Recent search warrant documents contain gruesome description of how Savannah Leckie may have died
A gruesome murder-method possibility has emerged in court documents related to a recent search of the Theodosia-area property where 16-year-old Savannah Leckie is believed to have died one year ago this month.
The court documents, which include an affidavit in support of a June 2018 search warrant, quote a female informant who told authorities that Savannah’s biological mother, Rebecca Ruud, had told her how Savannah died. The Times is not identifying the informant, who was named in the affidavit, and at this point, there’s no way to verify whether her statement is true. The affidavit does say, however, that the informant received nothing – “no consideration” – in exchange for the information.
The document says that, on June 5, the informant told Ozark County Sheriff Darrin Reed and Chief Deputy Winston Collins “that Rebecca Ruud had told her [the informant] that Ruud had caused the death of Savannah Leckie by drugging her and putting her into a fire. Ruud told [the informant] that, when Savannah began to struggle, Ruud struck Savannah with a rake.”
The accusation that Ruud may have drugged Savannah brings to mind Peat’s statement to authorities on July 24, 2017, which was included in court documents and cited in the Ozark County Times’ Aug. 16, 2017, edition, that Ruud’s prescription of hydrocodone was missing. Savannah had reportedly had a history of suicide attempts, and when Ruud was asked why she didn’t tell authorities about the missing hydrocodone when the girl first disappeared, Ruud allegedly answered that it would “make her fear a reality,” or something to that effect, according to the court document.
The search warrant inventory
On June 7, Ozark County Prosecuting Attorney John Garrabrant filed court documents requesting the latest search warrant. The paperwork included an affidavit by Ozark County Deputy Curtis Dobbs in which he laid out the history of the case and included what the informant had said. Dobbs added that during the course of the investigation into Savannah’s disappearance and death he had been to the Ruud farm several times. “I remember and I have confirmed through photographs I took that there were several rakes and other long handled garden tools located on the property....”
Associate Circuit Judge Cynthia MacPherson authorized the search warrant that sought “rakes or other long-handled garden tools” on the Ruud farm. Dobbs executed the search on June 7. Afterward, he submitted to the court a single-line inventory of what he had confiscated: “2 garden rakes.”
Reed has told the Times the rakes have been sent to a laboratory for analysis.
This development in the Savannah Leckie murder case comes as Rebecca Ruud’s husband, Robert Peat Jr., who, like Ruud, is charged with first degree murder and other crimes in connection to Savannah’s death, was recently released from custody on his own recognizance after a July 5 appearance in Greene County Court. Both Peat’s and Ruud’s cases were moved there on a change of venue motion.
Ruud is currently being held in the Taney County Jail. Her next scheduled court appearance is a pre-trial hearing set for Aug. 24, when she is scheduled to say whether she wants a jury trial or a bench trial.
The murder case
The murder case began July 20, 2017, when Ruud called the Ozark County Sheriff’s Department to report her daughter missing.
Ruud had given birth to Savannah in Minnesota in 2001, but a few months later Savannah was adopted by Ruud’s family friends, Tamile and David Leckie. The Leckies divorced in 2011, and Savannah and her sister (who was also Ruud’s biological child, adopted by the Leckies) and a son the Leckies had together all lived with Tamile.
In 2015, Tamile became engaged to and moved in with Cary Steeves. Reportedly, conflict arose between Savannah and Steeves, and in late August 2016, Savannah moved to Ozark County to live with Ruud, her biological mother, on Ruud’s off-the-grid farm near Longrun, west of Theodosia.
According to court documents, after Savannah moved to Ozark County, she stayed in a camper-trailer on her biological mother’s farm while Ruud and Peat, her then-boyfriend, lived in a metal structure nearby. The property’s electricity came from a generator.
After Ruud reported Savannah missing, a massive search began, continuing for several days. On Aug. 4, 2017, as cadaver dogs searched the area, bone fragments and teeth were found in a burn pile. That same day, Ruud and Peat were married in Howell County. The bones and teeth were later identified as Savannah’s.
Ruud was arrested on murder charges on Aug. 21, 2017, at a Springfield bus station as she was apparently trying to leave the area. She has been held without bond since then, first in the Ozark County Jail and more recently in the Taney County Jail.
Peat was arrested in September 2017 after an Ozark County grand jury handed down indictments charging him – and also Ruud – with first degree murder, abuse or neglect of a child resulting in death, second degree murder, tampering with physical evidence in a felony prosecution and abandonment of a corpse. Until being released from custody a little less than two weeks ago, Peat had been held in the Douglas County Jail because, Reed said, “he has such animosity toward the Ozark County Sheriff’s Department, we just thought it might be better if he went up there.”
Peat’s jury trial was originally set to begin in Springfield on July 30. But during the July 5 hearing in Greene County Court, Peat waived his right to a speedy trail; his pre-trial hearing is now set for Oct. 16. Also at the July 5 hearing, Judge Calvin Holden ruled that Peat could be released on his own recognizance “to reside with his family in Ozark County” with GPS monitoring by Court Probationary Services, according to a report by the Springfield News-Leader, which covered the hearing. Reed confirmed last week that Peat had been released.