A 16-year-old Frostproof High School student was killed by his father Monday morning at his grandfather’s home in Lake Wales, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.
“In what’s been eight days’ time, we have another parent that has murdered their child,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in a Monday afternoon news conference from the scene.
Stephen Thomas Rodda, 37, was arrested a mile west of the crime scene on State Road 60. Judd said he was fleeing the area. He was living with his father, Thomas Rodda, 65, in the 2500 block of Old Bartow Road in Lake Wales. His son, Stephen Lee Rodda, 16, was also living at the residence, Judd said.
The 16-year-old was an 11th-grader at Frostproof High School who was to start work next week at Burger King so he could buy a car, Judd said. He was studying to become an electrician, “his dream in life.”
Judd said the younger Rodda “was a great kid.”
“Not just a good kid, a great kid. In fact, he 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.
His father, Stephen Thomas Rodda, showed up about a month ago, Judd said.
“We ask, ‘Where’s he been?’ He’s been in D.C., he’s been South Carolina, he’s been in Ohio, he’s been in Texas. There was even an outstanding warrant for Stephen Thomas Rodda in South Carolina, but South Carolina would not extradite, so he couldn’t be arrested.”
Judd said Thomas Rodda, left about 8 a.m. to visit his wife in rehab. When he returned about 11 a.m. Monday, he was met outside by his son, the suspect.
“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. The sheriff said Thomas Rodda told detectives “it was not uncommon” for his son to make bizarre statements.
Thomas Rodda went into the home and found his grandson dead in the dining room. Judd said it appears in the early stages of the investigation that an angle grinder was used to kill the teenager.
Judd said investigators don’t yet know the motive for the attack. But he said the family said the suspect had used methamphetamine since at least high school and had a history of psychotic episodes.
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“We lost a great young man today. And we have an evil, evil man in custody,” Judd said.
It was the second time in a little over a week that a child was killed by a parent. On Aug. 27, the Sheriff’s Office found Brandy Hutchins, 43, of Waverly, dead along with her 10-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter. Her husband, who lives in Maine, had been awarded custody, and detectives said Hutchins killed herself and both children.
This article originally appeared on The Ledger: 16-year-old Frostproof student killed by father, Polk sheriff says