LAKE WALES, Fla. (TCD) — A 37-year-old man was arrested Monday for allegedly killing his 16-year-old son with an angle grinder, causing “deep lacerations” all over the teen’s body.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd spoke at a press briefing Monday, Sept. 4, and shared details about the “horrific” incident that occurred at a mobile home in Lake Wales. According to Judd, the victim, Stephen Rodda, lived with his grandfather, Thomas, while Thomas’ wife was in rehab. Thomas’ son and the suspect, Stephen Thomas Rodda, was also at the residence that morning.
On Monday at about 8 a.m., Thomas Rodda left to go visit his wife at rehab. He got home about three hours later and saw Stephen Thomas Rodda outside, who allegedly told Thomas Rodda, “I wouldn’t go in there if I was you. I killed someone. You may need to call the police.”
Thomas Rodda went inside the home and found his grandson Stephen Rodda deceased in the dining room.
According to the arrest affidavit, Stephen Rodda was lying in a “pool of blood” with cuts on his arm, abdomen, head, ear, and other parts of his body. Deputies found hair in the victim’s left hand, his teeth on the ground, and an angle grinder with a broken saw next to his body.
Judd said Thomas Rodda claimed it was “not uncommon for his son to talk bizarre” because he used meth and suffered from psychotic episodes.
Stephen Thomas Rodda reportedly fled the scene before deputies arrived, but they soon caught him about a mile away. He allegedly told deputies, “You probably need to read me my rights.”
Stephen Thomas Rodda has ties to other states including South Carolina, Texas, and Ohio, and Judd said he was “leaving the area.”
Judd described Stephen Rodda as a “standout, stellar young man,” explaining he was due to start work at Burger King in a week because he wanted to save money to buy a car. Stephen Rodda was a junior in high school and his “dream in life” was to become an electrician.
Stephen Thomas Rodda was booked into the Polk County Jail for first-degree murder.
Judd said at the news conference, “To have this worthless individual murder his son is inexplicable.”
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