The life of the suspect in the random killing of a retiree – the video of which was posted on Facebook – was unravelling under the weight of gambling debts and trouble with his girlfriend.
Rambling videos he shared showed his despair, saying he was out of options and wanted to kill as many innocent people as he could.
The manhunt for Steve Stephens stretched into a third day on Tuesday and far beyond the neighbourhood where police said he shot a 74-year-old man who was picking up aluminium cans on Sunday after spending Easter with some of his children.
A $US50,000 reward is being offered for information leading to Stephens’ capture and prosecution.
Stephens posted a video of himself killing Robert Godwin, a former foundry worker who had 10 children, police said.
In it, he said, “I snapped, I just snapped.” But police would not speculate on what was behind it.
In the video, Stephens told Godwin a woman’s name and said, “She’s the reason that this is about to happen to you.” Godwin did not seem to recognise the name.
The woman Stephens spoke of, Joy Lane, said in a text message to America’s CBS television network that “we had been in a relationship for several years. I am sorry that all of this has happened.”
She also said Stephens was “a nice guy” who was good to her and her children.
Stephens filed for bankruptcy two years ago despite holding down a job as a counsellor helping young people develop job skills and find employment.
The agency where he worked said an extensive background check before he was hired turned up nothing worrisome.
In one video posted on Facebook, Stephens said that he gambled away everything and that he and his girlfriend had planned to marry.
On Monday evening, Facebook announced that it was launching a review for reporting harmful content following the killing.
The company said that Stephens posted a video of himself announcing his intent to commit murder, then two minutes later posted another video of himself shooting and killing Godwin. A few minutes after that, he went live and confessed.
The company said it disabled Stephens’ account within 23 minutes of receiving the first report about the video of the fatal shooting.