The family of retired foundry worker Robert Godwin has forgiven the man who killed the 74-year-old and posted the harrowing shooting on Facebook.
USA Today reports the family spoke to Cleveland TV station WJW about Steve Stephens, who is currently on the run for committing the crime. The 37-year-old has been placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for shooting the grandfather of 14 on Easter Sunday (April 16). Godwin’s family has received plenty of prayers and large donations since the story reached national coverage.
Robert Godwin Sr., Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/oi7YQf5Jjz
— deray (@deray) April 17, 2017
Speaking to reporters, the family as a whole has forgiven Stephens and have prayed for him.
“Each one of us forgives the killer, the murderer,” Tonya Godwin-Baines, a daughter of 74-year-old victim Robert Godwin, said. “We want to wrap our arms around him.” She also begged Stephens to turn himself in. Considered armed and dangerous, Stephens fled Cleveland and could be anywhere between Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana or Michigan.
“To the young man who murdered my daddy, I ask that you please surrender,” she added. “I forgive you and love you, but most importantly, God loves you. God can heal your mind and save your soul.” Robert Godwin Jr., also shared the same pleas. “Steve, I forgive you … I’m not happy [with] what you did but I forgive you.”
— Jessica Dill (@JessicaLynnDill) April 17, 2017
Meanwhile, Godwin’s 34-year-old girlfriend shared with the Daily Mail how she broke the news of his death to his youngest children. “I told them he is up there with God,” Angela Smith said. “God needed him. I couldn’t really explain.” Smith says the two have been together for over 10 years. “He was a good man, I loved him and he loved and respected me,” she said. “The age difference didn’t matter. I didn’t care what anybody said. Now I have to live without him and it’s very hard. I just want him (Stephens) to turn himself in to the police.”
Smith says the day of the shooting Godwin was collecting cans, a hobby he enjoyed since retiring last year. “He was just in the wrong place, wrong time,” Smith said. “Anywhere he went he would just protect the kids and now this has happened to him. To see him holding his bag up as a defense was like seeing a kid in trouble. It is heartbreaking.”
Cleveland’s Mayor Frank Jackson has issued a $50,000 reward to anyone with information about Stephen’s whereabouts.