Family, friends celebrate life of Jessica Runions

Posted at 9:35 PM, Apr 28, 2017
and last updated 2020-01-03 18:42:44-05

Family and friends of once-missing 21-year-old Jessica Runions will gather for a "celebration of life" ceremony on Saturday to honor the woman whose death is now being investigated as a homicide.

Runions was reported missing in September after investigators found her car burned in a remote area.

In early April, her remains were identified after being found in a wooded area in Cass County.

</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Officials search the area in rural Cass County where two sets of human remains were discovered in early April, one of which was identified as Jessica Runions. 

On Saturday, Jessica's 14-year-old sister Megan will lead the ceremony she helped organize.

"She has been bossing us adults around, telling us how it's going to be and what she wants and what Jessica would want," explained family friend Cheryl Finch. “As hard at it will be, it's been nice to see Megan have a purpose and something to drive her."

The ceremony is expected to feature pictures and videos of Runions throughout her life.

Finch also told 41 Action News that she recently started a memorial fund to help Jessica’s 14 and 6-year-old sisters.

The money raised will go towards counseling for the two girls and their education.

“We sat around thinking, 'How can we honor Jessica? What would she want?’ Taking care of her sisters was the first thing that came to mind for many of us,” said Finch, who helped set up the online fund. “For what they've been through the last seven months, they're doing amazingly well. We want to make sure that continues.”

Kylr Yust remains behind bars on charges for allegedly “knowingly burning” Runions’s car. Yust has pleaded not guilty and will face trial in October. It was also dis

With the case still unfolding, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker hoped this weekend could bring peace to the Runions family.

“We feel it's very important to allow the Runions family, who have waited a long time for an answer as to where their daughter is, to have an opportunity to lay her to rest,” she explained.

The “celebration of life” ceremony will be held at the IBEW Local 124 building on East 103rd Terrace and will be open to the public.

A funeral will be held at a later date.

For more information on how to donate to the memorial fund, click on this link.