A man from Florida, Stephan Thomas Rodda, 37, was apprehended on Monday, accused of the brutal murder of his teenage son using a heavy-duty saw known as an angle grinder. The incident occurred in a mobile home in Polk County, with the suspect attempting to escape the scene on Old Bartow Road in Lake Wales.
The victim, 16-year-old Stephen Lee Rodda, was an 11th-grade student at Frostproof High School. The Polk County Sheriff, Grady Judd, expressed his shock and horror at the incident, labeling the father as “evil” during a press briefing.
The teenager was living with his 67-year-old grandfather, Thomas Rodda, in the mobile home to assist him while his grandmother was in a rehabilitation facility. The grandfather, who had left the house on Monday morning to visit his wife, returned to find the suspect at the scene. Stephan allegedly confessed to the murder, advising Thomas to call the police.
The grandfather reported to investigators that the suspect was known for making unusual remarks. Upon entering his home, Thomas discovered his grandson’s lifeless body in the dining area. Preliminary investigations suggest that the father used an angle grinder to commit the heinous act.
Sheriff Judd expressed his disbelief at the incident, stating, “To have this worthless individual murder his son is inexplicable.” The motive behind the murder is still under investigation.
The suspect, Stephan Thomas Rodda, has a significant criminal record, having lived in various states, including Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington, D.C. He had moved to Lake Wales about a month prior to the incident. There was an outstanding warrant for his arrest in South Carolina, but due to the minor nature of the charge, extradition was not pursued.
The suspect also has a history of methamphetamine use dating back to his high school days and has experienced previous psychotic episodes. Sheriff Judd expressed his condolences to the family, vowing to ensure that the suspect faces justice.