Family of shooting victim Robert Godwin Sr. remembers a quiet man whose actions spoke volumes

Posted at 8:18 PM, Apr 17, 2017

Fisherman lined the bulkhead along the E. 55th Street Marina in Cleveland on Monday but there was one who was missing. Robert Godwin Sr. could be found most days with a line in the water.

"He would stay down on the lake sometimes so late we would call and ask 'Dad you OK?'" his daughter Debbie Godwin recalled the day after the 74-year-old father of ten was gunned down on E. 93rd Street, his murderer Steve Stephens recording his deed and uploading it to Facebook.

"He went fishing Saturday and earlier that week he went Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday," she said. "Everyday his day consisted of taking somebody grocery shopping, taking somebody to move something. He would fish not because he ate it every day but because he would fish and clean it and then he'd pass it out to his kids and neighbors."

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Robert Godwin Sr. was born and raised in Plantersville, Alabama. The father of 10 was one of ten. He moved to Cleveland, his daughters recalled, when he was 21.

"He worked at Scottish Tool & Die until they closed and T&B Foundry where he retired from," said daughter Tonya Godwin-Baines using the word retire loosely. Godwin was always non-stop.

"I always tell people Dad is the reason why we have a good work ethic because we saw my Dad and he would work 12 hours a day, then he would come home and fix cars in the evening to make extra money," said Debbie.

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Like any little girls they looked up to their father and even as grown women planned to do so for years to come. That's what made his sudden death so hard and the circumstances around it even harder.

"The thing that hurt me the most is the fear that I saw in his eyes," said Tonya who watched the video. "I wanted to know his thought process, what was he thinking, was he afraid, was he crying?"

In calling on Stephens to turn himself in, Godwin's daughters wanted to stress one thing their father would have wanted.

"We do forgive him," Tonya said of the shooter. "We want the killer to surrender himself and we do forgive him and we love him with the love of Christ. We are hurt, we are angry, we are upset, that's a natural human reaction but we want justice to be served and we don't want nobody else's family to have to suffer what we did."

The manhunt

Stephens is described as being just over 6 feet tall, weighing about 244 pounds. He is bald with a full beard. The FBI is also assisting in the search. 

Cleveland police confirmed to News 5 Monday that Stephens had a concealed carry permit. 

Police say the suspect's vehicle is a white Ford Fusion with temporary tag E363630.