On August 2, 2017, Savvanah Gold was last seen on security cameras leaving her car and entering the car of her manager, Lee Rodarte, at the restaurant she worked at, Bone Fish. They had an on-again off-again relationship; though Rodarte primarily dated someone else.
Within minutes of entering Rodarte’s car, Savvanah’s mother and brother received text messages from her phone, written in a way that Savvanah would not write, with various spelling errors. The text message to her mother read:
“Hey I just eanted to tell you and mom I met a really great guy and we are running away together I love him and we are leaving to ight ill call you later when we get tk where we are glong”
The text message to her brother read:
“Heyi quit im leavingwith my boyfriend I cant do this shit anything im fine justwant to get away”
This immediately alarmed her family who later filed a missing person’s report. Soon, the police reviewed security footage showing Lee Rodarte’s vehicle doors being kicked open three times after he gets into the back of his vehicle with her. She is never seen leaving his vehicle.
In a police interrogation, he says he went to Bone Fish knowing her shift was about to start to tell her to stop spreading rumors about their intimate relationship because it was upsetting his girlfriend. The situation escalated and he slashed her tire and murdered her. Examiners were not able to determine her cause of death but did say her hyaline cartilage was fractured and that her death was certainly a homicide. Lee Rodarte claims as the struggle ensued in the back of his vehicle, he felt something “pop” in her neck.
Lee Rodarte has filed a “Stand Your Ground” claim with the First District Court of Appeal, resulting in his trial being delayed.