OZARK COUNTY, Mo. (KMSP) - Authorities have discovered human remains at the home where a missing teen with Minnesota connections was last seen, fueling suspicions she may be dead, according to new search warrants released Thursday.
16-year-old 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 has 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, Mo. 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 Thursday--despite police not having positively identified the remains.