Autistic child’s charred remains found in pit, mom charged with murder (video)


Rebecca Ruud, 39, was arrested Saturday, Aug. 19, for the murder of her 16-year-old autistic daughter, Savannah Leckie, after Savannah’s burnt remains were found in a pit on Ruud’s property in Theodosia, Missouri.

Ruud was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder and other counts related to the case.

On July 18, Ruud reported that there had been a fire at her home in Theodosia. She said when officials arrived at the property, she told them she and Savannah had been injured and led authorities to the fire location on a hill nearby.

She showed officers a burn on her arm, but would not let them see Savannah or go near the house, claiming that her daughter was fine and taking a shower. Later, she told the officers that Savannah was nude and lying down to dry off.

The police report stated that the officers never saw Ruud’s daughter on the day the fire was reported.

Ruud then reported two days later that Savannah had run away from home because the teen blamed herself for the fire and the fact that her mother had been burned on the arm.

Investigators then found charred human remains in a pit during several subsequent searches of the property. A forensic analysis identified the remains as Savannah’s, according to Ozark County Sheriff Darrin Reed.

The searches also uncovered bone fragments, intact human finger bones, several teeth, and a large bone that could have been Savannah’s spine. In addition, a meat grinder, a knife, and 26 bottles of lye (a chemical that can break down body tissue) were discovered.

In an even stranger twist, on Aug. 4, while searching Ruud’s property, authorities said Ruud and her boyfriend, Robert Peat Jr., left to get married.

As a baby, Savannah was adopted by Tamile Leckie-Montague. She lived most of her life in Minnesota. Her autism was classified as “highly functional.”

In November of 2016, Tamile and Rebecca agreed that because Savannah and Tamile’s fiancé, Cary Steeves, did not get along, Savannah would live with Ruud.

Tamile last spoke to Savannah on Savannah’s birthday, June 3, according to Steeves in an interview with KSTP-TV. At that time, he did not notice any “red flags.”

Ruud would often complain about Savannah, stating that her care cost Ruud a lot of money and time, according to what Ms. Leckie-Montague told reporters. Ruud’s ex-boyfriend also stated that she would mistreat the teen as punishment for misconduct.

Ruud is currently being held at the Ozark County Jail without bond. Sheriff Reed said that charges would be filed against “any individual that was involved in aiding or tampering” with the investigation.

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