Children of Murdered Man Extended Forgiveness to Father’s Killer Hours Before His Suicide

Robert Godwin, Sr.'s children told Anderson Cooper Monday night that they forgave the man who murdered their father and wanted him to know God.

By Nancy Flory Published on April 18, 2017

The nationwide search is over for Steve Stephens, the man who police said killed Robert Godwin, Sr. and posted a video of the crime on Facebook. After a brief pursuit Tuesday by Pennsylvania State Police, Stephens shot and killed himself. His death comes less than a day after Godwin’s children offered a remarkable testament of forgiveness and love to the man accused of killing their father.

“I just want him to know that God loves him,” Godwin’s daughter Tonya Godwin-Baines told CNN. “We love him. Yes, we’re hurt, but we have to forgive him because if we don’t forgive him, the Bible says your Heavenly Father won’t forgive you.”

He Lived What He Taught

Robert Godwin, Sr., 74, lived what he taught, his children said. “The one thing I would take away the most from my father is he taught us about God,” said Godwin-Baines. “How to fear God. How to love God. And how to forgive. Each one of us forgives the killer. The murderer.” “We want to wrap our arms around him,” she added.

“My dad would be really proud of us, and he would want this from us, and he would say, ‘Tonya, forgive him, because they know not what they do.’” 

But even through the horror and hurt, Godwin wanted her father’s killer to know that God loves him. “I just would want him to know that even in his worst state, he’s loved, you know, by God, that God loves him, even in the bad stuff that he did to my dad. And that he has some worth while, even though he’s gonna have to go through many things to get better, there’s worth in him.”

She added, “As long as there’s life in him, there is hope for him too. I do believe that.” 

Godwin said that the killer was a “sick individual,” but she held no hard feelings toward him because she knows God. “If I didn’t know Him as my God and my Savior, I could not forgive that man. And I feel no animosity against him at all. Actually, I feel sadness for him. I do.”

Godwin-Baines spoke to the killer directly in an interview with FoxNews. “To the young man who murdered my daddy, I ask that you please surrender. I forgive you, and love you but most importantly, God loves you. God can heal your mind and save your soul. PLEASE!”

Pennsylvania State Police posted on Twitter Tuesday morning that Stephens had committed suicide after a brief chase. Although Stephens had boasted on Facebook about having committed a dozen murders, no other victims have been found and Cleveland officials said Stephens had no prior criminal record.

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  • ImaginaryDomain

    I stand humbled by this incredible lesson in true Christianity.

  • AvantiBev

    Sorry, but I cannot agree with this therapeutic, automatic forgiveness nor it being confused with true Christian doctrine. “If thy brother TURN TO THEE AND REPENT…” seems to be lost in the current Age of Sentimentality.

    • ookie19

      That’s because you are not a true follower of Jesus. If you knew Him as this family does you would understand their ability to forgive even in the face of tragedy. The stronger the faith the more grace is given. That grace is supernatural in its ability to transform a heart into the heart of Christ. I pray that before you leave this earth you have eyes to know and love our great God. As of right now you know but a faint shadow of truth and sadly you are convinced you know it all.

    • LYoung

      Jesus said from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
      Stephen as he gasped his last breath asked God not to hold the charge against those who stoned him. This is the mandate of our faith in Christ. We leave mercy and justice up to God alone.

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