Parents of infant found dead in home appear in court on drug charges

Posted at 1:25 PM, June 17, 2024 and last updated 12:02 PM, June 17, 2024

HARTFORD, Ky. (Court TV) — Days after the body of 8-month-old Miya Rudd was found decomposing inside her family’s home, her parents and grandfather appeared in court to face new charges in connection with her death.

Miya’s parents, Tesla Tucker and Cage Rudd, joined Rudd’s father, Ricky Smith, in an Ohio County courtroom on Monday. All three entered not-guilty pleas to a number of charges, including abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and failure to report a death. Before she was called up for her turn, Tucker could be seen crying quietly in the courtroom.

Tesla Tucker cries with her head in her hands during a court hearing

Tesla Tucker was seen crying in court during a hearing on June 17, 2024. (Court TV)

After entering pleas of not guilty, all three defendants remained in the courtroom for a preliminary hearing on drug charges, which were filed before Miya’s body was found.

Investigators began searching for Miya on June 6 after they were unable to find her during a welfare check at the family’s home. At that point, both her parents and her grandfather were arrested on charges related to drugs found in the home and abandonment of a minor. Prosecutors dropped the charges of abandonment of a minor on Monday, but the judge found probable cause for the drug charges to move forward.

Dalton Mellott, the lead detective in the case, took the stand and testified to what was found inside the home when officers began their search for Miya. Mellott described bags of pills, a scale, plastic bags with presumed methamphetamine and firearms as being out and within reach of children. In the room that investigators believed to be for a child, which contained a bassinet and diapers, officers noted a bag of what appeared to be methamphetamine and Narcan, a drug used to treat opioid overdoses.

All three defendants are due back in court on June 24 for a preliminary hearing on the charges related to Miya’s death.

Tesla’s parents, Taletha and David Tucker, as well as Rudd’s mother, Billie Smith, were also arrested on unrelated warrants during the investigation into Miya’s disappearance.