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Questions About Family's Slaying Likely Won't Be Answered

In Response to Readers Comments: To understand why this is classified as vigilantism you need to see our definition of vigilantism. Accordingly, here we have someone (Roberts) who has taken the lives of the family of a former sex offender (Stevens), and shot him as well. We do not know why Roberts did that, therefore we classify that as a "vigilante act." The fact that Roberts apparently was hiding from police (or that Roberts was married to one of Stevens Kin [reason for Roberts living with the Stevens family]) does not change the fact that we do not know why Roberts killed the Stevens family (the vigilante act). The only exception in our definition of "Vigilantism" is, if Roberts was the victim of Steven's original sex crime, and the article does not make that connection. (YES, this was a difficult case to classify, and forced us to review our definition as well)

5-2-2011 Ohio:

Four Shot, Killed In West Union Home

WEST UNION, Ohio -- Bocephus Stephens wishes Randle Roberts hadn't been killed in a gunfight with Columbus police Saturday morning.

If Roberts were alive, Stephens said, he might be able to find out why Roberts shot Stephens' father, wife, sister and daughter to death in their West Union home.

West Union police said that 33-year-old Kendra F. Stephens, 67-year-old George Stephens, 40-year-old Sonja Stephens and 11-year-old Harley Stephens were shot and killed sometime early Saturday.

Another daughter, 8-year-old Mariah Stephens, told police she awoke to find her family shot to death. She heard nothing as she slept because Roberts placed earplugs in her ears, investigators said.

After the slayings, investigators said Roberts stole a sport utility vehicle and a car before getting into a chase and gunfight with Columbus police that left him dead and three officers wounded.

Franklin County Coroner Jan Gorniak wouldn't say how many times Roberts was hit but said he was shot in the head, torso and extremities.

Stephens told News 5's Amy Wagner that Roberts was married to a relative of his and was staying with Stephens' family while he got back on his feet.

Another family member said Saturday that Roberts was on the run from police for burglaries in a pair of central Ohio counties.

"The hardest part was today, (when) I had to go down and get their clothes out of the house, the smell in the house and just sick seeing all of the blood," said Bocephus Stephens.

Stephens, who is a registered sex offender because of a conviction 10 years ago ....., said he hopes to gain custody of Mariah.

"That's my daughter, all I got left now," Stephens said. "He took everybody else."
..Source.. by

Murder suspect. Killed in a shoot-out with Columbus, Ohio police:

Sunday, May 1, 2011 02:35 PM

Randle L. Roberts, 27, was killed on the front stoop of his mother's home at 1939 Genessee Ave. after exchanging gunfire with police. A second man with Roberts, whose name has not been released, was wounded.

Police said they had been looking for Roberts since he shot up two North Linden homes, on Hiawatha and Oaklawn streets, after 10 a.m. Saturday.

They tracked him back to his mother's house, where he came out the front door shooting, witnesses said.

Police learned only later that Roberts was suspected of killing four members of his wife's family in Adams County, likely on Friday night. He had been staying there to avoid pending charges in Franklin and Delaware counties, relatives said.

Here is what authorities and relatives say happened in Adams County (Ohio):

About 10:30 a.m., 8-year-old Mariah Stephens awoke to find something wrong with the rest of her family. She ran to a neighbor's house for help.

Authorities responded to the home, which is owned by a man named Beaucifus Stephens. Inside they found the dead: Kendra Stephens, Beau's wife; their 11-year-old daughter, Harley Stephens; Beau's sister, Sonya Stephens; and Beau's father, George Stephens, who was disabled.

The family Chihuahua, Leo, also had been shot but was alive.

Relatives of the Stephenses said last night that Roberts' wife, Tiffany Walters, is Beau Stephens' niece.

Sheriff Rogers said George Stephens was found dead in a recliner in the living room. The mother and daughter were found together in one bedroom, and Beau's sister was in another bedroom.

Authorities confirmed that Roberts was the man killed by police in Columbus by identifying his multiple tattoos. Beau Stephens was in Adams County and would not talk to reporters.

Although there is much more to do to piece the story together and figure out why Roberts left such a trail of violence, authorities know some things already.

Sheriff Rogers said Roberts fled Adams County in his wife's Chevrolet Blazer.

He made it as far as the intersection of Cook Yankeetown Road and Rt. 62 near the Fayette/Madison county line. He abandoned the SUV in a ditch. Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth said one of his deputies found the Blazer there about 3 p.m. yesterday.

The pickup truck that Roberts was driving in Columbus - the one he crashed through the fence at Genessee and Joyce - was stolen from a home up the road from where that Blazer was abandoned, Stanforth said.

Then, it is thought, Roberts made his way to Columbus.

Just after 10 a.m. yesterday, police got a call of shots fired into a home at 2639 Hiawatha St. Officers went to investigate. While there, a report of shots fired into a house at 3468 Oaklawn St. came in.

This time, witnesses gave police a vehicle description. Mifflin Township police officers soon spotted the truck, and there was a short pursuit.

Police said last night that they still didn't know the connection - if any - between Roberts and the homes on Hiawatha and Oaklawn and why he might have targeted them.

Police SWAT teams yesterday morning also, for some time, were hunting around 2116 Minnesota Ave., not far from the other scenes. That's where they thought Roberts might have been heading and, quite possibly, where his wife was staying.

No one was found hurt or in trouble at that address, although the activity added another street to the long list of places where residents were running scared.

For more than two hours, while police made certain that no one else in the several-block area was injured and that no more suspects were on the loose, SWAT vehicles rumbled down the streets and heavily-armed officers stood ready at every corner and nook and cranny.

Helicopters buzzed overhead, and officers repeatedly warned the dozens and dozens of curious people who roamed the sidewalks and surrounded almost every inch of the cordoned-off area that they should go back inside.

But by mid-afternoon, the tension eased and the hundreds of officers, detectives and investigators who had answered the call for help began to trickle away.

By 2 p.m. or so, Weiner said everyone was confident that Roberts had been their man.

Even before yesterday, Roberts had a history here. He had burglary charges pending against him in courts in Franklin and Delaware counties from October and December, court records show.

Gilbert, the police union president, said late yesterday that he was learning more information about Roberts and his background. When the whole story becomes public, people will hail every officer involved as a hero, he said.

"When this was unfolding, they didn't yet know he had already murdered four people," Gilbert said. "But this was a multiple murderer with nothing to lose. This was a man who, by the time he got here, wanted to kill police officers and tried very hard to do that."

While the officers involved recover, and relatives and friends of the Stephens family grieve, and those who knew Roberts grapple with the why, investigators will continue to piece together the puzzle.

And the residents of the neighborhood - one that, by their own admission is no stranger to gunshots, violence and crime - no doubt will talk about and dissect for days how lucky everyone was that the carnage wasn't worse.

James Savannah, who lives on Joyce Avenue, a few doors from where everything happened, pointed out that it all went down before noon on a warm and sunny Saturday morning, one of the first of those we've seen in a while.

Children were out playing and people were walking the streets when the gunfire broke out.

"We hear and see gunfire out here a lot, that's for sure," Savannah said. "But this wasn't nothing like normal. These were big guns, lots of guns and everybody was shooting, and kids out here and all. I'm happy it wasn't worse."

Gilbert, having spent part of the afternoon at the bedside of three wounded officers, agreed: "As awful as this is for everyone involved, it could have been so, so much worse." ..Source.. By Holly Zachariah, Mary Beth Lane and Collin Binkley

West Union gunman vowed no surrender


It all ended for Randle Lee Roberts II at the same Columbus home he grew up in.

Just hours after allegedly killing four of his estranged wife's family members in Adams County Saturday morning, Roberts fled to the North Side house where his mother and brother still live.

After crashing the truck behind a nearby church -one he allegedly stole from a Fayette County home-and exchanging gunfire with a police officer, he ran to his childhood home.

Authorities said Roberts was fully expecting to die.

"He got inside the house with his mom, brother and step-dad," Adams County Sheriff Kim Rogers said. "They apparently tried to get him to give up his gun. But he told everyone that he wasn't going to go to jail. He said he would die first."

Roberts stepped out on the front porch of the home, two semi-automatic hand guns blazing, and shot three officers before he was shot dead by return fire. His brother, Jeffrey, who stepped out onto the front porch, was also reportedly shot in the leg by a stray bullet.

So it was here where Roberts' several-hour reign of terror came to an end. However, the fallout from the carnage he left behind in Adams County was just beginning.

At around 10:30 a.m. - about the same time Roberts began shooting up houses in Columbus before arriving at his mother's - 8-year-old Mariah Stephens awoke to find her family dead. Authorities responded to the home, owned by Beau Stephens, and found the bodies of Kendra Stephens, Beau's wife; their 11-year-old daughter, Harley Stephens; Beau's sister, Sonya Stephens; and Beau's father, George Stephens, who was disabled.

Many who knew Roberts say he had been in trouble with the law before, but also never thought he was capable of cold-blooded murder. And the question remains: What triggered this kind of reaction?

We may never know, said Sheriff Rogers. "We still don't have a motive in the killings," he said. "We do know that he told the 8-year-old girl to go to another room and that she wouldn't get hurt before he killed the rest of them."

George Payne, the father of Roberts' estranged wife, Tiffany Walters, has an idea as to why he spared Mariah's life. "He always liked Mariah," George said. "I think he was always fond of her. But we never thought he was capable of something like this. He was always a very smart and talented person. This is a side of Randle that nobody's every seen before."

What George did know is that Roberts had a prescription drug addiction and that he was a fugitive from justice on several criminal charges.

"We called CrimeStoppers on April 11 and let them know where Randle was staying," George said. "But I guess no one followed up on it. This all could have been avoided if someone had done their job. (Randle) had to have back surgery and then he got addicted to Percocet and Oxycontin. I know that put him in a bad way."

The Adam's County Sheriff's Office also confirmed that Roberts had a prescription drug problem. "We learned that he was committing thefts to support his habit," said Sheriff Rogers.

Roberts allegedly developed this addiction sometime in 2010 and in the fall of 2010, a man believed to be Roberts and an accomplice were reportedly seen on surveillance video breaking into money machines at a Columbus car wash. The Central Ohio CrimeStoppers posted a $2,000 reward in January for information leading to an arrest in that case.

On Dec. 15, 2010, Roberts was allegedly seen on surveillance video leaving a van and attempting to break into a home in Galena. This led to an indictment by a Delaware County grand jury on Jan. 7, 2011 on two counts of burglary. Roberts was released from the Delaware County Jail on Jan. 5 on a $7,500 surety bond.

Prior to his crime spree in late 2010, online records do not show any prison stints for Roberts.

"With so many crimes today, it all traces back to prescription pills," said Sheriff Rogers. "It's a bigger problem than anything else right now."

Following the quadruple-killing Saturday, Roberts fled Adams County in his Kendra Stephens' Chevrolet Blazer and made it to the intersection of State Route 62 and Cook-Yankeetown Road in Fayette County, where the vehicle ran out of gas. He abandoned the SUV in a ditch and Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth said one of his deputies found it at around 3 p.m. Saturday.

The Blazer is now in the hands of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation in Columbus.

After abandoning the Blazer, Roberts stole a pickup truck from a home just up the road from where he left the Blazer. From there Roberts made his way to Columbus, where authorities tracked him down to his childhood home.

"We let Columbus police know he just murdered four people," said Sheriff Rogers. "It was important for them to know that this man had nothing to lose."

By this time however, Roberts was already in Columbus initiating another cycle of violence that would lead to his death - in front of the house he grew up in. ..Source.. by Ryan Carter, Assistant Editor

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