BOSTON (CBS) – A mother is being held on $500,000 bail after police say she was found trying to fill up a car with carbon monoxide, her three year old daughter with her. Leeann
Rickheit was arraigned in Dudley District Court on charges of attempted murder, child endangerment and assault and battery. Rickheit’s mother says she received disturbing suicidal texts from her daughter and called police triggering an Amber Alert.
“It started with a picture of my granddaughter and when I saw that picture I saw death,” said Dale Abbott.
Rickheit was found with her daughter, three year old Ella Abbott inside a car near a pond in Charlton, a place where acquaintances told police she would sometimes sleep in her car. The vehicle was running and the tailpipe was stuffed with clothing to block the exhaust.
Police say the little girl was in the front seat with a blanket over her and that mother and daughter were either asleep or unconscious. They were found to have elevated CO levels when police pulled them out after smashing the car windows.
Dale Abbott says it was close. “Police say they found her in the nick of time. She was almost gone.”
Police say at the time of her arrest Rickheit told them she wanted to kill herself because “no one cares for me.” She also stated she “didn’t trust anyone else with her kid.”
They say she had gone online and researched CO poisoning and didn’t think her daughter would be harmed because she had left the window cracked. The Department of Children and Families has taken custody of Ella Abbott but her family wants her back. “The child is traumatized, her mother tried to kill her, she woke up in a hospital and knows nothing,” said her aunt Leslie Abbott.
A former neighbor who didn’t want to be identified claims Rickheit was evicted from a Charlton apartment three weeks ago and was on a downward spiral. Her young daughter often left alone.
“She would leave her by herself at times so she’d be like running around and Leeann’s gone,” the neighbor said. “She was a very strong little girl.”
Rickheit is due back in court September 18 for a probable cause hearing.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Ben Parker reports