According to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, the boy, identified as Stephen Lee Rodda, was temporarily living with his grandfather, Thomas Rodda, to help him out while his grandmother was in rehab.
On Sept. 4, Thomas spent several hours visiting his wife. When he returned home, his son, Stephen Thomas Rodda, was standing outside his home, officials said.
“I wouldn’t go in there if I was you,” Stephen Thomas told his father, Judd said. “I killed someone. You may need to call the police.”
Despite the warning, Thomas entered the residence and found his grandson dead. Stephen Thomas fled the scene, but deputies were able to catch up with him about a mile away, authorities said.
Sheriff Judd said investigators revealed the suspect used a “heavy-duty saw,” or an angle grinder, to kill his son.
“It breaks our heart. There aren’t adequate words to explain how horrific this event is,” Judd said in a press conference of the "stand-up, stellar young man."
Stephen Lee was a junior in high school and was slated to begin a job at Burger King because he wanted to purchase a vehicle, officials said.
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Stephen Thomas has a lengthy criminal history, including an outstanding warrant in South Carolina, according to authorities.
The grandfather told police Stephen Thomas has used methamphetamine since high school and it was not uncommon for him to have psychotic episodes and make “bizarre” comments, Judd said.
“This guy has been nothing but a problem to society for a very long time,” 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.”
Judd added the motive for the murder is still under investigation.
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