BELTON, Mo. - A 41 Action News investigation has uncovered new evidence in the Kara Kopetsky case, including a possible confession and disputed timeline.
There are two parts of this investigation.
“It just solidifies what I had already suspected,” said Kara’s mom, Rhonda Beckford. “Which is they're not doing their job. They're not trying to find Kara.”
In addition to a reported confession, the NBC 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.
“This amount of compelling information coming out in a news investigation rather than a police investigation is very troubling,” said Retired FBI Agent Michael Tabman after he reviewed what NBC Action News Investigators uncovered.
Kara Kopetsky vanished shortly after surveillance cameras captured her walking out of Belton High School about 10:00 a.m on Friday, May 4, 2007.
She was only 17.
When did Kara really disappear: May 2, 2007 or May 4, 2007?
Kara’s mother was shocked to learn that Belton Police records put her daughter’s initial disappearance on May 2, 2007—two days earlier than she was publicly reported missing.
According to the Belton police report obtained by the Investigators, when Rhonda was contacted on May 4, 2007 regarding the disappearance of her daughter, she told detectives that Kara “has, in fact, been missing since May 2, 2007” and that she believed Kara “is with the suspect willingly and is not being held against her will.”
However Rhonda said the documentation is erroneous. “It essentially says I thought my daughter was a runaway, when I did not think that,” Beckford said. “I felt that her life was in danger, or I would not have called the police and reported her missing.”
“I just don't know what Belton thinks that they're doing,” Rhonda said. “It's all lies and this is the first time we've seen the report. Why are we just now seeing this?”
Belton Police Chief James Person declined our requests for an interview, but issued a statement standing by the report.
“There is no discrepancy in our police reports,” Person wrote. “They are dated and time stamped, and have not changed since the original report was written 4 1/2 years ago.”
The Belton report also said police contacted the family by phone, but the family said that never happened.
Rhonda emphasized that the family saw Kara the morning of May 4, 2007 and would have had no reason to say she’d already been missing for two days.
“It contradicts everything that we have reported about Kara and her disappearance for the last four and a half years,” said Jim Beckford, Kopetsky’s stepfather. “That report is nothing but a lie.”
The Belton Police report said Kara’s mom told the officer over the phone that a friend of Kara’s had told her Kara was with a friend “at his band practice in the basement of an unknown residence.”
The Beckfords said there was never a conversation like that.
“Now they produce this report that makes it look like we thought she was a runaway when that's all just a lie,” Rhonda Beckford said. “We thought Kara's life was in danger.”
Belton Police say report hasn't changed since May 4, 2007
“Memories can change and fade, but these written documents are a permanent written record as information was presented to the police officers,” Chief Person wrote in response to our questions. “I will not be put in a position of public conflict, but remain willing to share any public information which may assist in the resolution of this case.”
The Beckfords said that the school surveillance video from the same day proves Kara was accounted for until the date of the previously reported disappearance.
“None of this ever came from us,” Jim said. “We never felt that Kara was, and never said that she was willingly with anyone.”
The Beckfords both say there was never a phone call from police that day, and that when an officer did come to their home, they say he didn’t write anything down.
An $80,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the return of Kara Kopetsky.
The family and Belton Police both ask anyone with information on the case to call the Tips Hotline at (816) 474-TIPS or to submit an anonymous tip online.