A 16-year-old boy was killed in a Florida home by someone wielding a “heavy duty” electric saw, and the prime suspect is his father, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Stephen Thomas Rodda, 37, has been charged with first-degree murder, officials said.
The killing happened Monday, Sept. 4, at a home in Lake Wales and Rodda was captured about a mile west as he tried to escape, Sheriff Grady Judd said during a news conference. Lake Wales is about 60 miles east of Tampa.
“We don’t know why he did what he did today,” Judd said. “Was he on drugs today? We don’t know. … There aren’t adequate words to explain how horrific this event is.”
The victim was identified as Stephen Lee Rodda of Lake Wales, and he was an 11th grader at Frostproof Middle-Senior High School with aspirations of being an electrician, Judd said.
His cause of death was not released, but the weapon used to kill him was “a pretty heavy duty” grinder saw, which is a power tool used to cut rebar, metal pipes and metal studs, according to Pro Tool Review.
Investigators say the killing occurred at the home of the teen’s 65-year-old grandfather, Thomas Rodda.
“Stephen Rodda (the victim) was living with his grandfather to help him out while his grandmother was in rehab. That’s the kind of kid that Stephen was,” Judd said.
“Stephen Thomas Rodda, his dad, had just shown up about a month ago. … Apparently, he just moves around the countryside and when there was no place else to go, he came to his father’s house.”
The violence occurred Monday morning after Thomas Rodda left the home to visit his wife, officials said.
“When he returned home about 11 o’clock today, he was met outside by our suspect, his son … and his quote was: ‘I wouldn’t go in there if I was you. I killed someone. You may need to call the police,’” Judd said.
Thomas Rodda entered the mobile home and “saw his grandson deceased in the dining room-kitchen area,” Judd said.
“It appears at the early stage of the investigation … that our suspect Stephen Thomas Rodda used an angle grinder to kill his son,” Judd said.
Details of the teen’s relationship with is father were not released, but the boy had been living with his mother prior to offering to help his grandfather, officials said. The teen was just days away from starting a job at a Burger King, where he intended to earn enough money for a car, Judd said.
The suspect “moves around a lot” and appeared to be leaving town when he was arrested by deputies, Judd said.
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