Because she always wondered who her birth mother was, Savannah Leckie, 16, did some research and found out it was Rebecca Ruud. Although she loved her adoptive parents, Leckie wanted to meet the woman who gave birth to her. It was only natural and something many adopted children want to do. Leckie knew that meeting her biological mom would teach her more about herself and the woman she would someday become. She reached out to Ruud and with the support of her adoptive parents, scheduled a meeting. She looked forward to the special reunion for days. But that heartwarming occasion quickly turned deadly after Rebecca Ruud allegedly killed her biological daughter in cold blood. Now she is facing first-degree murder charges among others.
Prosecutors are not holding back their punches with Ruud. Because police found the remains of 16-year-old Leckie in a fire pit on Ruud’s property, they charged the girl’s biological mom with murder.
Besides that charge, Ruud also faces counts of abuse of a child resulting in death, second-degree murder and felony murder, tampering with physical evidence and abandoning a corpse.
Investigators quickly arrived at Ruud’s property after Leckie was reported missing. She had recently reunited with Ruud when she suddenly went missing.
Police quickly found teeth, fragments of Leckie’s bones, a meat grinder, a knife wiped of DNA evidence, and 26 bottles of lye. Ruud had clearly done her work to hide her biological daughter’s corpse as well as she could. She used the lye to accelerate the breakdown of Leckie’s biological tissue.
It was easy for investigators to confirm that the body parts belonged to Leckie with a DNA test.
Besides the abundant physical evidence, Ruud’s boyfriend at the time told police that he watched her force the teen through a hog pen and bathe in pond water as a punishment.
Although Leckie was adopted at birth, she maintained contact with Ruud throughout her childhood. But in November 2016, her adoptive parents divorced and Leckie decided to go live with Ruud.
Police are horrified at what this mother did to her biological daughter.
“This had to happen way before we were really ready for it. This is going to be a long, hard investigation, and it’s going to continue for several months. We had to speed up the process yesterday because of a flight risk with one of the key suspects [Ruud],” Ozark County Sheriff Darrin Reed told Ozark County Times. “We were here working with the prosecutor last night, and we’ve continued all day today. It’s been a tough case. It’s been tough on us all.”
Ruud works as a Theodosia Area VFD firefighter. And on July 19, she called in a fire on her property. The first responder said he saw a young woman who must have been Savannah at the property. While at the scene, Ruud showed them a burn she got from another brush fire. They helped treat the wound with the first aid kit in the truck. She later posted a picture of her burn wound writing, “I had a brush fire get out of control day before yesterday. I got burned bad, [Savannah] is blaming herself… I think that’s why she ran.”
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