Confessed killer of Savannah Gold, Lee Rodarte, sentenced to 40 years in prison

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The long road to justice has finally come to an end for the family of 21-year-old Savannah Gold.

Lee Rodarte, the man charged with killing the 21-year-old in 2017, was sentenced to 40 years in prison on Thursday.

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Rodarte and Gold worked together at Bonefish Grill in Mandarin and had previously dated.

Prior to Rodarte’s sentencing, Gold’s family read victim impact statements aloud in the courtroom.

“Savannah could have changed countless lives. That was taken from us on Aug. 2, 2017, by Lee Rodarte,” said Savannah’s father, Dan Gold.

“Savannah’s best friend had her first baby a few days ago. While one part of me was happy beyond belief for her, there was a great sadness too. Savannah will never have a baby,” said Savannah’s mother, Sharon Gold.

“I have been living in an emotional pit since then, afraid to open up to anyone. Even now, I struggle to put into words what she truly meant to me,” said Savannah’s brother, Chris Gold.

In February, Lee Rodarte agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder.

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Prosecutors and the defense agreed to a negotiated sentence of 40 years, with credit for time served.

4th Circuit Court Judge Jeb Branham agreed to uphold the negotiated sentence.

Investigators say Rodarte changed his story early on before eventually confessing and leading police to her body.

Police say Gold left home, went work at the Bonefish Grill in Mandarin but never showed up.

JSO found surveillance video of Gold parking her car and getting into Rodarte’s car.

Police said there was a struggle in the car, before Rodarte drove away with Gold inside.

Today, justice arrived for Gold’s family.

“To our family, extended family and community, our hearts have begun to heal because of your love and support,” said Dan Gold after the sentencing hearing. “We love Savannah, and we never realized how many of you did also.”

Below are Savannah’s mother, father, and brother’s victim impact statements: