OZARK COUNTY, Mo. (KMSP) - The Ozark County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that burned human bones found on a property in rural Longrun, Missouri are those of missing 16-year-old Minnesota girl Savannah Leckie. UPDATE: Biological mother charged with murder
Sheriff Darrin Reed said Monday that dental records helped confirm the recovered remains belong to Savannah.
"From information I received today from forensic specialists, and evidence that was obtained, the remains that were recovered are those of 16-year-old Savannah Leckie of Longrun,” Sheriff Reed said in a statement.
Savannah Leckie was raised in Minnesota after being put up for adoption as a baby but stayed in touch with her biological mother in Missouri. Leckie ultimately moved in with her after a recent dispute with her adoptive mother's new boyfriend.
Leckie had been officially missing for three weeks following a report from her biological mother, identified in documents as Rebecca Ruud, who said she was last seen July 19. Leckie is described as having "high-functioning" autism and several medical conditions, according to family statements from the time of her disappearance.
An Aug. 3 search of the Ruud property in Theodosia, Missouri recovered hair, bone and teeth fragments from a "burn pile" that, upon further inspection from an anthropologist, were determined to be human. Experts also observed "advanced deterioration" attributed to some sort of chemical, with officers noting that lye soap was being made on the property in several large drums seen by police during the execution of their warrant.
Other items seized included a meat grinder, three knives and 26 bottles of lye.
A subsequent investigation by the Ozark County, Mo. Sheriff's office revealed Savannah was allegedly subjected to repeated abuse from her biological mother, with Ruud's ex-boyfriend telling police she had forced Savannah to crawl through a hog pen and bathe in a pond, as well as rubbing a self-inflicted cut on Savannah's arm with alcohol and salt as a form of discipline.
After the search warrants were released, nonprofit Missing Children of Minnesota announced it was removing Savannah from its posters.