THEODOSIA, Mo. – The Ozark County mother accused of murder in the death and abandonment of the corpse of her 16-year-old daughter will face trial in Taney County, after a change of venue was granted today, Oct. 19, 2017.
Rebecca Ruud’s attorneys sought the change in a motion filed last month on the heels of another motion that was granted for a change of judge, according to online court records.
The date for a trial for Ruud, 39, has not been set, but Ozark County Circuit Judge David Paulo Evans, agreed to the defendant’s request to move it out of the county where the crime is alleged to have occurred. Attorneys for both defense and prosecution agreed to hear motions in the case in Ozark County, but whether to accede to that agreement will be made by the trial judge.
Ruud is charged with first and second-degree murder, abuse of a child resulting in death, tampering with physical evidence and abandoning a corpse in connection with the death of her daughter Savannah Leckie, who went missing in July.
The Ozark County Sheriff’s Office asked for the public’s help in locating Savannah and on August 4, burned human remains later identified to be those of the teen were found in a field about 400 yards from the home where Savannah lived with her mother and her mother’s then-boyfriend, Robert Peat, Jr.
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 year that 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.”
Peat is charged with the same five charges as Ruud. He is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 8 in Ozark County.
Both Ruud and Peat are being held without bond in the Ozark County Jail.