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Why A Birth Mom Murdered, Tortured And Abused Her Autistic Teenage Daughter Less Than A Year After They Reunited

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Why A Birth Mom Murdered, Tortured And Abused Her Autistic Teenage Daughter Less Than A Year After They Reunited

What happened to Savannah Leckie? Tragic details in her murder case have been released. 

When Leckie went to live on a farm with her biological birth mother in 2016, it was supposed to be a fresh start. The 16-year-old had a mild form of autism and also suffered from depression and ADHD.

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Her adoptive parents, Tamile Montague and David Leckie, had just gotten a divorce and agreed to send their daughter to her mother, Rebecca Ruud, because of "problems at home." 

“We have been co-parenting with her,” Montague’s fiancé said at the time. “The farm just seemed like a really good place for her [Leckie] to explore and find herself.”

The farm turned out to be the opposite of a "good place" for Leckie to live. 

After being reported as missing for a month, the teen's charred human remains were found in a burn pile on Ruud's 81-acre farm, 400 feet from the trailer where she lived. 

Leckie went to live with Ruud in late 2016, and on July 18, Ruud reported a fire at her home that left her and her daughter with burns. But when firefighters arrived, they only found a brush fire on top of a hill near the residence. 

There were burns on Ruud's arms, but she told them Leckie was fine and taking a shower in the trailer. She told emergency personnel to stay away from the teen, because she was lying naked on the bed due to the heat. 

Two days later, Ruud reported Leckie missing and said she ran away after blaming herself for the injuries Ruud sustained in the fire. Ruud and her boyfriend of seven months, Robert Peat Jr., told police they last saw Leckie at 11 PM on July 19, 2016. 

A firefighter who had tended to Ruud's injuries told police that a prescription for pain killers went missing after Leckie disappeared. That information led police to search for her remains on the farm. 

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On August 4, cadaver dogs found the teen's remains in the brush pile. That same day, Ruud and Peat left the property and got married. Ruud was arrested August 24 at a bus station where police say she was attempting to flee. 

After police discovered the strained relationship between Leckie and Ruud, they believed she killed her. Court records show that Leckie and Ruud's relationship deteriorated in the past two months before her death and Ruud even told police of the horrifying forms of punishment she inflicted on her daughter. 

She told police she smashed the girl's phone and limited her access to Facebook in order to control her. She also forced Leckie once to "roll around in a hog pen" and made her wade into a muddy pond and dunk under. 

Probably the worst of all, Ruud said she once punished her daughter for "deliberately" cutting her own arm by pouring alcohol and salt on her wound twice a day. 

In 2017, Peat was also arrested and both he and Ruud were charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, tampering with physical evidence in a case and abandoning a corpse without notifying authorities. 

While the trial was supposed to take place in January 2020, it was delayed. This was actually the fifth time that the trial had been postponed. The reasons for the other delays were a change in venue and a series of continuances. 

Back in November 2019, Rudd had waived her right to a jury trial and, instead, requested a trial by judge.

Rudd was scheduled to have an evidentiary hearing on January 13, but it was never held. Records revealed that Peat was also expected to appear in court. However, a trial date has not yet been set.

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Emily Blackwood is a freelance writer, editor and journalist who covers small business, pop culture, travel, health and wellness.

Editor's Note: This article was originally posted on August 25, 2017 and was updated with the latest information.