Kara Kopetsky was 17 years old when she went missing on May 4, 2007. She was last seen on security footage inside Belton High School, where she was a junior, around 10:30 a.m. that day. She left school shortly after and was never seen again. Kopetsky called her mother, Rhonda Beckford, from school that morning to say she had forgotten a textbook. Beckford dropped the book off at school but did not see her at that time. When Kopetsky failed to return home after school and didn’t pick up a paycheck from her part-time job, her parents reported her as missing.
Belton police say that when contacted on May 4, 2007, Beckford told officers her daughter had actually been missing since May 2 and that she had left willingly. The family refutes that police report and stands by their assertions that they last saw their daughter on the morning of May 4.
Kopetsky’s mother alerted police to her ex-boyfriend, Kylr Yust, who had reportedly been abusive toward her. Kopetsky’s family said the two had been dating on and off since the fall of 2006. Kopetsky had filed a protective order against Yust, who was 18 at the time of her disappearance, on April 30, 2007. In a handwritten statement, she described his abuse and wrote that she was “unsure of what he will do next. The abuse has gotten worse over time.”
Yust was questioned at the time of the disappearance and acknowledged in a 2007 interview that police had considered him a suspect, but he was not charged with murder until Oct. 4, 2017, after the bodies of Kopetsky and another missing woman, Jessica Runions, were discovered in a wooded area near Belton.
A mushroom hunter spotted human remains on April 3, 2017, and another set of remains were found nearby the next day, nearly a decade after Kopetsky initially went missing. Kopetsky’s remains were sent to the FBI for examination and not officially identified until Aug. 16, 2017.
She was finally laid to rest in September of 2017, much to the relief of family and friends.