The birth mother of a 16-year-old Minnesota girl was arrested after the teen’s burned remains were found on her Missouri property, a local NBC affiliate reported.
Rebecca Ruud was charged with first degree murder of Savannah Leckie, who had been raised by an adoptive family in Minnesota but who had been living with her biological mother and the woman’s boyfriend before her disappearance in July.
Ruud, a member of the Theodosia Fire Department, called the department on July 18 to report a fire at her home. She also contacted the Ozark County Sheriff’s Office.
When officials arrived at the residence, Ruud allegedly kept them away from her home and instead directed them to a fire at the top of a hill near her property. She told fire department employees that Leckie had been burned, but was taking a shower to cool off.
No one saw Leckie that day, according to prosecutors, as Ruud refused to let fire department officials go to her residence or trailer.
Two days later, Ruud reported that Leckie was missing.
“I think she’s a runaway,” she allegedly told police. “I had a fire two days ago, Savannah is blaming herself for the fire, I got burnt, I think that's why she ran away.”
Prosecutors are also alleging that Ruud abused Leckie, who had autism.
She allegedly made her bathe in a muddy pond and, when Leckie cut herself in self-harm, Ruud would pour alcohol and salt on the wound.
Ruud and her boyfriend got married the day the remains were found by police. Though Missouri law can prevent spouses from testifying against each other, that wouldn’t apply in this case since the victim is under 18.
[Image: Ozark County Sheriff Department]