Father arrested for killing 16-year-old son with power tool

The teen lived with his grandfather at the home where he was killed

Graig Graziosi
Tuesday 05 September 2023 15:18 EDT

Sheriff: Father kills 16-year-old son

A father in Polk County, Florida allegedly killed his 16-year-old son with a power tool, according to police.

Stephen Thomas Rodda, 37, is facing charges for the murder of his son, who was also named Stephen, according to WESH NBC2. He allegedly committed the killing with an angle grinder, a hand-held power tool that can be used to cut through hard materials, generally metal.

“It breaks our heart,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. “There aren’t adequate words to explain how horrific this event is.”

The teen lived with his grandfather, Thomas Rodda, in Lake Wales. The grandfather came home to find Mr Rodda outside, who allegedly told him not to go inside because he "killed someone."

When Thomas Rodda entered the house, he found his grandson dead in the dining room, according to the New York Post.

Police eventually caught Mr Rodda fleeing on Highway 60, where he was taken into custody.

The suspect has a long criminal history, as well as an outstanding warrant in South Carolina, according to Mr Judd.

“This guy has been nothing but a problem to society for a very long time,” Mr Judd said. “And now, he’s turned a problemed person into an evil person when he murdered his son and created a horrible set of circumstances for a loving family.”

Stephen Rodda, 37, is accused of killing his 16-year-old son with an angle grinder in Polk County, Florida

Mr Judd said the teen was just about to start a job at Burger King before he was murdered.

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

The teen reportedly helped his grandparents at their home. His grandmother was recovering in rehab, and he picked up chores around the house. He was hoping to save up to buy a car, according to Mr Judd.

This is the second time a parent has been accused of killing their child in Polk County in about a week.

On 27 August, Brandy Hutchins, 43, killed her two children before dying as a result of suicide. She was embroiled in a custody dispute prior to the murders.

“I can’t remember it happening twice in eight days,” Mr Judd said. “There’s no words to explain that."

Police are still trying to determine a motive.

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