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Kopetsky family weighs in on Jessica Runions disappearance, link to Kylr Yust

Posted: 4:42 PM, Sep 11, 2016
Updated: 2016-09-13 09:21:24-04
Kopestsky family speaks on Runions disappearance
Kopestsky family speaks on Runions disappearance

Jessica Runions and Kara Kopetsky have two things in common. They are both missing and both have a connection to Kylr Yust

Yust is the last person to be seen with Jessica Runions and also the ex-boyfriend of Kara Kopetsky, who was last seen alive in 2007.

On Sunday, 41 Action News spoke with the parents of Kara Kopetsky, Jim and Rhonda Beckford.

“You don’t know how hard we pray for Jessica,” said Jim Beckford.

Yust has a lengthy criminal record. In 2011, he pleaded guilty on abuse charges after his ex-girlfriend told police he strangled her. He was also convicted after stealing from a tattoo shop and for stomping and tossing a kitten into a river.

On Sunday, 41 Action News attempted to track down Yust at his last known address, his grandfather’s house. Yust’s grandfather told 41 Action News he has not seen Yust since Friday morning. Runions has been missing since Thursday night. He also said he does not know if Yust has anything to do with the disappearance of Kopetsky or Runions.

“Unfortunately it was our feeling that as long as he was out that he was going to continue to do what he has always done victimize young innocent girls,” said Rhonda Beckford.

Sunday afternoon investigators brought four search dogs to search the wooded area where Runions’s car was found burned, near 95th and Blue River Road. Investigators told 41 Action News on scene that they have no updates to give on the disappearance of Runions.

Parents, private investigator talk Yust’s arrest

Jim and Rhonda Beckford told 41 Action News on Monday they are relieved Yust is behind bars.

“When I first heard he was arrested and in custody I felt a sense of relief because it’s early on in Jessica’s investigation. She still hasn’t been located or found, and they have the person that she was last seen with,” said Jim Beckford.

“Now that he is in custody hopefully they’re interviewing him and getting him to give up and find out where Jessica is and possibly even get some more information about Kara,” said Rhonda Beckford.

They believe Yust knows what happened to Kopetsky, and the family’s private investigator, Marlene Rockwell, agrees. Rockwell said she believes Yust is responsible for Kopetsky’s disappearance.

Rockwell also noted the similarities in the disappearances of Kopetsky and Runions.

“Both of the girls’ phones were shut off immediately,” said Rockwell. “Both girls look alike, both were young and naïve, the kind that only a coward would try to control though his manipulation.” 

Rockwell also said both girls had plans for the future, and both knew Yust.

Watch an extended interview with Rockwell below. If you cannot see the video player, click here to watch.

Before Kopetsky vanished she filed for a restraining order against Yust, claiming Yust had been abusive towards her. In the document, she wrote why she felt the restraining order is necessary, “Because I am unsure of what he will do next the abuse has gotten worse over time." 

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Ali Hoxie can be reached at  ali.hoxie@kshb.com

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