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'I just want to see justice': Mushroom hunter who found Kopetsky, Runions attends Yust trial

keith todd mushroom hunter yust trial
Posted at 7:40 PM, Apr 15, 2021

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The mushroom hunter who found Jessica Runions’ and Kara Kopetsky’s remains said he is happy he could help bring some measure of closure to the young women’s families.

Keith Todd took the witness stand for the prosecution on Saturday in the murder trial of their accused killer, Kylr Yust.

While mushroom hunting in 2017, he came across Runions’ skull. A wide search of the area later revealed a second set of remains, determined months afterward to be Kopestky’s.

“There’s a thousand thoughts run through your mind, you know? One is, ‘Is this what I’m looking at?’” Todd said. “There’s a thousand different scenarios that run through your head.”

In an interview with 41 Action News, Todd said he wasn’t scared when he saw Runions’ skull, but knew he needed to tell someone what he’d found.

"If you find something, you got to get involved. I've had people [tell] me they didn't know if they'd say anything,” Todd said. “I told them I didn't know I had a choice not to say anything. You find a skull, you've got to tell somebody. You can't just leave it lay there and turn your back like something never happened. I mean there was two human bodies laying there and I didn't know I had a choice.”

Without Todd speaking up, it’s unclear how much longer the two would have been missing.

“It gets no traffic in through there and yeah, Kara was missing for 10 years and it would've probably been another 10 years, or 20 … who knows how long it would've been?” Todd said. "With the rains that we got just shortly after I found them, they could've very well been washed down into the creek and gone."

He has a daughter around Kopetsky’s age, and said his outlook on the experience is one of thankfulness.

"I was honored that I was able to help bring this to a closure. I mean for a family to go 10 years without knowing where your child is just heart wrenching, and with Jessica, seven months is like an eternity,” Todd said. “I'm just grateful that the good Lord and these girls led me to the remains that day."

Todd hasn’t lost sight of the bigger goal: justice for Kopetsky and Runions.

“I just want to see justice. I want to see these girls — I want to see these parents — get the closure that they need," Todd said.

He did receive a $50,000 reward from the FBI for finding the remains.

Todd said he still has the money and wants to put some of it toward good causes.

In court Saturday, the defense team questioned him about the reward.

"It was kind of starting to piss me off, but I guess at the end of it she was just grasping for any straw that she could possibly get to throw a burr into the justice process here," Todd said of attorney Sharon Turlington.

He said the reward money is going to make his retirement a little easier. He had to retire at 57 after suffering his ninth heart attack.

41 Action News is committed to bringing you complete coverage of the trial of Kylr Yust, the man accused in the murders of Kara Kopetsky and Jessica Runions. Visit kshb.com/yusttrial for all our stories, case details, timeline and more.