Kylr Yust pleads not guilty to murders of Kara Kopetsky, Jessica Runions
10/17/2017 4:43 pm PDT
A huge development in the case of two missing persons turned murder victims outside of Kansas City, Missouri.
Police have charged Kylr Yust with the murders of Kara Kopetsky and Jessica Runions.
After 10 agonizing years of searching and at least four alleged confessions, the man long suspected of killing Kara Kopetsky and Jessica Runions is finally charged with their murders.
Last year Crime Watch Daily investigated Kara Kopetsky's story. She was last seen more than 10 years ago leaving school early. Phone records reveal it was six minutes after a call from her ex-boyfriend Kylr Yust. Days earlier the Belton, Missouri teen had filed a protection order against him after he allegedly abducted her from work and threatened to slit her throat.
Prosecutors now say Katelynn Farris is one of several people Kylr eventually confessed to, explaining how and why he had killed Kara.
"She basically explained to him that she didn't want to be with him anymore and he said he kind of just freaked out," Farris told Crime Watch Daily.
Private detective Marlene Rockwell recorded another one of Yust's girlfriends talking about his confession.
"He's admitted to it to me. He told me he killed her and he said 'I've seen girls' faces turn purple. Have you ever seen the life leave someone's eyes?' And I got really scared at that point," the girlfriend says in an audio recording.
In newly released court documents, prosecutors say in 2010 one of Yust's band mates was the first to go to police with news of a confession. He told them Yust said he was angry with Kopetsky because she wouldn't love him and he didn't want her to love someone else.
Belton Police Lieutenant Brad Swanson, during our first interview on the Kopetsky case, explained why there hadn't been an arrest despite the alleged confessions.
"Whoever did this I will get charged some day, and when that charge gets filed, it will stick. I promise," said Lt. Swanson.
But the very night that story aired, prosecutors say, Kylr Yust killed again. It was September 2016. Jessica Runions vanishes after leaving a party with Kylr Yust, a friend of her then-boyfriend. John and Jamie Runions were about to experience the same nightmare as Kara's parents Rhonda and Jim Beckford before them. But unlike in Kara Kopetsky's case, police had physical evidence to work with.
Jessica's burned out Chevy Equinox was found the day after she vanished. Yust had confessed yet again, this time to a roommate. Police say that roommate was also there when Yust burned Runions' car.
Kylr Yust was arrested with burns on his hands and face for "knowingly burning" a vehicle.
In an eerie twist, when Crime Watch Daily tried tracking down Yust at his grandfather's house for our original story, an Equinox identical to Jessica Runions' was in his grandfather's driveway. And a young woman came to the door but never came outside.
The Runions would need Kara's parents for support as the days turned to months, and the search for both of their daughters dragged on.
Then, finally, 10 years after Kara Kopetsky vanished and seven months after Jessica Runions also disappeared, their remains were found. A man hunting mushrooms made the gruesome discovery: two skulls. Lab tests quickly identified one skull as Jessica Runions'.
Because the second skull was much older, it took longer to identify. DNA tests did eventually confirm it was Kara Kopetsky's skull.
The skulls were found in an area Kylr Yust likely knew well.
"He has a childhood friend who he spent a lot of time with whose farm is right around the corner," said Rhonda Beckford, Kara's mother.
Two Missouri mothers brought together by heartbreak.
"We're in a group that nobody should ever be in," said Jamie Runions.
Now they stand together, united in the pursuit of one paramount goal.
"The focus is just justice for our girls," said Jamie.
On the day prosecutors charged Yust in their daughters' murders, the two mothers had one simple message of gratitude.
"We just want to thank the whole community, all of our family and friends for being with all of us. And we want to thank you guys, because you guys have been our girls' voice," said Rhonda.
Last week the families of both girls were in court as Kylr Yust pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of abandonment of a corpse.
Yust is due back in court at the end of December. Prosecutors have not said if they will seek the death penalty.
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