• Exclusive: Mandarin Bonefish murder suspect says murder was accident

    By: Bridgette Matter , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    PHOTOS: Bonefish Grill manager arrested for murder

    Lee Rodarte is accused in the murder of 21-year-old Savannah Gold. The two had an on and off relationship and both worked at a Bonefish Grill in Mandarin, where Rodarte was a manager.

    When he was interviewed by police, Rodarte kept changing his story. Police said Rodarte confessed to the killing, and led them to Gold’s body in August 2016. Gold was found in a body of water at the end of Club Duclay Road.


    WATCH: Police release interrogation video of Bonefish Grill murder suspect


    Police say Gold got into Rodarte’s car in the parking lot of the Bonefish Grill before Savannah’s shift.

    The two had a fight, and there was a struggle inside of the car. JSO says Rodarte then slashed a tire on Gold’s car before driving away. Savannah Gold

    Gold was never seen exiting the car. Gold’s parents received strange text messages from Gold’s phone, the messages had misspelled words and said she was running away with a guy she met and would call later. 

    Rodarte has been in the Duval County Jail since he was arrested in August.

    Action News Jax reporter Bridgette Matter sat down with Rodarte for a face-to-face interview in the jail.


    RELATED: Sister of Savannah Gold murder suspect jailed for 2016 murder


    Rodarte would not talk about the murder, except that it was an accident and after he “freaked out.”

    Rodarte said he thought Savannah was a nice girl and the two had been in a relationship. He said they planned to meet in the parking lot of the Bonefish, when an argument ensued.

    Rodarte said he confessed to police because he knew the right thing to do was tell the truth. He said he told police multiple stories because he was scared, but there was never another man or vehicle that Savannah got into, which is a lie he told police.


    RELATED: Savannah Gold murder suspect showed 'remorse' during calls from jail, ex-girlfriend says 


    When asked about facing prison time, Rodarte said he knows there are consequences he will have to face and is not trying to run away from them.

    Rodarte claims what happened with Gold was not intentional, and he feels sorry for Gold’s family. 

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