Cleveland 19 News Director reflects on Facebook murder

Cleveland 19 News Director reflects on Facebook murder
(Source: GoFundMe)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - We have come to the end of a long week. I wanted to take the time to answer some questions people have asked me about the murder coverage.

1. Did the murder get more attention because it was posted on Facebook? No. And yes. The reason we chose to go live for more than four hours on Sunday was that it was an "active shooter" situation. Steve Stephens claimed he had killed more than a dozen people, and that he was going to kill more. He was driving around town, and he had randomly killed one person. There was good reason to believe he would kill again, and the community needed to be warned. For the national media, the Facebook post of the murder made it a bigger story.

2. Did the media "glorify" the murderer? We tried not to focus on the murderer, but we were forced to run Stephens' picture constantly because he was a wanted man. It worked because he was eventually identified by workers at an Erie, Pa. McDonald's. I also think we need to know something about the Stephens. Who was he and what causes an apparently friendly social worker to become a cold-blooded killer? We didn't get clear answers, but some insight into these mental issues. We did as much as we could on the victim, Mr. Godwin, but the focus was clearly on the manhunt.

3. Did the Godwin murder take focus away from the double-homicide at the Mr. Cars dealership? The couple who owned the dealership were found dead late Friday (April 14th) night. It got coverage Saturday, but then got pushed out when Godwin was killed on Easter Sunday. We've started to cover the murders of Michael Kuznik, and Trina Tomola again this week, but police have little to give us right now. The murderer(s) took records and the security cam hard-drive.

4. Why did it take so long for police to find Stephens? I think we've all watched too many episodes of Criminal Minds and other TV shows that make it look easy to find people with technology. Every expert we talked to said it's easy to "go off the grid" for a short period of time. Just stay low, don't use your cell phone or credit cards. The fact is, he was found in less than three days when he showed his face at a drive-thru.

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