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'Nasty evil person': Father kills 16-year-old son in Polk County, sheriff says

Posted at 7:12 PM, Sep 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-05 19:12:22-04

LAKE WALES, Fla. — An investigation is underway in Polk County after authorities said a man killed his 16-year-old son Monday morning in Lake Wales.

According to the sheriff's office, Stephen Lee Rodda was murdered by his father, who shares the same name.

Authorities said the teenager lived with his grandfather, who left the house that day around 8 a.m. When he came home about three hours later, authorities said his son, Stephen Thomas Rodda met him outside.

According to the sheriff's office, Rodda told his father, "I wouldn't go in there if I were you. I killed someone. You may need to call the police."

Rodda's father then entered the house and found his grandson dead in the kitchen/dining room area, authorities said.

Stephen Thomas Rodda left the house. He was found by deputies about a mile away before being taken into custody. He's charged with first-degree murder.

"When we took him into custody, he told our deputy, ‘You probably need to read me my rights.’ And that’s exactly what we did,” said Sheriff Grady Judd.

Sheriff Judd said the Frostproof High School student had a lot to look forward to.

“He was to start work next week at Burger King to earn money so that he could buy a car,” said Judd.

He was also studying to be an electrician, which was his dream job, according to Judd.

Authorities believe Rodda used an angle grinder, which is a handheld power tool, to kill his son.

“We don’t know why he did what he did today [Monday], other than he’s a nasty, nasty evil person,” said Judd.

Rodda has an outstanding warrant in South Carolina, with a criminal history that spans "all over the United States," according to Judd.

The sheriff's office said Rodda also has a history of methamphetamine use dating back to high school, as well as psychotic episodes.

“We lost a great young man, and we’ve got an evil, evil man in custody, and we’re going to do our best to see that he spends the rest of his life in prison,” said Judd.

According to PCSO, this is the second incident in almost a week in Polk County where a parent killed their own child. A woman killed her two children, a 10-year-old and a 19-year-old, on Aug. 27.