On Sunday, a Cleveland man named Robert Godwin was brutally murdered by an apparent stranger as he walked home from Easter festivities. The video of his murder was subsequently posted on Facebook by Godwin's alleged killer, Steve Stephens. Now, Godwin's devastated family is (amazingly) offering forgiveness to Stephens and asking him to surrender.
Godwin was a father of 10 — six girls and four boys — and a grandfather to 14 grandchildren. On Sunday, he was walking home from an Easter meal at one of his children's houses and collecting aluminum cans as he walked, a retirement hobby of his. As Godwin was walking, he was allegedly approached by Stephens, who appeared to be a complete stranger to Godwin. Stephens then shot Godwin at very close range, killing him. Stephens supposedly shot Godwin because he was angry with a girlfriend. Stephens has been on the run since Sunday and authorities believe he may have left Ohio for another nearby state.
Robert Godwin's family has been left understandably devastated by the loss of their father and grandfather. The family noted that he was a hardworking provider and fondly remembered his affinity for fishing. They also stated that Godwin was incredibly generous and that he would give someone "the shirt off his back" if they were in need.
Amazingly, Godwin's family has also expressed forgiveness for his alleged killer. According to Jessica Dill, a Fox News Cleveland reporter who has interviewed the family, the family's message to Stephens, the suspect, was "We forgive you. Please turn yourself in."
I don't think I've ever interviewed a stronger family. Robert Godwin's family message to suspect- "We forgive you. Please turn yourself in" pic.twitter.com/ARY1sa0KA3— Jessica Dill (@JessicaLynnDill) April 17, 2017
Godwin's daughter, Tonya Godwin-Baines, further elaborated in an interview with Dill, expressing forgiveness for the suspect and also requesting that he surrender to Cleveland Police, who have issued a warrant for his arrest. Godwin-Baines stated:
Godwin's family has been unspeakably brave and forgiving in the wake of his death. If you wish to support the family through this tragic time, you can donate to them through this approved and verified GoFundMe account (please be sure to only use this account, as there have been many instances of fake accounts made in the family's name). Moreover, you can also help spread the family's request that social media users stop sharing the video of their father's death as well as pass on their request for the suspect to surrender.
Godwin's family epitomizes strength and unity during hardship. Hopefully the the suspect will soon surrender and the family can at least receive some small amount of justice after the tragic death of their beloved dad and grandad.