Security analyst: Catching Steve Stephens will take time

Nationwide manhunt for suspected killer

As authorities continue their manhunt for Steve Stephens, many are wondering what exactly goes into a search of this magnitude. 

Stephens, who's suspected in shooting and killing 74-year old Robert Godwin, Sr., before posting a video of the attack on Facebook, is considered armed and dangerous by authorities. 

Fred Burton, the Vice President of Intelligence for Austin-based global security firm Stratfor, explained these operations take time. 

"It's never like in the movies, I'm afraid," said Burton, who spent decades working with federal authorities prior to joining Stratfor. 

At this stage of the manhunt, Burton said local authorities and federal authorities could still be in the process of syncing up information, and delving into the victim's background. 

"It takes a bit of time to get through his personal network, his family connections, long lost friends and associates," Burton explained. 

A picture of Stephens', as well as his vehicle, have been released to the public.  And while he has eluded authorities so far, Burton said technological advancements makes it tough to stay off the grid for a long period of time.  

"It's very, very difficult to hide in our 'big brother state' as some would call it today, with all the facial recognition software, all the license plate readers on toll roads," said Burton.

READ MORE: Cleveland police made contact with Steve Stephens after Facebook killing

Another point working against Stephens - the spread of information.

With his image blasted through media - both traditional and social - the public can play a major role in helping law enforcement track Stephens down. 

"In all probability, it's going to be a citizen that's going to spot him - or the car that's going to be that tip.  It's probably not going to be law enforcement," Burton said. 

As for their search area, authorities are likely keying in on areas in which Burton has friends or family. 

"(Law enforcement is) hoping to expand that (search) radius. There's a lot of data mining that comes into play. There's a lot of review of like cell phone records and e-mail correspondence, and so forth," said Burton.

But there are difficulties in cases like these. 

Outside of the legal and privacy challenges law enforcement could face in trying to track Stephens' phone, the spread of false sightings or information can spread quickly, and slow down authorities. 

"You can have others piling on and retweet and so forth, and send law enforcement down various rat holes," Burton said. 

Depending on Stephens knowledge of the area, Burton said he could attempt to take back roads to stay off law enforcement's radar and away from license plate trackers. 

READ MORE: Verify: False information circulating in Steve Stephens manhunt

Stephens has claimed there were several other victims, but so far, police have only confirmed one death.  

Burton suggested his conflicting statements make it important that he's captured alive. 

"It's very important, because you want to be able to take statements from him on whether or not that's fact or fiction," said Burton, who added that behind-the-scenes, analysts are likely looking into cold-case files trying to see if there are any similarities to this recent shooting. 

On Monday, Facebook pledged a review of their video policies in light of the graphic posts.  For more on that, click here

For a link to verified information on the ongoing manhunt and investigation, click here

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