D.C. police on Tuesday debunked a claim that the man who was being called the Facebook killer after he allegedly fatally shot a man in Cleveland was spotted at a Dupont Circle hotel.
Later Tuesday, the man accused of the Cleveland slaying, Steve W. Stephens, killed himself as police were pursuing him in Erie County, Pa., Pennsylvania State Police said.
The death ended a three-day nationwide manhunt for Stephens, who authorities said killed Robert Godwin Sr. in East Cleveland. Stephens, 37, then posted a graphic video on Facebook of the incident, police said.
Authorities had warned residents in Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania to beware. And on Tuesday, D.C. police quashed a claim that he had been spotted at a Dupont Circle hotel.
Early Tuesday, someone called police to say Stephens had been seen about 1 a.m. at the Fairfax at Embassy Row in the 2100 block of Massachusetts Avenue NW. But D.C. police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said authorities quickly determined that the person was not the man being sought.
Sternbeck said police received two tips Monday about possible sightings of the suspect, including the one at the hotel, and neither was accurate. He would not say where the other alleged sighting was.
A reward of up to $50,000 was being offered for information leading to Stephens’s arrest.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams had made a plea to Stephens, “Steve, if you’re out there listening, call someone — whether it’s a friend or family member or pastor — give them a call; they’re waiting for you to call them.”
The video of Godwin’s killing was viewable for about three hours before it was removed. Stephens’s profile was deactivated.
Stephens also had posted a video saying he snapped and mentioning a relationship with a woman, who is said to be cooperating with officials.
Facebook called the shooting a “horrific crime” and said it would review its policies on how easily and quickly material that violates its standards can be reported by users.
In the District, the mistaken sighting occurred when a guest at the Fairfax at Embassy Row hotel called police shortly after midnight. He said he saw a man with a shaved head and a beard walk into the lobby who looked similar to Stephens.
The guest — Christopher Picciolini, 43, of Chicago — said he was in town to attend an event at the U.S. State Department. Picciolini said he went upstairs to his room and texted the D.C. police department’s tip line, prompting a response.
He said police later told him that the man had tried to pay cash for a room and was turned away. A police report says officers reviewed hotel surveillance video of the man and determined it wasn’t Stephens. Picciolini said the man he saw had a beard much longer than the man from Cleveland.
David Hendrix, the hotel’s general manager, confirmed Picciolini’s account. He said the man was turned away because the hotel requires a valid identification and credit card to book a room. He said there was nothing about the man “that raised any alarms.”
Lindsey Bever, Peter Holley and Drew Harwell contributed to this report.