KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A civilian cadaver dog working as part of a secret Kara Kopetsky sleuth group has made a “hit” on an occupied home and members of that group say Belton police are threatening them with a grand jury aimed at exposing their identities and their efforts to find the missing teenager.
“I think there's a possibility that yeah, she could possibly be there,” Kara’s mom, Rhonda Beckford told the 41 Action News Investigators shortly after our cameras documented the cadaver dog signaling its trainer.
Beckford fears police threats against members of the secret group could halt progress in the search for clues that could explain what happened to the teenager the day she disappeared in May 2007.
“From what I've been told from the individuals, yeah I do believe that they've been trying to intimidate them and scare them off so they'll quite helping us,” Beckford said Jim Beckford, Kara’s stepfather said.
Belton police have declined requests from 41 Action News for interviews, but the police chief says officers are in talks with Cass County Prosecutor Teresa Hensley about a possible grand jury investigation.
Hensley's office said police have not submitted any information supporting a grand jury investigation request.
"She hasn’t threatened anyone and she hasn’t given the police permission," Hensley's spokeswoman Georgia Sanders told the 41 Action News Investigators shortly before the story was broadcast. "There’s been nothing submitted to us at all."
Sanders said Hensley would meet with the Beckfords to discuss the case.
The department, which has been criticized for treating the case like a runaway instead of abduction, issued a written statement.
“The Belton MO Police Department has had conversations with the Cass County Prosecutor’s office about the possibility of utilizing the grand jury to question otherwise uncooperative potential witnesses,” said Police Chief James Person. “The Belton MO Police Department remains committed to the investigation into the disappearance of Kara Kopetsky.”
Sanders could not rule out the possibility some officer may have spoken to someone in the office, but said Hensley said there is no plan for a grand jury.
Some of the Kopetsky sleuths are retired law enforcement officers, others bring civilian expertise in psychology, research, or, like the woman leading the cadaver dog the night our cameras followed the search, help search for human remains.
The group came together as an earlier 41 Action News investigation identified what police experts called missteps in Belton’s investigation into Kopetsky’s disappearance.
In addition to a reported confession, the 41 Action News investigation identified a box of Kara’s possessions turned in to police two years after her disappearance, a report that Belton police did not return calls about suspicious behavior the day after she vanished, an official report that puts Kara’s initial disappearance two days earlier than previously reported, and other evidence never made public until now.
Read more: http://tinyurl.com/Kopetskyfamilyangered
In addition to body searches, group members have interviewed people who knew Kara and her friends at the time she disappeared, reviewed extensive police reports related to the case created by the Kansas City Police Department, researched internet chatter, followed-up on town gossip, and explored areas with ghoulish graffiti looking for clues.
Our cameras followed group members inside an abandoned building that looked like the set of a horror film. The walls are sprayed with satanic messages and references to Kopetsky.
“This here says, ‘Kara is gone,” said a group member, who like all members says they fear reprisal from police or suspects in the case and do not want to be identified. “It says,' I did it.'”
Although it was daylight outside, the corridors in the building were so dark, we needed several flash lights to make our way through the halls and rooms with spray paint covered walls.
One hallway has “Murder makes me happy” spray painted sideways next to references of death and Satan.
Is it the work of attention-seeking kids, or could the building be linked to Kara’s disappearance?
The Kopetsky sleuths don’t know.
Kara Kopetsky may be best remembered from the Belton High School video that shows her the day she disappeared in May 2007. Kara vanished just days after she filed a restraining order against her boyfriend, Kylr Yust, alleging he kidnapped her, restrained her, and threatened to slit her throat.
Last year, Yust pleaded guilty to domestic assault on a new girlfriend.
“I’ve killed people before, even ex-girlfriends out of sheer jealousy,” a report quotes the victim as telling police Yust said during the attack. “I will kill you.”
Read more: http://tinyurl.com/NewClueinKopetskyCase
Belton police have said Yust passed a lie detector test and had an alibi in the Kopetsky case.
The family flies a flag with Kara’s picture outside her home and new family heirlooms are further proof they haven’t