MONDAY, AUG. 7: Murder suspect's sister faces unrelated murder charge
MONDAY, AUG. 7: Savannah Gold's parents have message to accused killer
PHOTO GALLERY: Memorial quickly growing at site where body found
A body believed to be the remains of missing Jacksonville woman Savannah Gold were found late Saturday, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said.
The body was found in a pond off Club Duclay Road — near Blanding Blvd. — in west Jacksonville.
Gold’s coworker at Bonefish Grill, manager Lee Rodarte, 28, became a suspect after discrepancies were found in his story, JSO said.
Traffic tickets issued to Rodarte in 2006 show that he once lived on the same street where the body was found.
Rodarte appeared in court Sunday after being booked on charges including murder and tampering with evidence. A judge said he is being held without bond on the murder charge.
JSO said Gold got into Rodarte’s car in the parking lot of the restaurant on Wednesday evening before her shift.
They apparently had a fight. The two had an off-and-on relationship, JSO said.
A struggle ensued, JSO said, and Rodarte appeared to take an object and slash the tire of Gold’s car. After a few minutes, he drove away in his own car, JSO said.
Rodarte was arrested at the Mandarin restaurant located just off I-295 on Saturday night.
According to JSO, Rodarte admitted to killing Gold and disposing of her body in the pond at the end of Club Duclay Road.
Rodarte led police to the body, JSO said. An autopsy is pending to confirm the remains are that of Gold and to determine cause of death.
JSO said video surveillance showed a possible struggle inside Rodarte's car. On the video, JSO said, Rodarte could be seen walking to Gold's car, opening a door and looking inside.
JSO said Rodarte returned to his car and drove off at 6:04 p.m. Gold was never seen exiting the car, JSO said.
The company that owns Bonefish Grill released a statement Sunday:
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Savannah and will miss the joy and happiness she brought to work every day. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with family and friends during this difficult time, including the people she worked with here at Bonefish Grill."
The restaurant put a sign on their door Sunday that said they were closed.
Gold was quickly reported missing Wednesday after she didn't show up for her shift at Bonefish Grill on San Jose Boulevard.
About 30 minutes after Gold was supposed to be at work, her father Daniel said he got a text from Gold’s phone. It had misspelled words and said she was running away with a great guy she met and would call them later.
That was the moment Gold's parents said they knew something was wrong.
“He showed it to me and I immediately knew that it wasn’t her," Sharon Gold said. "We text each other all day and every day … and this was not from my daughter. It was from someone else."
Gold's aunt created a GoFundMe account Sunday to raise money for funeral expenses.
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