JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man has been arrested and accused of car theft as police continue to investigate the death of a man whose body was found at a vacant Eastside home under renovation, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said.
Roderick Fields, 41, has been accused of stealing the car that belonged to the contract worker found murdered and burned in a home on East 24th Street near Danese Street.
The state fire marshal confirmed the residence was set on fire after an arson K-9 detected the presence of gasoline.
The victim was one of the workers hired for the renovation project. According to investigators, the victim’s boss had not seen him since Aug. 27, and his Ford Flex was reported missing.
A neighbor who spoke with the victim’s boss told us about that conversation.
“He told us there were suspicious characters outside of the home, that he got a text message from the construction worker,” said neighbor Brittaney Rimkus.
Police have not released the victim’s name. They said he’d been tied up with an extension cord.
“It was a surreal thing knowing it just happened next door to us and something so gruesome can happen,” said Bryan Allen, a neighbor.
JSO said it used a license plate reader to track the car, and the tracker picked up on several locations, including an Exxon gas station on Main Street Saturday night.
Detectives said they reviewed surveillance video from the gas station and saw Fields filling a red gas can at the pump. Investigators said they spotted Fields driving the car on Aug. 30 in Springfield. They said when he got out of the vehicle, he was carrying shoes that had blood on them, and that blood was also found in the victim’s car.
When Fields was searched, he had keys to the house on East 24th Street in his pocket, so JSO took him downtown to be questioned.
Fields is only charged with car theft. The arrest report states Fields admitted to being in the victim’s care with another unidentified man. JSO did not state whether they are considering Fields as a suspect in the homicide investigation.
According to court records, Fields is an ex-convict with convictions for drugs, armed robbery and aggravated battery. He was recently released from prison on July 29 after he was convicted on cocaine charges.