At least one family is coming to terms with the fact that their daughter is never coming home, while another is waiting with bated breath to hear the news that a second set of remains is that of their own daughter who disappeared nearly a decade ago.
17-year-old Kara Kopetsky had last been seen leaving for school on the morning of May 4, 2007. During the time of her disappearance, she had been trying to leave a relationship with her boyfriend Kylr Yust. Kopetsky’s parents believed that Yust may have had information on the whereabouts of their daughter, but without evidence, there was little police could do other than continue on with their investigation.
Yust had been in and out of jail for multiple offenses, including in 2011, when Yust was convicted of strangling his girlfriend at the time. It is unclear whether or not Jessica Runions had been aware of Yust’s violent past and his possible connection to a missing woman when she left a party with him on the night of September 8, 2016.
Runions would never make it home from that party. Two days later, Runions’ car was found burning off of Blue River Road in Kansas City. Jessica was nowhere to be found. Police had enough evidence to connect Yust to the burning of Jessica’s car but Yust refused to offer any information on Runions’ whereabouts.
Runions’ family had already prepared themselves for the worst possible outcome and began searching for her body. While their search efforts failed to produce Jessica’s body or anything else that could indicate she was no longer alive, they did uncover the bodies of two men – Brandon Herring and another unidentified white male.
While it wasn’t the outcome they had hoped for, Runions’ family saw the discovery of these two bodies as a sign that they were on the right track and were happy they could assist police in two previously unsolved cases.
It would be months before both families would receive the news they had dreaded, yet had been waiting for. In the woodlands of western Missouri, a mushroom hunter spotted what they believed to be skeletal remains. After a multi-day search, it was discovered that the remains were of not one, but two women.
Police had alerted the two families that they believed the remains to be that of their missing daughters Jessica Runions and Kara Kopetsky. After further testing, one set of remains had been positively identified as Runions’. Due to the age of the second set of remains found at the scene, testing has been considerably more difficult. Though it has not been confirmed, Kopetsky’s family is bracing themselves for the news that Kara is no longer with them.
Yust has not been charged with the murder of Runions, nor has he received any charges related to the disappearance of Kopetsky. Currently, Yust has only been charged with the burning of Runions’ car. Both families are hopeful that further charges will soon follow.