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Disturbing details revealed by former inmates in jail with Ozark County mother accused of murdering her teenage daughter

Springfield (MO) KYTV 6/30/2022 Frances Watson
Savannah Leckie on the farm © Provided by Springfield (MO) KYTV Savannah Leckie on the farm

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Explosive testimony on the final day of the first-degree murder trial of an Ozark County woman.

Rebecca Ruud is accused of killing her 16-year-old daughter, Savannah Leckie, then burning her body.

On Wednesday, former inmates shared details about their conversations while behind bars with Ruud. Under court order, their identities stayed concealed. We must warn you some of the details may be disturbing.

“I knew ahead of time what she was charged with. It was kind of a big deal,” said the first former inmate.

Prosecutor Tony Brown asked, “Was it the talk of the jail?”

“Yes,” said the first former inmate.

In July 2017, Ruud told authorities Leckie ran away from their home in Theodosia. It’s a story she told fellow inmates when she was arrested a short time later.

“Her daughter had run away and that her daughter was really big on pills and had taken off with one of her prescriptions,” said the second former inmate.

Brown asked, “Did she ever give you any background information about her daughter?”

“No,” said the second former inmate.

Leckie’s remains were found in a burn pile on Ruud’s property where she lived with her boyfriend, Robert Peat Jr., about two weeks after Ruud reported her missing.

The second former inmate said, “The discussion was when they had made a positive identity on it she was 100% certain that it was not her daughter. That it was not 100%. A 99.9% match is not, in her words, to make an identity 100%.”

Ruud gave Leckie up for adoption but maintained a relationship with her and her adoptive family. Several months before her death, Leckie left her home in Minnesota to live with Ruud.

Brown asked,” Did the defendant ever talk about her daughter and her daughter’s adoptive mom?”

“Yes,” said the first former inmate.

Brown asked, “Can you tell us about that conversation?”

“She was concerned about something to do with money, and she was trying to save her farm. The adoptive mother had owed her some money,” said the first former inmate.

According to prosecutors, Ruud started sharing what happened to her daughter in greater detail.

“She wanted to know if I knew if there was any way to trace any kind of pain medication in a person’s system, how long it was there, things of that nature,” said the first former inmate.

Brown asked,” Did the defendant talk about using those pills in any way?”

“She did. She said that she had crushed some up and put them in Kool-Aid and gave it to her daughter,” said the first former inmate.

Ruud’s public defenders quickly asked the women if they expected anything in return for their testimony, a type of deal from prosecutors.

“You say really I turned my life around. Please help,” said Yvette Duvall.

She is one of Ruud’s public defenders.

“I was just trying to state to the courts that I was trying to make a change in my life. I was doing the right thing,” said the first former inmate.

Duvall asked, “But you wanted some help or something correct for your statement?”

“That wasn’t the reason for my statement. I literally came forward because it was just so sick,” said the first former inmate.

Each of the women said they were compelled to come forward.

“It’s the right thing to do. That child can’t speak for herself. Somebody’s got to speak for her, I guess,” said the third former inmate.

One former inmate provided disturbing details.

Brown asked, “Did she give you any specifics about the drugging?”

“I don’t know in great detail. I just know I remember her telling me that she had drugged her. I don’t know what with. Her child wasn’t dead. Her child came back to life in the middle of burning her, and she beat her in the face with a rake. I’m pretty sure it was a rake until she was gone,” said the third former inmate.

It’s a very different account than what Ruud’s public defenders are arguing. They say the child diagnosed with Aspergers and ADHD killed herself. Prosecutors believe Wednesday’s testimony supports their argument that Ruud murdered Leckie.

Brown asked, “Did you ever see the defendant express any remorse about her daughter?”

“Not a single time,” said the first former inmate.

Brown, “Did she tell you why she did this to her daughter?”

“Well, she just said she wasn’t ever cut out to be a mother. She was kind of wrapped up in her own world and had her own thing going on,” said the third former inmate.

Ruud decided not to take the stand.

After closing arguments Thursday afternoon, Judge Calvin Holden will take the case under advisement. He could make his decision following the statements.

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