Body of teen found by 2nd victim decade after both killed by same boyfriend

Body of teen found by 2nd victim decade after both killed by same boyfriend

The body of a high school teenager was discovered in woods near to the remains of a second woman - both had been brutally murdered by the same former boyfriend.

Kara Kopetsky, 17, had gone missing in May 2007 while Jessica Runions, 21, had vanished after she was seen leaving a party in Missouri nearly 10 years later in 2016.

Both had dated Kylr Yust who has been given the maximum sentence in Kansas City for the deaths of Kara Kopetsky and Jessica Runions.

Kara Kopetsky disappeared after leaving high school in May 2007.

The jury found Yust guilty of voluntary manslaughter in Kopetsky’s death, and second-degree murder in Runions’ death.

He was handed the maximum sentence possible in Missouri, which was 15 years for voluntary manslaughter and life imprisonment for second-degree murder.

Yust had been found guilty in April and was sentenced in June this year.

Jessica Runions vanished after leaving a party with Yust in 2016.

Kylr Yust has been sentenced to 45 years behind bars.

High school student Kopetsky, 17, from Belton, Missouri, dated Yust, 18 at the time, for nine months before they broke up in April 2007.

Following the split she went to the cops claiming she had been leaving her part-time job at a fast-food restaurant when Yust forced her into his car after she refused to hang out with him.

She said he had driven her around before eventually letting her go, saying in her statement: “I’m unsure what he will do next because the abuse had gotten worse over time.”

Yust was served with a protection order on May 1.

Just three days later Kopetsky was seen on security cameras leaving Belton High School just after 9am.

She didn’t turn up for work that night and didn’t return home.

Her mom reported her missing and a frantic search was launched.

Yust, when questioned, said he had spoken to Kara on the phone but claimed he didn’t know where she was.

Phone records show she and Yust had called each other just before she left school that morning.

A friend of the estranged couple told cops Yust had admitted he’d seen Kara in person but told them not to say anything because he had violated the protection order.


Yust denied any involvement with Kopetsky’s disappearance but doubts remained with the police and her family.

Although some of Kopetsky’s possessions were found in her school locker the trail went cold and it would be several years before the authorities discovered what had happened to her.

In the intervening years, her family kept to the belief Yust was responsible, a feeling that was fuelled by Yust’s behaviour.

Over the years, Yust’s girlfriends told cops he was jealous, erratic and violent.

He was placed on probation after he made threats and even choked a former partner.

Yust also faced charges of animal cruelty and more protection orders were taken out against him.

Then in 2013 he was arrested on drug-trafficking charges and sentenced to serve four years in prison.


Just six days after he was released in September 2016 he met pasry chef Jessica Runions, 21, at a party in Grandview.

She was seen leaving the party with a man but then vanished.

Her family reported her missing and hours later her burnt out black Chevy Equinox was discovered in a remote wooded area.

Investigators later established Runions had left the party with Yust, then aged 27.

Witnesses claimed he had been drinking heavily and acting “possessively” towards Runions as well as being aggressive with others at the party.

Jessep Carter, Yust’s half-brother, came forward saying Yust had asked him to set fire to her vehicle.

Yust had burns on his body and was held in custody without bail while he waited for his trial although there was no evidence Runions had been harmed.


Then, mushrooms hunters who had gone to a rural area in Cass County, Missouri, discovered a human skull seven months after Runions disappeared.

Cops then searched the area and found a second set of remains just metres away which were much older than the first.

The remains were eventually identified as belonging to Runions and Kopetsky.

Yust was then charged in October 2017 charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

He finally faced a jury this year and entered a plea of not guilty.


Prosecutors claimed Yust had most likely killed both women with his bare hands before dumping their bodies in “his spot” with the motive being they had rejected him.

“When Kara tried to end her relationship with Yust because of abuse, Yust said, ‘If I can’t have her, nobody can,’” the prosecution said.

“Yust murdered Jessica with deliberation, same as he did Kara – because no one else can have Jessica, either.”

The defence though said there was no physical evidence connecting him to either killing.

In his court testimony he claimed: “I didn’t do anything to either of them.”

Witnesses though lined up to discredit him.

A former girlfriend who dated Yust when she was 17 said their relationship was violent.

In July 2011, Yust was drunk and had put his hands around her throat when she had tried to pack her bags and leave, she said.

As he strangled her, he allegedly said, “I have killed other ex-girlfriends in jealousy. I will kill you before you can let another scream out of your throat.”

Another partner, who had suffered violence by him, had worn a wire for the FBI which recorded Yust saying that Kopetsky had refused to get in his car the day she vanished, so he’d grabbed her by the hair and forced her in.

While another claimed she had heard Yust say he’d killed Kopetsky because “she didn’t love him” and he “didn’t want anyone else to have her”.

In April this year, the jury found Yust not guilty of first-degree murder but guilty of manslaughter for Kara’s death and second-degree murder for Jessica’s death.

Kopetsky’s mom, Rhonda Beckford, expressed her disappointment that her daughter’s killer hadn’t been found guilty of first-degree murder.

“I don’t really feel that justice was served as far as Kara’s concerned,” she said, adding: ”I’m so sorry, Kara. I tried.”

Yust continues to deny his guilt.