Mom Charged with Murder in Ozark County appeared in court; bench trial reset

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UPDATE (7/21/2020).– Rebecca Ruud, charged with murder in the death of her daughter in 2016 was in court on Tuesday, July 21, 2020.

Her bench trial was originally set for August and has now been reset for Dec. 14, 2020 in the Greene County courtroom.

Her next appearance in court is scheduled for Aug. 24, 2020.

THEODOSIA, Mo.–Murder charges were filed in Ozark County Tuesday against the mother of Savannah Leckie, the teenage girl who went missing in July.

Rebecca Ruud is charged with first and second-degree murder, abuse of a child resulting in death, tampering with physical evidence, and abandoning a corpse.

Ozark County Sheriff Darrin Reed said Ruud was arrested Monday by Ozark County deputies at a Greyhound bus station in Springfield, where she had reportedly bought a ticket to leave the area.  Deputies had been watching the bus station along with the help of Springfield police and took her into custody.

She was headed to the Kansas City area.

In July, the Ozark County Sheriff’s Office asked for the publics help in locating Savannah. They believed she may be headed to family in Minnesota.

On August 4, Savannah’s burned remains, which were identified Monday, were found in a field about 400 yards from the home where Savannah lived for the last 11 months with Ruud. According to the Ozark County Times, Ruud married her then boyfriend, Peat Jr, in Summersville, Mo. that same day.

An affidavit in the case states that Ruud gave Savannah up for adoption when she was born, and a family in Minnesota adopted her. The adoptive mother later contacted Ruud, who agreed to take Savannah back in November 2016.

Ruud has admitted to punishing her daughter by forcing her to crawl through an open hog pen, bathe in a pond on the property. She also admitted to rubbing salt and alcohol into a “suicidal” cut on Leckie’s arm.

Items listed as taken by law enforcement for evidence from the home and near where the remains were found included the remains, a meat grinder, a knife, hair, girl’s clothing, fibrous materials, soil samples, and 26 bottles of lye, which can be used to accelerate the breakdown of bodily tissue.

Along with the burned remains found on Ruud’s property the returned search warrant says deputies found 20 “boxes” of bone fragments on the farm.

Sheriff Reed told KOLR10 News earlier this month investigators saw “red flags” early in this investigation after 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.”

A candlelight vigil was held on Friday, August 18 for Leckie in Ozark County.

Peat Jr. is still considered a suspect in the murder.

Ruud is being held without bond in the Ozark County Jail. She will make her first court appearance on August 28.

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