[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
A 16-year-old boy is dead and his father stands accused of murdering him — with a “pretty heavy duty saw,” no less, according to Florida law enforcement officers.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd revealed in a press conference on Monday night that 37-year-old Stephen Thomas Rodda (pictured above left, in mugshot) has been arrested by deputies after allegedly murdering his son, Stephen Rodda. The younger Rodda (above right) had been staying with his grandfather when the accused killer showed up at their home in the city of Lake Wales “about a month ago” with “no place else to go,” per Judd.
For a few weeks, all went well. But on Labor Day, the grandfather left home to visit his wife, who the sheriff reported was staying in a drug rehab facility. When the man returned hours later, the accused killer allegedly made this chilling statement to his father (and the teen’s grandfather):
“I wouldn’t go in there if I was you. I killed someone. You may need to call the police.”
At first, the teen’s grandfather wasn’t thrown by the remark. He told cops it was “not uncommon” for his 37-year-old son to “talk bizarre,” and that the man had a long history of meth use leading to unsettling statements. But when the grandfather walked inside, that’s when he saw the horror: his teenage grandson was dead in the dining room.
During Tuesday’s press conference with various central Florida media outlets, Sheriff Judd said detectives believe the death was caused by an angle grinder or another “pretty heavy duty saw.”
After the grandfather found the boy’s body, the accused killer fled the scene. But the grandfather called the police, and deputies immediately swooped in. Sheriff Judd said:
“When we took him into custody, he told our deputy, ‘you probably want to read me my rights,’ and that’s exactly what we did. It breaks our heart. There aren’t adequate words to explain how horrific this event is. To have this worthless individual murder his son is inexplicable.”
Emotional about the incident, the sheriff went on:
“We don’t know yet why Stephen Thomas Rodda attacked and murdered his son. The world lost a great young man today and we’ve got an evil, evil man in custody and we’re gonna do our best to see he spends the rest of his life in prison.”
According to Sheriff Judd, the accused Rodda has a criminal history that extends “all over the United States.” The man’s record includes run-ins with the law in Ohio, Texas, and Washington DC. Judd also reported that upon arresting Rodda, deputies found he was the subject of an active warrant in South Carolina, too.
“This guy has been nothing but a problem to society for a very long time. We don’t know why he did what he did today, other than he’s a nasty, nasty, evil person. … The family is just in absolute total shock.”
Here is more on this terrible story (below):
Just awful. We send our condolences to the teenager’s family, friends, and loved ones.