day he committed this heinous crime. “At the end of the day Jesus died for [Stephens’] sins, too, just like he died for mine,” she explained.
Crumpton wasn’t the only Christian in the family to speak out religiously about their unusual stance of forgiveness so soon in the investigation. Godwin’s daughter, Tonya Godwin Baines, said in a separate interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper 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.”
Each of Godwin’s nine children echoed the same sentiment which in their dad’s death, demonstrates what an incredible, Godly example he was to them. “I honestly can say right now that I hold no animosity in my heart against this man,” daughter Debbie Godwin 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 best way Godwin’s children could honor him as well as their Heavenly Father, is through sharing this powerful message of love and forgiveness he instilled in them. The world lost an incredible man on Sunday, but he knew God’s plan for him and is in the loving arms of his Savior Jesus Christ now. Maybe his death and his family’s message will bring more people to know God.