Haunting details have emerged in the case of a mother who allegedly drugged her daughter and planned to burn her before beating her to death when she woke up screaming.
Rebecca Ruud’s trial in the July 2017 disappearance and death of her autistic daughter, Savannah Leckie, began Monday.
Leckie’s body was found weeks later dismembered and burned – the same day Ruud married her boyfriend Robert Peat Jr, who was also charged.
Ruud is believed to have cremated the body to cover up the crime after she “crushed pills and put them in a drink – probably KoolAid or something like that,” prosecutor Anthony Brown said at Monday’s trial, citing women who died done this had been imprisoned with Ruud.
Brown said in the opening statement one of the three women told him Ruud admitted crushing hydrocodone and drugging Leckie, Law & Crime reports.
“The defendant thought Savannah was dead and brought her body to the burning pile to dispose of the evidence,” Brown said.
“She wasn’t dead. She woke up screaming.
“And while she was screaming, the defendant hit her with a rake or some other long-handled implement until she couldn’t scream anymore.
“All that was left of Savannah was a sack full of bones,” Brown said.
Defense attorney Yvette Renee Duvall disputed Brown’s claims, calling them “fantastic stories” and suggesting Ruud’s fellow inmates may have made them up.
“Their stories don’t match the other witnesses who were actually there,” she said Monday.
“They don’t agree with the evidence either.”
Ruud faces a variety of charges in connection with the girl’s death, including first-degree murder, felony murder, child molestation, tampering with evidence and leaving a body behind.
THE DAY OF FIRE
On July 18, 2017, a fire broke out at Ruud’s farm in Ozark County, Missouri.
According to Brown, Ruud was a volunteer firefighter but refused to contact the sheriff.
The woman also would not let firefighters anywhere near the trailer at the farm where Leckie lived.
She allegedly claimed her daughter was naked in the trailer.
Peat’s father, Robert Peat Sr., was also a volunteer firefighter and helped put out the flames.
According to Law & Crime, Peat is scheduled to testify about the day’s events during the trial.
Leckie was reported missing days later on July 20.
Duvall said Monday that the incident was immediately investigated as a death — not a missing person’s case.
A SHORT REUNION
Brown said on Monday that Leckie and Ruud had recently been reunited.
Shortly after Leckie’s birth, Ruud gave the girl to her friends Tamil Leckie-Montague and David Leckie, believing she would be unable to care for her daughter.
The girl was raised in Minnesota by adoptive parents, but the couple split in 2010.
Leckie started acting when she was a teenager, Brown said, adding that the girl is on the autism spectrum and has been diagnosed with ADHD and depression.
Duvall said the teenager was hospitalized on multiple occasions for suicidal thoughts.
In 2016, when Leckie was 15, it was decided to take her to Ruud’s farm in Ozark County, Missouri.
The reunion between mother and daughter lasted less than a year.
THE SECRET RECORDING
In 2017, a recording was made before Ruud was charged in Leckie’s death.
Ruud had met with public defenders and then put the recording in a box, which she gave to Peat, who hadn’t looked in the box for over a year.
According to the Springfield News leader, the recording reportedly includes at least a partial admission from Ruud.
After listening to the recording, Peat gave the evidence to the Ozark County Sheriff’s Office.
In 2021, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in favor of the sheriff’s office, saying the recording could be used as evidence at trial.
At the time of the verdict, Ozark County Prosecutor John Garrabrant said, “It is an important piece of evidence and we are very pleased that the Supreme Court found that privilege was waived, which is what we had felt all along, but had to wait a long time before we finally got an answer.”
“No one in the state except the police listened to it,” he said in November.
“Neither of us listened to it because of the possibility that it was considered confidential communication between lawyer and client.
“So I don’t know what the content of the recording is, but I’m interested to hear what’s going on there and how that might affect how the state is going to present its evidence in this case.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/5659568/haunting-details-mom-drugged-burned-daughter-before-beating-death/ Haunting details of mother who ‘did drugs and plotted to burn daughter before beating teenager to death when she woke up screaming’