It was a combination of losing the girl he loved and his pay packet on the casino tables that drove him to murder and to post the Easter Sunday horror video to Facebook.
Daily Mail spoke to people who knew him, finding out he was a loser in love with a gambling addiction.
As a teenager he bought a python and would approach women with his slithering pet around his neck to try and win their attention.
"It was a slimy thing to do and now he's just a snake in the grass, too," said next-door-neighbour Alexis Lee.
The 34-year-old mother of three said: "He didn't really know how to talk to us ladies.
"The snake was meant to draw my attention and he regularly told me he had a crush on me.
"But he wasn't my type at all. There was nothing attractive about him. He did have a nice personality though.
"He was great with the kids around here and when he was driving out after seeing his mom he'd stop his car.
"He would tell the kids 'Stay out of trouble, go to school and don't be knuckle heads'."
She added: "He was good to the kids and he would worry about them crossing the street or getting lost and said 'Hold hands now'.
"But he always seemed a bit lost and I'm not surprised that he's upset about his girlfriend and blaming her for what he's done.
"I saw him at the casino a couple of times and he would remind me that he always had a crush on me.
"One he asked me to sit next to him at the tables saying 'Be my queen ... be my lucky charm'. But I wasn't interested. I just went home."
Another local woman Charisse Leonard, 28, said: "I thought he was confused about his sexuality and could even have been gay.
"I had never known him to have had a girlfriend. But he had a nice nature as did his mother and family. I never saw his dad."
Theresa Blevins-Odom, 54, saw the killer, who is 37, just 48 hours before he carried out the slaying of the senior citizen and later posted a Facebook video of the murder.
She told DailyMail.com: "He seemed quite normal and said have a nice day.
"I am sorry for him and his mother, who is a good woman, and who has brought her children up to be good people.
"Everybody goes through some problems in their lives and maybe Steve couldn't handle it. I still think he's a good kid."
He graduated from Myers College business school in 2002 and had found a steady job.
Stephens worked as case manager at Beech Brook, a behavioural health agency headquartered in Pepper Pike, near Cleveland.
He joined in 2008 and began as a youth mentor for teens and for the past two years as a vocational specialist for the Assertive Community Treatment team, which provides support to older teens and young adults.
He did not have a criminal record and had only been accused of traffic offenses.
But he blew his salary at the tables in the Jack casino, in a former department store in downtown Cleveland, and at one point petitioned for bankruptcy.
He had a US$50,000 price on his head after law enforcement announced reward for information leading to his arrest.
After being on the run, he shot and killed himself in Pennsylvania as police were closing in.
"A traffic stop was attempted, there was a brief pursuit, at which time Stephens shot and killed himself," Pennsylvania State Police communications director Ryan Tarkowski said.
Police Chief Calvin Williams said that no more victims have been found, despite Stephens' claim on Facebook that he killed up to 15 people.
Authorities released an update as Stephen's ex-girlfriend, Joy Lane, apologised for the shooting.
Stephens says in the video that he was motivated to kill after breaking up with his girlfriend, identified as Lane, earlier in the day.
He wrote that he "messed up" in postings on social media and said he would only stop killing if his girlfriend or his mother called him.
Lane is said to be an Air Force veteran, and he said the two dated for three years, and he wishes he'd never met her. Lane is said to be in protective custody.
Stephens says the name of a woman, whom Godwin does not seem to recognise.
"She's the reason that this is about to happen to you," Stephens tells Godwin before pointing a gun at him. Godwin can be seen shielding his face with the shopping bag.
In a text message to CBS, she said: "We had been in a relationship for several years. I am sorry that all of this has happened.
"My heart and prayers goes out to the family members of the victim(s).
"Steve really is a nice guy. He is generous with everyone he knows. He was kind and loving to me and my children."
The killer's mother, Maggie Green, said Stephens had called by her house on Saturday afternoon and told her, "If you see me again, it'll be a miracle".
"He said this is the last time I was going to see him," she told CNN.
The video of the killing was on Facebook for about three hours before it was removed. Stephens' Facebook page also was eventually removed.