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Kylr Yust is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Missouri women Kara Kopetsky and Jessica Runions.
The following case details are taken from court documents, including the probable cause statement for the charges against Yust.
On April 28, 2007, 17-year-old Kara Kopetsky reported to Belton, Missouri, police that 18-year-old Kylr Yust had kidnapped her that evening. Documents state that Kopetsky identified Yust as her ex-boyfriend and that she had recently broken up with him.
According to Kopetsky, she was leaving her job at the Belton Popeye's Chicken when Yust forced her into his vehicle after she refused to hang out with him. He allegedly drove her around then let her out in Grandview, Missouri.
On April 30, 2007*, Kopetsky received an order of protection against Yust in Cass County, which was served to him on May 1.
On May 4, 2007, a witness arrived at the Belton Police Department at approximately 5:17 p.m. to report Kopetsky missing. The witness is identified in the probable cause statement by the initials A.C.
Police said they interviewed A.C., who said she had not seen Kopetsky for at least two days and that she could not reach her by phone.
At that time, police allegedly contacted Kopetsky's mother and stepfather, Rhonda and Jim Beckford. Rhonda Beckford said that Kopetsky had been home earlier that day but had not been heard from since.
Belton police officially put Kopetsky down as missing as of May 4, 2007.
The following day, May 5, Kopetsky's family still had not had contact with her.
Kopetsky should have picked up her paycheck from Popeye's Chicken on May 9, 2007. She never did.
On June 1, 2007, police searched Kopetsky's locker at Belton High School. Her debit card was found in the locker. There had been no activity on her bank account since her disappearance.
*The probable cause statement states that Kopetsky received the order of protection on April 30, 2017, and that Yust was served the order on May 1, 2017. That does not match the timeline given, and was likely a mistype by officials. We have corrected the information to say that those events occurred in 2007.
On May 6, 2007, officers contacted Yust at approximately 10:30 p.m. to ask about what he knew about Kopetsky's disappearance.
Yust allegedly told police he had last been in contact with Kopetsky on the afternoon of May 3, 2007. He denied seeing her on the day she was reported missing.
He did say that he had a missed call from Kopetsky on May 4, but she didn't answer when he tried to return the call.
According to police, Kopetsky's phone records revealed Yust was not truthful about when he was last in contact with her. Phone records allegedly reveal that she called Yust at 9:13 a.m. on May 4, and he called her back at 9:20 a.m. that same day.
Surveillance video at Belton High School showed Kopetsky leaving the school at 9:19 a.m. on May 4, just one minute before Yust's phone call. The surveillance video is the last look at Kopetsky alive.
When questioned on May 6, Yust allegedly stuck with his statement that he last saw Kopetsky on May 3 and last talked to her after her work shift that same day. He said that Kopetsky called him around 11 a.m. on the day she went missing, and he attempted to call her back but got no reply, which does not mach up with phone records.
Yust was again confronted with this information in September 2015 when he was housed at a correctional facility in Oklahoma on federal drug charges. He refused to answer any questions about the discrepancy in information.
Yust did, however, admit to kidnapping Kopetsky on April 28, 2007. He allegedly said he did it because she was dating other men and he was upset. Police said he also later admitted to grabbing Kopetsky by the arms several times when the two had argued.
Several months later, on July 23, 2007, Yust was again interviewed by the Belton Police Department.
Yust allegedly admitted he and Kara were arguing on May 3, the night before she disappeared, about a friend she had coming into town who she planned to hang out with.
Kopetsky's friend was identified by the initials J.H. in the probable cause statement.
Police interviewed J.H. after that. The friend, who was from St. Louis, allegedly confirmed to police that he was supposed to be with Kopetsky the weekend after she went missing, but his calls to her went unanswered on May 6. He was allegedly unaware she was missing until he called her home phone on May 7, 2007.
A witness identified by the initials K.R., who was a friend of Yust's, was interviewed in regard to Kopetsky's disappearance.
He allegedly told police that on May 4, 2007, the same day Kopetsky disappeared, she had called him to ask if she and Yust could hang out with K.R.
The witness said he told Kopetsky he was too busy, but that Yust came by his home around 12:30 p.m. to smoke a cigarette and Kopetsky was not with him.
K.R. then told police that Yust called him later that day crying and said not to tell anyone that he and Kopetsky were together earlier that day because of the protection order. The witness then told police he tried to call Kopetsky multiple times that day, but she never answered.
A few years later, on April 26, 2010, a witness identified in the probable cause statement by the initials N.Y. was interviewed by Belton police.
According to police, N.Y. was roommates with Yust in 2007 and also played in a band with him.
N.Y. allegedly said that approximately six to eight months before the interview, he had been discussing a relationship problem with Yust.
Yust allegedly told N.Y. not to get attached to girls and started talking about Kopetsky, how she wouldn't love him and he was angry.
According to police, Yust told N.Y. that he had snapped and something bad had happened to Kopetsky.
The following year, on Jan. 22, 2011, police were contacted by a witness identified as K.F.
That witness allegedly told police Yust had confessed to killing Kopetsky by choking her to death. He told K.F. he then packed her up and placed her in the woods, according to court documents.
K.F. contacted police again on Feb. 4, 2011, and said that Yust came over to her house and again confessed to choking Kopetsky to death and described watching her breathe her last breath before placing her in the woods.
Another witness, identified as C.M. and as a previous girlfriend of Yust's, was interviewed on Aug. 19, 2011.
She allegedly told police that Yust was violent, choked her and had boasted that he had killed girlfriends in the past and would not hesitate to do the same to C.M.
According to police, C.M. and Yust lived with their friend A.C.
On Oct. 5, 2016, A.C. told police that three-and-a-half years earlier Yust had told him he choked Kopetsky to death and no one would ever find her body.
On June 5, 2012, a witness identified as S.D. allegedly contacted Belton police and said that in early 2012, Yust had discussed picking up Kopetsky from school that day she went missing because she had an argument with a teacher. Yust allegedly told S.D. they were having relationship issues and got into a physical altercation when he choked her out.
Yust again allegedly discussed watching Kopetsky taking her last breath then placing her body in the woods.
A witness identified as J.C. and as a cellmate of Yust's at the Oklahoma correctional facility allegedly contacted Belton police on March 28, 2016, to say that after Yust had been interviewed about the phone records in 2015, Yust had asked J.C. to help him get an alibi and admitted to killing Kopetsky by strangling her and to disposing of her body.
That made seven total times Yust had allegedly told witnesses he had killed Kopetsky or had killed a previous girlfriend.
On Sept. 10, 2016, Jamie Runions contacted the Belton Police Department to report that her 21-year-old daughter, Jessica, was missing.
According to the probable cause statement, another unidentified family member had reported the woman as missing on Sept. 9 around 10:10 p.m. to the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department.
Jamie Runions later told 41 Action New it was also her who reported Jessica Runions as missing on Sept 9. to KCPD.
The mother reported her daughter had last been seen on Sept. 8, 2016, at a house party with a south Kansas City address. She also said that her daughter left the party with Kylr Yust.
Runions failed to meet her mother at a doctor's appointment on Sept. 9, 2016*.
According to police, investigators determined Yust and Runions were last seen leaving the party at a home in Grandview, Missouri, on Sept. 8 at approximately 11 p.m. in Runions' car, a black 2012 Chevrolet Equinox with Missouri plates MN2CB.
Witnesses allegedly told police that Yust was drinking heavily at the party and acted possessive toward Runions and aggressive to partygoers. They also said that the pair were arguing.
The party was the last location Runions was seen alive.
*The probable cause statement states that Runions failed to attend a doctor's appointment on Sept. 9, 2017. That does not fit into the timeline of her disappearance, and the year of that date has been corrected to 2016 in the story.
On Sept. 10, 2016, at 1:41 a.m., the Kansas City, Missouri, Fire Department found Ruions' car on fire in the area of 95th Street and Blue River Road in Jackson County, Missouri.
That same day, a witness identified as J.C.* contacted Belton police and allegedly said he was with Yust who had told J.C. he had strangled and killed Runions and that "she was gone."
Yust also allegedly told J.C. that he dragged Runions' body into a wooded area and asked J.C. to help burn her car.
J.C. allegedly told police he was with Yust when he set the vehicle on fire. During that time, Yust had also received burns to his hands and face, J.C. said.
The witness then told police he took Yust to his home in Edwards, Missouri, to allow him time to heal from the burns, but he then notified police about what Yust had told him that day.
The information about J.C. would eventually lead media to learn that witness' identity: Yust's step-brother, Jessep Carter.
*Two different witnesses are identified as J.C. The two appear to be separate witnesses. The first was Yust's cellmate in Oklahoma. The second appears to be his step-brother, Jessep Carter.
On Sept. 11, 2016, at 9:36 a.m., a search warrant was served at Carter's mobile home and Yust was taken into custody.
According to police, Yust had burns on his hands, face and arms and scratches on his face at that time, matching Carter's testimony.
Yust was arrested in connection to the burning of Runions' car, and not yet for murder.
On April 3, 2017, a witness identified as T.K. discovered human remains in the area of 233rd Street and Y Highway in Cass County.
A second set of remains were found in the same area the following day, and police said those remains appeared to be much older.
The Kansas City Medical Examiner's Office and Kansas City Crime Lab identified the first set of remains as Jessica Runions on April 5, 2017.
The second set of remains was identified as Kara Kopetsky on Aug. 16, 2016, at the FBI Crime Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia.
Murder charges for the deaths of Runions and Kopetsky were filed against Kylr Yust on Oct. 5, 2017. He was also charged with two counts of abandonment of a corpse, which were dismissed in court on March 4, 2021.
Jessep Carter, who was likely to be the star witness in the case against his step-brother, was arrested in July 2018 for arson and was booked into the Jackson County Jail.
On Sept. 24, 2018, officials reported that Carter was found dead in his cell.
Police did not say whether or not Carter died of suicide, or clarify any other cause of death.
On June 19, 2018, Yust pleaded not guilty to his murder charges.
Due to the volume of publicity surrounding the murder case, Yust's attorneys claimed that the trial should not be held in Cass County.
In September 2017, attorneys for both sides agreed that the trial would stay in Cass County, but jurors would be brought in from St. Charles County, which is near St. Louis.
Yust's trial was originally set to begin Nov. 4, 2019, but several delays pushed that back even further.
On Aug. 23, 2019, Yust's attorneys filed paperwork claiming that the accused double-murderer was not competent to stand trial.
A judge ordered a mental evaluation of Yust, which found him competent to stand trial. The attorneys for Yust again objected and sought a second opinion. These filings delayed the trial date.
The defense then withdrew their wish for a second opinion, provided Yust was medicated for anxiety and depression that was discovered in the original evaluation.
Another delay came in the discovery process, and with the defense's delayed decision on whether or not to independently test the remains of Runions and Kopetsky.
The COVID-19 pandemic and several pre-trial motions, including a motion to dismiss the case altogether, from the defense further delayed the trial.
Jury selection is slated to begin at the end of March. The trial is set to begin April 5.