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Trial Reveals Gruesome Details Of Murder Of Teen Whose Burned Remains Found On Mom’s Farm

Prosecutors allege Rebecca Ruud drugged her biological daughter, 16-year-old Savannah Leckie, and took what she thought was the teen's dead body to burn in a fire. But when Leckie woke up screaming, prosecutors say Ruud beat her to death. 

By Jax Miller
A police handout of Rebecca Ruud

Prosecutors have provided grisly details in the murder trial of a Missouri woman charged with killing her biological daughter shortly after the pair reunited.

Rebecca Ruud is accused of the first-degree murder of her 16-year-old daughter, Savannah Leckie, whose remains found in a burn pit on Ruud's Ozark County farm in 2017, according to CBS Cape Girardeau affiliate KFVS-TV

Ruud's bench trial began Monday, as seen in live coverage of the trial published by Law & Crime.

Ruud placed Leckie up for adoption shortly after her birth and the teen grew up the child of Tamille and David Leckie in Minnesota, according to KFVS-TV. Prosecutors say the teen's life began to unravel after the couple separated. Although Leckie and her biological mother had maintained contact over the years, Leckie had only gone to live with Ruud a few months before the murder.

Ruud's defense attorney Yvette Duvall stated that Leckie moved in with Ruud when she was 15 years old and that, at first, the teen seemed to enjoy her time on the farm that Ruud shared with her then-boyfriend (now-husband) Robert Peat Jr.

Leckie was on the autism spectrum and had been diagnosed with depression and ADHD, prosecutor Anthony Brown said. Ruud’s defense attorney, Duvall, also claimed the teen had a history of cutting herself and had been hospitalized twice for suicidal ideations.

Ruud previously claimed that her daughter’s mental state continued to deteriorate after she came to live with her.

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

Prosecutors, on the other hand, allege that Ruud confessed to several cellmates that she'd killed the girl, following her arrest.

In one statement, Ruud allegedly blamed her “bratty kid” for financial problems on the farm, claiming she wasn’t receiving child support from Leckie’s adoptive family, according to Law & Crime.

In another account, Ruud allegedly told someone that she’d crushed Hydrocodone pills and spiked her daughter’s drink, assuming she would die of an overdose.

But, Ruud allegedly told cellmates, she was surprised when Leckie woke up screaming before she could burn her remains, according to the prosecutor.

“And during this screaming, the defendant hit her with a rake or other type of long-handed implement until she could scream no more,” said Brown. “And after all that, all that was left of Savannah was a bag of bones.”

Ruud reported her daughter missing on July 20, 2017, and told witnesses that she believed Leckie had ran away from home. The report prompted several days of searches. 

But in a recording Ruud made while meeting with potential legal counsel shortly after Leckie's teeth and bones were discovered on the farm, Ruud’s claimed that Leckie overdosed on drugs on July 19, 2017, and that she subsequently put her into the fire, according to KFVS-TV.

“I put her on the coals,” Ruud told the lawyer, according to KY3. “I spent almost all night just piling everything on.”

Ruud added that, the next day, she “showered, made coffee and tried to put myself together” before reporting Leckie missing to police and the girl's mother.

Ruud's lawyers tried to have the recording suppressed, but the Missouri Supreme Court allowed it into evidence on Monday, according to NBC Springfield affiliate KYTV.

Ruud's now-husband, Peat, was arrested for Leckie’s murder in September 2017, according to charging papers reviewed by Oxygen.com. In 2020, it was announced that Peat had become a cooperative individual of the state after he handed over the recording his wife made while talking to her lawyer, according to the Ozark County Times.

Peat Jr. is also expected to testify that Ruud and Leckie fought over the teenager’s homework shortly before Leckie’s death, according to Law & Crime.

The trial is expected to continue until Wednesday.