BELTON, Mo. - Belton police have released an age-progressed drawing that shows how Kara Kopetsky would look this weekend, on what would be her 23rd birthday, in an effort to find new clues and solve her 2007 disappearance.
Kara was 17 when she was last seen on the morning of May 4, 2007, leaving Belton High School. Belton police, along with federal, state and other local law-enforcement agencies, have been pursuing the case ever since, without success thus far.
Rhonda Beckford, Kara's mom, said the photo brings mixed emotions. She said it brings hope that more clues will be reported, but it also brings a sense of grief as she can't help but think about what could have been.
"It makes you wonder what life would be like if she wasn't missing, if she was still here," Beckford said. "You know possibly graduated from college. A lot of women I work with that are around my age have grandchildren, and they bring in the pictures of their grandchildren to work, and it makes me think I could be a grandmother if Kara was still here. "
Beckford says she takes one day at time and will never stop looking for her daughter.
"The holidays are hard, special times of the year are hard like her birthday and Valentine's Day," she said. "Some days are easy. Some days are hard. There's no rhyme or reason behind it."
Sgt. Brad Swanson has led the investigation into Kara's disappearance for the past five years. He said tips continue to come in regularly, particularly after the case is featured in media reports.
That's one reason why police released the new drawing of Kara, in conjunction with what would be her 23rd birthday on Sunday, Feb. 17. The image was developed by experts at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, with input from Kara's family.
Swanson said the case has been frustrating to law-enforcement officers charged with solving it.
"There is nothing to track," Swanson said. "No crime scene, no evidence of a crime … no prime suspect. We hope this photo will lead to something that helps us solve the case."
Anyone who has information about the case of Kara Kopetsky is asked to call Belton Police at 816-331-1500 or the TIPS hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).