Exclusive: Mandarin Bonefish murder suspect says murder was accident

Bonefish murder suspect talks

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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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