Facebook killing: Ex-girlfriend meets, prays with victim’s daughters

The three women hugged, talked and wept, united in grief by a killer who recorded the last minutes of his victim's life.

In a video posted on Facebook, Steve Stephens brutally gunned down Robert Godwin Sr., 74, as he walked down a Cleveland street on Easter Sunday.

Before Stephens fatally shot Godwin in the head, he demanded the victim say Joy Lane, the name of Stephens' former girlfriend.

"She's the reason that this is about to happen to you," Stephens told Godwin in the video before he shot him.

Nearly 48 hours after the killing, three unlikely strangers met Tuesday. Lane and two of the victim's daughters, Debbie Godwin and Tonya Godwin-Baines, talked, held hands and prayed, CNN affiliate WJW reported.

'The hashtags Joy Lane'

The three women shared their pain, each affected differently by a killing that stunned the nation.

Stephens fled after he shot Godwin on Sunday, triggering a manhunt that extended to several states and ended when the killer shot himself on Tuesday.

Lane said it has been difficult watching her name dominate social media, where her connection to the killer became a topic of discussion over the weekend.

"The hashtags Joy Lane, Joy Lane massacre -- I don't even know who Joy Lane is anymore, or how to pick up all the pieces of my world at this moment," Lane told the affiliate.

"I've got a lot of negative comments. Some even said he should have killed me."

Lane said she's devastated that the victim said her name before he was shot.

"I feel bad ... The last thing that he would have said was my name and didn't know me or why he was saying it. And that's been difficult," she said.

Lane said she and Stephens dated for a while, and had discussed getting engaged, but they broke up and she urged him to seek help for gambling issues.

They last talked Saturday night, she told the affiliate, when Stephens told her he'd quit his job and was moving out of state.

She told the affiliate that she tried to reach Stephens after the video of the killing surfaced on Facebook, but he didn't answer his phone.

Godwin taught forgiveness

The sisters told Lane the killing is not her fault, and they don't hold any ill will toward her.

In an interview with CNN, several of Godwin's children said they held no animosity toward Stephens, either.

"Each one of us forgives the killer, the murderer," Godwin-Baines said Monday.

Godwin taught his children the value of hard work, how to love God and how to forgive, his children said.

"They don't make men like him anymore," Debbie Godwin said. "He was definitely one in a million."

Manhunt ends

After the fatal shooting of the self-taught mechanic and grandfather of 14, authorities nationwide scrambled for two days to find Stephens.

The three-day manhunt ended Tuesday after the killer stopped at a McDonald's in Harborcreek Township, Pennsylvania, 100 miles from the scene of the killing.

His craving for fries and chicken McNuggets led him to the fast food restaurant, where an employee recognized him and tipped the police.

Stephens fled and Pennsylvania State Police troopers pursued, prompting an officer to ram the car to disable it. As the car was "spinning out of control" following the hit, Stephens pulled a pistol and shot himself in the head, according to police.

Authorities had hoped for a different outcome.

"We're grateful that this has ended," Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said. "We would prefer that it had not ended this way because there are a lot of questions, I'm sure, that not only the family, but the city in general would have had for Steve."

Godwin's daughter, Brenda Haymon, learned of Stephens' death as she was planning funeral arrangements for her father.

"All I can say is that I wish he had gone down in a hail of 100 bullets," Haymon said. "I wish it had gone down like that instead of him shooting himself."

Godwin will be laid to rest Saturday, nearly a week after he had an Easter meal with his children.

This BBSNews article was syndicated from News | WPLG, and written by News | WPLG. Read the original article here.