Joy Lane says she's receiving threats on social media
Victim's daughters tell Lane it's not her fault
The three women hugged, prayed and talked, united in grief by a killer who recorded the last minutes of his victim’s life.
Nearly 48 hours after the shooting death of Robert Godwin Sr., 74, on Easter Sunday, two of his daughters and the killer’s ex-girlfriend met for the first time.
Godwin was walking down a street in Cleveland, Ohio, when Steve Stephens gunned him down, then posted a video of the killing on Facebook.
Before the shooting, he demanded Godwin say Joy Lane, the name of Stephens’ ex-girlfriend.
“She’s the reason that this is about to happen to you,” Stephens told Godwin in the video. He then shot him, forever linking Lane and the victim’s family.
Lane and two of the victim’s daughters, Debbie Godwin and Tonya Godwin-Baines, met Tuesday, CNN affiliate WJW reported.
There was no fingerpointing – just hugs. No accusations – just mutual grief.
‘The hashtags Joy Lane’
During the meeting, the three women shared their pain, the affiliate reported, each affected differently by a killing that stunned the nation.
Stephens fled after he killed Godwin, triggering a manhunt that extended to several states and ended when he shot himself on Tuesday in Pennsylvania.
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.”
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 called police.
Stephens fled and Pennsylvania State Police troopers pursued, prompting an officer to ram the car to disable it. As his vehicle was spinning out of control, Stephens pulled a pistol and shot himself in the head, according to police.
For two days, authorities across the country scrambled to find Stephens, the man wanted for the death of Robert Godwin, a self-taught mechanic and grandfather of 14.
“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, 74, was shot Sunday while walking home from an Easter meal with his children in Cleveland. Stephens later posted video of the elderly man’s death on Facebook. A funeral is scheduled for Saturday, Haymon told CNN.
She said Stephens was a vocational specialist who worked with youth and young adults. He had previously worked as a youth mentor, she said.
CNN’s Darran Simon, Holly Yan, Sara Ganim, Amanda Watts, Lawrence Crook, Seth Fiegerman, Kwegyirba Croffie, Sonia Moghe, Chris Boyette and Dave Alsup contributed to this report.