Police: Mom who sparked Amber Alert tried to kill daughter after taking her

DUDLEY, Mass. (WPRI) — The mother who police said triggered an Amber Alert when she took her 3-year-old daughter from a Worcester home Wednesday is accused of trying to kill the child.

Leann Rickheit, 38, of Charlton, was arraigned Thursday in Dudley District Court on charges of attempted murder, assault and battery on a child, and reckless endangerment of a child.

Judge Robert G. Harbour ordered Rickheit held on $500,000 bail and scheduled a pretrial conference for Sept.18.

State police said troopers found Rickheit and her daughter unconscious in Rickheit’s car, parked near a pond in the woods of Charlton early Thursday morning. According to police, the car was running and Rickheit had stuffed clothes in the tailpipe to block the exhaust. Troopers smashed a window and pulled Rickheit and the girl out of the car.

The girl was taken to UMASS Medical Center in Worcester, and police said she was reported to be doing well Thursday morning. Rickheit was treated at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Worcester, then taken to the state police barracks in Sturbridge.

“Some great police work helped to prevent a tragedy,” Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr. said in a statement. “The Worcester Police, presented with a serious threat of a murder-suicide, reacted quickly by calling for an AMBER Alert. The State Police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section did a great job finding the car in the woods of Charlton and getting both mother and daughter out of the car safely.”