THEODOSIA, Mo. — An investigation is currently underway after human remains were found at a farm in Ozark County from where a teen went missing last month.
Ozark County investigators were on the scene Wednesday, serving a search warrant at the property along County Road 905, about 4 miles north of Highway 160 near Theodosia.
The remains were found 1,200 feet from the home where Savannah Leckie, 16, went missing July 20.
Ozark County Sheriff Darrin Reed says he found the pile of burned human bones and teeth August 4th. Wednesday’s search warrant was issued to look for more evidence on the property.
This search is especially significant because Savanna Leckie was reported missing by her mother, Rebecca Ruud.
The sheriff’s office says that Savannah was living here at this property with her mother. Ruud told authorities she woke up that morning to find her daughter missing. Since then she has posted on social media flyers to help locate the missing teen.
I reached out to Ruud today and she said she was advised by her attorney not to speak to anyone about this investigation.
It is not yet confirmed by authorities if the remains found here are those of Leckie. But her father who lives in Minessota posted on social media a photo of Savannah saying “my daughter passed away in Missouri. I’ll forever miss my sweet girl.”
Sheriff Reed tells KOLR10 News investigators saw “red flags” early in this investigation after the Savannah went missing and that’s when they obtained a search warrant for this property.
“We were picking up some red flags from the very beginning that I can’t really go into right now and we came out to the property on a third occasion and we obtained a search warrant I just had a feeling we were going to need it.”
Reed and his investigators were on the property late into the night Wednesday. He says DNA and forensic results will take some time.
Related story by Ozark County Times:
THEODOSIA, Mo.(Ozark County Times)–Ozark County Sheriff Darrin Reed confirmed Thursday that burned skeletal remains have been found on the property of Rebecca Ruud, the biological mother of missing 16-year-old Savannah Leckie. The teen with autism from the Longrun/Ocie area has been missing from her home off County Road 905 since July 20.
Reed said that he currently has a forensics expert analyzing the DNA from the bones, and an odontologist, a scientist specializing in dental identification, analyzing multiple teeth that were also found. Reed hopes the scientists can confirm whether the remains are Savannah’s. Reed said at least one tooth found in the rubble had a filling, and dental records show that Savannah did have fillings.
Reed emphasized that officers cannot comment as to who the remains belong to until the experts release their findings, which could take “some time,” he said.
Officers with the Ozark County Sheriff’s Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol reportedly executed a search warrant on the property Friday, Aug. 4, and discovered the human remains in a burn pile exactly 1,206 feet from the home that Leckie and Ruud lived in. Authorities executed three additional search warrants on the property today, Aug. 9, Reed said.
“The only remains left in the burn pile were bones, no flesh or tissue, and they appeared to have been crushed and burned over and over again. A freshly cut cedar tree had been put on top of the burn pile,” Reed said. “We had two separate anthropologists examine the bones in the last few days, and they both confirmed that they are human remains and those of a human with a small stature matching Savannah’s size.”
Reed said officers found several cigarette butts around the burn pile as if whoever was responsible sat there a long time while smoking.
Savannah was entered into the National Crime Information Center’s Missing Person database on July 20 after her mother, Rebecca Ruud, called the sheriff’s office around 10 a.m. that day to report her missing. Ruud reportedly told the sheriff’s office that Savannah was asleep in her bed around 11 p.m. the night before, but when Ruud awoke around 8 a.m. the next morning, she was gone. Ruud said a neighbor helped her search the family’s farm, but Savannah was nowhere to be found. Ruud has repeatedly posted for help in finding Savannah on her Facebook page, and she has started a Go Fund Me account titled “I need an attorney,” in which Ruud is hoping to raise $20,000. On the crowdfunding account, Ruud posted “I reported my daughter missing on July 20, 2017. Police are investigating me, which is good that they are eliminating me as a suspect. During this investigation, they are infringing upon my rights, and I need an attorney. I cannot afford one. If I raise more funds for an attorney than I need, the balance will go toward a reward for information leading to finding my daughter.”
In response to those commenting on her Facebook page today about the search warrant being executed on her property, Ruud responded at 2:30 p.m. stating, “I have legal counsel, who has instructed me to say no more on the matter.”
Savannah’s Aunt Lisa Orn told the Times Tuesday that although Ruud is Savannah’s biological mother, the girl had been adopted at birth by Lisa’s sister, Tamile. The girl is said to have lived in Minnesota with her adopted family from infancy until last year when she moved in with her biological mother at Ruud’s home in the Longrun area. Savannah was 15 years old at that time. Lisa said Tamile is still Savannah’s legal parent.