POLK COUNTY, Florida (WJW) – A Florida sheriff announced the arrest of a man who is charged with the murder of his teenage son.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested Stephen Thomas Rodda, 37, on Labor Day Monday.
Around 11:15 a.m., the sheriff’s office said it received a call from a man who said he found his grandson, 16-year-old Stephen Lee Rodda in a pool of blood.
Stephen Lee was a junior in high school. He was set to start work next week to earn money for a car.
“Not just a good kid, but a great kid. In fact, he was living with his grandfather to help him out while his grandmother was in rehab,” Polk County Sheriff Judd Grady said at a news conference.
The father, Stephen Thomas, showed up a few months ago, the sheriff said.
The grandpa had gone out that morning around 8 a.m. When he returned a few hours later, his son, Stephen Thomas Rodda told him not to go inside, according to the affidavit.
“Should probably call the police,” Stephen Thomas Rodda said. “Just killed somebody.”
The details from the affidavit are graphic and disturbing.
“Polk County Deputies and Polk County EMS responded to the scene and found Stephen Lee Rodda (victim) deceased in the dining area of the residence. The victim suffered a deep laceration to the underside of his left arm, lacerations to his left eyebrow and left ear, superficial lacerations to his abdomen and three deep lacerations to the back of his head. The victim was missing some teeth, which were located near his body. Apparent human hair was found in the victim’s left hand. Blood spatter was visible on the wall near his body and head. A handheld angle grinder was located next to the victim, with a broken saw blade on the ground.”
Angle grinders are a power tool with a rapidly rotating disc that can cut and grind through materials like mortar and metal.
When deputies arrived, the suspect, Stephen Thomas Rodda had left the home but was arrested walking down a highway with blood on his jeans.
He’s being held without bond.
“We tragically lost Stephen Lee to a horrible nightmare,” a GoFundMe page states about the teen victim.
“He was taken away from us at the age of 16, by his own father’s hands,” the organizer wrote.
She said the fundraiser was for a proper burial.
“Stephen loved playing video games and spending time with his family,” his obituary reads. “He was devoted to taking care of his grandmother and had a close bond with his friends and family. He was so amazing in so many ways and didn’t have a mean bone in his body.”
A celebration of life service will be held for Stephen Lee this weekend.