Father accused of killing 16-year-old son with angle grinder
LAKE WALES, Fla. (Gray News) - In a case that a Florida sheriff calls “inexplicable,” a father was arrested after he allegedly killed his 16-year-old son with an angle grinder.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a news conference Monday that 37-year-old Stephen Thomas Rodda was taken into custody after he allegedly killed his 16-year-old son, Stephen Lee Rodda, at a mobile home in Lake Wales.
The 16-year-old was living with his grandfather, Thomas Rodda, to help him out while his grandmother was in rehab.
According to the sheriff, Thomas Rodda spent several hours Monday morning visiting his wife. When he returned home about 11 a.m., the suspect met him outside the mobile home.
Judd says the suspect told his father, “I wouldn’t go in there if I was you. I killed someone. You may need to call the police.”
The grandfather went into the home and found his grandson dead. The sheriff says it appears the suspect used an angle grinder, which he described as “a heavy-duty saw,” in the alleged murder.
“It breaks our heart. There aren’t adequate words to explain how horrific this event is,” Judd said.
The elder Stephen Rodda was taken into custody about a mile from the scene. The sheriff alleges he was trying to flee the area.
Judd says the younger Stephen Rodda was a junior at Frostproof High School. He was studying to be an electrician and was due to start work at Burger King next week to earn money to buy a car, according to his family.
“He was just a stand-up, stellar young man,” Judd said. “Our prayers are with the family, and I want you to know that the world lost a great young man today.”
The sheriff says a motive for the alleged murder is still under investigation.
He added that the elder Stephen Rodda has an extensive criminal history, including an outstanding warrant in South Carolina. The family told him the suspect has used methamphetamine since high school and has psychotic episodes, the sheriff said.
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