The biological mother of a former St. Michael-Albertville High student is in jail, awaiting trial for first-degree murder.
Rebecca Ruud, 39, has been charged with first-degree murder, abuse of a child resulting in death and second-degree felony murder in Ozark County, Missouri in connection with the death of her 16-year-old daughter, Savannah Leckie. Leckie had just moved to Missouri last last year to be with Ruud and her boyfriend in rural Missouri after her adoptive mother, Teri Montague-Steeves, and her then boyfriend had worked out an arrangement.
Savannah attended STMA High for a year while living with her adoptive parents in Minnesota. Savannah, who has “high functioning autism” according to court reports, lived in Minnesota with those adoptive parents until earlier this year, when her adoptive mother contacted her biological mother to set up new living arrangements.
Savannah moved to Missouri in November 2016 and had been making soap in the Ozarks with Ruud and her boyfriend.
According to court records, Ruud and her new husband, Robert Peet Jr., reported a fire on July 18 on the acreage where the two reside in Theodosia, Missouri, a village of about 250 people. During that incident, she told fire investigators she was burned when trying to rescue the 16-year-old from a fire, but refused to let them talk to Savannah.
On July 21 Ruud reported Savannah was missing, investigators stated in a report. She gave a couple of different versions of stories about how she was injured, but claimed Savannah ran away because the teen blamed herself for starting the fire.
Authorities in Missouri, continued to however, believed they may have found the girl’s remains earlier this month. Bone and teeth fragments, as well as scorched clothing, were found in a burn pile on her mother’s property in Ozark County. Ruud told authorities that the teen was home when she went to sleep on the night of July 19 and was not in the home the next morning. Ruud said she and a neighbor searched the property and then contacted authorities later that morning. Ozark County recently reported about remains that turned up in a burn pile 1,200 feet from the home during a search on Aug. 4 and who might be responsible for the teen’s disappearance and possible death, and a family spokesperson told media outlets there was a “strong suspicion” the remains are that of the young girl.
A report confirmed the remains were Savannah’s on Tuesday, Aug. 22.
Ruud has admitted on social media she is under investigation. She has started a GoFundMe page to help cover legal costs. She has since pulled the page down. She was arrested at a Greyhound bus station yesterday, along with her husband. He has not been charge at this time. Ruud is in custody and considered a flight risk, as authorities stated she has “gone off the grid” in the past.
The teen was reported missing earlier this month. It was believed Savannah may have made her way back to Minnesota, since she maintains close ties to family here. There is a reward, offered by her family, for information leading to the location of Savannah, who goes by the nicknames ‘Mouse’ and ‘Andy.’ Her father now lives in Park Rapids, while her stepmother, Montague, lives in Columbia Heights.