"This man is a monster. He deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison.” — Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt
Kara Kopetsky was 17 years old when she went missing on May 4, 2007. She was last seen at her high school in Belton, where she had recently dropped out. She had reportedly told friends that she was planning to get a restraining order against Kylr Yust — her emotionally and physically abusive ex-boyfriend.
According to her family and friends, Kara Kopetsky was a smart and outgoing young woman who enjoyed music and spending time with friends.
"Kara was the type of person that if she felt that you needed a friend, she was going to try to be that friend." Rhonda Beckford, mother
The Abusive Drugged-out Ex
Kylr Yust had a history of violent behavior and criminal activity prior to his arrest, including multiple domestic violence incidents and drug-related charges.
Kylr Yust was born on May 23, 1988, in Grandview, Missouri, and grew up in the Kansas City area.
“He was a master manipulator, and he was very good at getting what he wanted from people.” — One of Yust’s ex-girlfriends, who testified during his trial for the murder of Kara Kopetsky
Yust’s parents divorced when he was a child, and he reportedly had a difficult upbringing. He struggled in school and was diagnosed with ADHD and depression. Those who knew Kylr said that he had anger issues and had been involved in fights and other altercations.
According to court records, Yust’s criminal history began in his teens, when he was charged with theft, burglary, and drug possession. He was placed on probation and ordered to attend drug treatment programs, but he continued to have run-ins with the law over the years.
He reportedly used a variety of drugs, including methamphetamine and heroin.
Jessica Runions, 21, had recently started working at a local bar in Kansas City. On the night of September 8, 2016, Runions attended a party with friends at a house in south Kansas City. She left the party around 10:30 p.m. with Kylr Yust, who was seen on surveillance footage leaving the party with her.
The following day, Runions’ car was found burned out in a remote area of Kansas City, and she was reported missing by her family. Yust was initially considered a person of interest in her disappearance, but he was not charged until months later, after the remains of both Runions and Kara Kopetsky, were found in Cass County.
According to her family and friends, Jessica Runions was a fun-loving and outgoing young woman who was very close to her family. She enjoyed spending time with friends, listening to music, and dancing.
“She was in the prime of life,” Jessica’s father John Runions told the jury. “She was 21 years old. She had the whole world ahead of her.”
The exact details of how Kylr Yust killed Jessica Runions have not been publicly disclosed. During his murder trial for Runions’ death in 2021, the prosecution argued that Yust strangled her to death and then disposed of her body. The defense maintained that there was no evidence linking Yust to Runions’ death and suggested that she could have died from a drug overdose or other causes.
Both Kara Kopetsky’s and Jessica Runions’ remains were found in a wooded area in rural Cass County, Missouri, on April 3, 2017. A mushroom hunter came across two human skulls while searching for mushrooms in the area. Positive identification was made through DNA analysis.
Kylr Yust was later charged and convicted of the murders of both Kara Kopetsky and Jessica Runions, based on evidence that included witness testimony and DNA analysis.
There is evidence that Kylr Yust had a history of violence and abusive behavior towards women, and it has been suggested that his anger at being rejected by Kara Kopetsky and Jessica Runions may have played a role in their murders.
“He’s a sick, twisted individual. He has no regard for human life.” — Another of Yust’s ex-girlfriends, who testified during his trial for the murder of Jessica Runions
Also, during Yust’s trial for the murder of Jessica Runions, witnesses testified that Yust had been angry and aggressive towards her at a party shortly before she disappeared.
Kylr Yust has never admitted or confessed to killing Kara Kopetsky or Jessica Runions. However, there have been a number of witnesses who have testified against him, including several ex-girlfriends who have said that he made incriminating statements to them.
For example, during Yust’s trial for the murder of Kara Kopetsky, one of his ex-girlfriends testified that Yust had told her that he killed Kara and buried her in a field. Another ex-girlfriend testified that Yust had told her that he killed Jessica Runions and buried her in a shallow grave.
During his trial for the murder of Kara Kopetsky, Kylr Yust attempted to shift blame onto his half-brother, Jessep Carter. Yust claimed that he had seen Carter strangle Kara and that he had helped his half-brother dispose of the body.
However, the jury ultimately found Yust guilty of the murder, and there was no evidence presented during the trial to support Yust’s claim that his half-brother was responsible for the crime. In fact, there was significant evidence, including witness testimony and DNA analysis, that linked Yust to the murder.
Furthermore, during Yust’s trial for the murder of Jessica Runions, there was no mention of Jessep Carter, and Yust was convicted of that murder as well based on other evidence.