UPDATE: LEEANN RICKHEIT, 38, the suspect arrested in last night’s AMBER Alert, is expected to be arraigned this morning in Dudley District Court on several charges, including attempted murder.
When state troopers from the MSP’s Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section located RICKHEIT’s car in the woods early this morning, RICKHEIT and her daughter were in the car, the car was running, and the tailpipe had been stuffed with clothing, blocking the exhaust. Troopers observed the mother and daughter Ella either sleeping or unconscious in the car.
VFAS Trooper Keller Williams smashed a window to the vehicle and troopers removed the child and RICKHEIT from the car. Two ambulances were called to the scene and Ella was transported to UMASS Medical Center and Rickheit to St. Vincent’s in Worcester.
The child is reported to be doing well and RICKHEIT, who was kept under police guard, was held at the State Police Barracks in Sturbridge and will be arraigned today on charges of attempted murder, assault and battery on a child, and reckless endangerment of a child.
The location where VFAS Troopers found the suspect and victim in the car was on the backside of a pond located through the woods behind the Country Store, 131 Stafford Street, Charlton.
VFAS Troopers learned that RICKHEIT frequented that area and often slept in her car there. The troopers had focused on the area after intelligence that was developed led them to check various addresses in Sturbridge and Charlton for RICKHEIT. The troopers conducted numerous interviews of people who might have information about her whereabouts.
VFAS Troopers who worked the case throughout the night were Sgt David Skelly and Troopers Williams, Amy Waterman, and Thiago Miranda. They were assisted during the recovery and arrest by troopers from the Sturbridge Barracks and Charlton Police. Troopers from the State Police Detective Unit for Worcester County assisted in the followup investigation.
UPDATE: The mother and child being sought in the AMBER Alert have been located in a vehicle in a wooded area in Charlton. Both are conscious and alert and are being taken to area hospitals for examination.
LEEANN RICKHEIT, 38, is being transported to St. Vincent’s Hospital under police guard. The exact charges against her will be finalized as the specific facts and circumstances are determined. The charges will reflect RICKHEIT’s actions in fleeing with the child as well as evidence observed and recovered during her capture.
The three-year-old child has been transported to UMass Medical Center.
The recovery was made after members of the State Police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section developed information indicating that RICKHEIT frequented the wooded area where she was found.
The AMBER Alert has been deactivated. The investigation into RICKHEIT is ongoing.
No further information is being released at this time.
For original release, see below.
Massachusetts State Police Media Release – 08092017 – State Police Issue Worcester AMBER Alert
The Massachusetts State Police, on behalf of the Worcester Police Department, are issuing an AMBER Alert.
At approximately 7:45 p.m. this evening, Ella Abbott was reported to potentially be in harm after her mother, Leeann Rickheit, made threats to another family member that she planned to harm the child and herself.
Ella Abbott is described as a 3-year-old, white female with brown hair, brown eyes, 3 feet tall, weighing approximately 40 pounds. She was last seen wearing a purple or dark colored top.
Leeann Rickheit is described as a 38-year-old, white female with light brown hair, blue eyes, 5’11” tall, and weighs approximately 170 pounds.
Leeann is believed to be driving a blue, 2007 Hyundai Sonata bearing Massachusetts registration 4PG367. She has a history in the Charlton area was thought to be recently traveling on the Mass Pike in that area.
Below are pictures of Ella Abbott and Leeann Rickheit as well as a like vehicle that she may be driving.
If you see either of them or have information as to their whereabouts, please call the Worcester Police Department at 508-799-8606 or dial 911.