Mother charged with killing teenage daughter

Posted at 6:43 AM, Aug 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-23 06:43:01-04

LONG RUN, MO (KOLR/CNN) – A mother in Missouri now faces murder charges after remains found on her farm were identified as those of her 16-year-old daughter, who went missing in July.

Ruud was arrested Monday at a bus station in Springfield, MO, just before boarding a Greyhound bus. She was alone at the time, but according to the Greyhound company, her husband – whom she married the day her daughter’s body was discovered – also bought a bus ticket.

Ozark County Sheriff Darrin Reed says investigation into the involvement of the 16-year-old’s step-dad in her death is not over.

"We're going to investigate every possible angle we can on this. We're following every lead that we get on this, and we're months from being over with this case,” Reed said.

Ruud is charged with first and second-degree murder, abuse of a child resulting in death, tampering with physical evidence and abandoning a corpse.

The burned remains of Savannah Leckie, 16, were found Aug. 4 at Ruud’s farm, along with additional evidence, including a meat grinder, a knife, girls’ clothing and 26 bottles of lye, which can be used to accelerate the breakdown of bodily tissue.

Savannah was first reported missing July 20. Police believed the teenager, who had autism, could have been headed to her adopted family in Minnesota, who had taken her in when Ruud gave her up at birth. The adoptive mother later contacted Ruud, who agreed to take the girl back in November 2016.

Savannah had been living with Ruud and her mother’s then boyfriend, now husband for 11 months.

Sheriff Reed says investigators saw “red flags” early on in the investigation, which is why they obtained the search warrant that lead to the discovery of Savannah’s remains.

Ruud has admitted to punishing her daughter by forcing her to crawl through an open hog pen and bathe in a pond on the property. She also admitted to rubbing salt and alcohol into a “suicidal” cut on the 16-year-old’s arm.

The woman is being held without bond in the Ozark County Jail.

Copyright 2017 KOLR, Ozark County Jail via CNN. All rights reserved.