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'We won': Kopetsky, Runions families describe grim triumph in Yust murder trial

kopetsky runions families after sentencing
Posted at 6:09 PM, Jun 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 20:48:29-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The families of Kara Kopetsky and Jessica Runions spoke with sorrowful triumph after their daughters' killer, Kylr Yust, received the maximum sentences for his crimes on Monday.

It was a moment more than a decade in the making for the Kopetsky family after she went missing in 2007.

Her stepfather, Jim Beckford, spoke for the group Monday.

"One thing that comes to mind is just the love, the love everyone has shown," he said. "We’re very thankful, thankful for justice to come."

For the Beckfords, justice wasn't just about making sure Yust stayed behind bars — it was about bringing the girls home.

"We thought about justice and it was never anyone or anything we were after. What we were after was Kara and Jessica and finding them, bringing them home," Jim and Kopetsky's mother, Rhonda Beckford, said.

Runions's mother, Jamie Runions, last saw her daughter in 2016 when Jessica disappeared following a gathering she'd attended with Yust.

Monday, she thanked the Kansas City and Cass County community for everything over the course of the case.

"They have shown so much love, respect. They’ve prayed with us. They’ve done amazing things in their community, and we just appreciate everybody," Jamie Runions said.

More than anything, the families are grateful the girls are home, together.

"We won. They won. Kara and Jessica won. They’re with us now," Jim Beckford said.

With emotion in his voice, he took Rhonda and Jamie's hands in his, raising them high in a moment of victory that took 14 years to reach.

Yust was sentenced to 15 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter in Kopetsky's death and life imprisonment for second-degree murder in Runions' death.

In Missouri, life imprisonment is capped at 30 years, with eligibility for parole after 85% of the sentence has been served.

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.