An Ozark County mother, charged with murder, describes how she disposed of her child’s body

Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 10:50 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Monday, the murder trial for an Ozark County woman started in Greene County.

Rebecca Ruud is charged with first-degree murder for killing her daughter, 16-year-old Savannah Leckie, then burning her body.

A recording of what Ruud said she did had everyone’s attention in the courtroom.

“Savannah and I had an unconditional love,” said Ruud.

Ruud told authorities Leckie ran away from their home in Theodosia in July 2017. A few weeks later investigators found the child’s remains in a burn pile on the property where she lived with Ruud and Ruud’s boyfriend Robert Peats Jr.

Leckie came from Minnesota to live with Ruud in Missouri, a few years after her adopted parents, Tamille and David Leckie divorced.

Ruud says Leckie was a troubled child.

“A couple of days before Savannah left she tried to throw herself into the fire,” she said.

Sometime after Leckie’s remains were found Ruud sought counsel. She recorded the conversation with details about what she said she did. Ruud tried to get thrown out of court. The Missouri State Supreme Court rendered a decision to allow the recording to be admitted as evidence.

The attorney asked, “Did Savannah kill herself?”

“I don’t know what she used. I checked with the doctor because my pain prescription was gone but the doctor said that it wasn’t enough,” she replied, indicating that Leckie overdosed.

Her story that Leckie ran away quickly changed.

“You wrap her in a blanket,” said the attorney.

“And I go up to the fire that we were just around. I put her on the coals. I spent almost all night just piling everything on,” interrupted Ruud.

In addition to the blanket, Ruud says she included Leckie’s computer bag.

The attorney asked, “What about this computer bag?”

“Because nobody would believe she left on her own without it,” she said.

That’s when Ruud says she reported her daughter missing.

“I called Tamille and I put it on Facebook and called the sheriff’s department,” she said.

The attorney asked, “The report went out on the 20th of July?

“She killed herself the night before,” said Ruud. “I showered, made coffee, and tried to put myself together.”

For weeks Ruud says she tried to keep the ruse of her daughter’s disappearance going.

She asked, “What do you recommend?”

“Well, like I said, I think you’re going to be arrested. That’s just my gut feeling,” replied the attorney.

“I fully expect that,” said Ruud.

The trial is expected to last until Wednesday.

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