Police Meet With Families of Missing Women After Unidentified Remains Are Discovered
The women had encounters with the same man around the times they disappeared, which were years apart.
The families of two Missouri women who vanished years apart after allegedly encountering the same man were contacted to meet with investigators following the discovery of remains from two humans in the same rural area, officials said.
A mushroom hunter uncovered remains in a wooded area of Belton Monday and a second skull was found nearby the next day, authorities said.
Though investigators have not yet determined the age, sex or race of either of the remains, families of two missing persons were contacted by law enforcement, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office confirmed.
Jessica Runions, 21, was last seen leaving a gathering of friends in Kansas City on September 8, officials said. Her burned vehicle was found in a nearby wooded area two days later.
The host of that party reportedly told Runions' family that she left with 28-year-old Kylr Yust, who was arrested and charged with knowingly burning Runion’s car, cops said.
He pleaded not guilty and his trial is set for October. No other charges have been filed against him in connection to Runions' disappearance.
Yust had been previously questioned in the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend Kara Kopetsky, who was 17 years old when she was last seen at Belton High School on May 4, 2007.
Kopetsky disappeared just days after filing an order of protection against Yust, who she claimed kidnapped and restrained her, choked her and threatened to cut her throat during their nine-month relationship, according to a filing obtained by The Associated Press.
"I'm unsure what he will do next, because the abuse has gotten worse over time," Kopetsky wrote in the filing.
It also alleged that Yust stalked Kopetsky.
A judge granted the protection order request and scheduled a hearing for May 10, 2007. Kopetsky went missing six days before the court date.
Yust has not been charged in Kopetsky’s disappearance.
Kopetsky’s mother, Rhonda Beckford, told reporters that while she and Runions’ family had been called down to the police station to discuss the discovery, they were told the remains have not yet been identified.
"They didn’t give us any idea on how much time it would be before they knew," Beckford said. "We’re still waiting; we’re going to be waiting for the foreseeable future."
Though she called the waiting "frustrating," she said she believes every day that passes is another day closer to answers.
"My feeling is that Kara’s gone... [but] you always hold onto that hope; it’s what you go on," Beckford said. "We need a resolution to this. We need to find out."
"Good or bad, we just want them home. Period," said Jamie Runions, Jessica’s mother.
The Runions family, along with volunteers, scoured the area for any sign of their loved one after she disappeared, but instead found the bodies of two men over consecutive weekends in January.
“I told everybody that this should be motivation that what we are doing is good,” John Michael Runions. Jessica’s father, said at the time. “We may not have found Jessica, but somebody else’s family is going to get some answers.”
Detectives are continuing to search the area where the remains were discovered for any additional evidence.
Further examination of the remains is also currently in progress, officials said.
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