‘Nasty, evil person’: Father accused of killing teen son with power tool

Posted at 9:13 AM, September 6, 2023

LAKE WALES, Fla. (Court TV/Scripps News Tampa Bay) — A Florida man is accused of killing his teenage son with an angle grinder, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Stephen Thomas Rodda, 37, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 16-year-old Stephen Lee Rodda.

stephen rodda mugshot

This Sept. 4, 2023, booking photo provided by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office shows Stephen Thomas Rodda, accused of murdering his 16-year-old son. (Polk County Sheriff’s Office)

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.

Rodda allegedly 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.

“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 teenager 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, 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.

This story was originally published by Scripps News Tampa Bay, an E.W. Scripps Company.