OZARK COUNTY, Mo.– Ozark County Sheriff Darrin Reed confirms Robert Peat Jr., 31, was arrested Wednesday afternoon and is being held in the Ozark County Jail, along with wife Rebecca Ruud, after an Ozark County grand jury indicted the pair Wednesday in the murder of Ruud’s 16-year-old biological daughter. Savannah Leckie. Both Ruud and Peat are being held without bond.
Ruud and Peat Jr. were both charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, child abuse resulting in death, tampering with evidence, and abandonment of a corpse.
The indictment filed Wednesday in Ozark County court says the grand jury charges that Ruud and Peat “knowingly caused the death of Savannah Leckie by unknown means” on or about July 18 and “knowingly disposed of the corpse of Savannah Leckie…without properly reporting the location of the body to the proper law enforcement officials.
Wedneday (Sept. 20), after convening for what is believed to be the third time since first convening Sept. 5, the grand jury issued indictments for Peat and Ruud on these charges: first-degree murder, second-degree murder, abuse of a child resulting in death, tampering with evidence and abandoning a corpse.
Read the indictment against Peat here:
Judge Cynthia MacPherson’s docket sheet says that the jurors were unanimous in their decision to issue the indictments.
Ruud, 39, has been in custody since Aug. 21 after Ozark County Prosecuting Attorney John Garrabrant filed a criminal case against her and Ozark County officers detained her at a Springfield bus station, where she was reportedly attempting to board a bus to leave the area.
Peat had bought a bus ticket and left for Memphis on Aug. 20; however, he has returned to the area. Now that Ruud has been indicted by the grand jury, the original case against her filed by Garrabrant is expected to be dismissed.
Having grand jury indictments means both cases will skip the preliminary hearing phase of the court process and will go straight to Ozark County Circuit Court. Ruud and Peat are scheduled to be arraigned before Judge Craig Carter Monday, Sept. 27.
Ruud gave birth to Savannah in 2001 in Minnesota, but the little girl was adopted a few months later by Tamile Leckie-Montague and her then-husband, David Leckie. Savannah grew up in Minnesota. After her adoptive parents’ divorce, she continued to live with her adoptive mother until August 2016, when a conflict developed with her mother’s boyfriend, and she moved to Ozark County to live with Ruud on her remote, 81-acre farm near Theodosia. Family members said Savannah was acquainted with her mother and was OK with the move to Missouri.
Ruud called the Ozark County Sheriff’s office July 20 to report her daughter missing. An extensive search began, and on Aug. 4, investigators found what turned out to be burned human remains on Ruud’s property. Later, the remains were identified as Savannah’s.