CWD: ONE OF TWO SETS OF REMAINS FOUND IN CASS COUNTY IDENTIFIED AS JESSICA RUNIONS; HER CASE IS NOW A HOMICIDE


It's been nine long years since Jim and Rhonda Beckford's daughter walked out the front doors of her Belton, Missouri high school and disappeared.

There are a few knowns when it comes to Kara Kopetsky's last days. They begin shortly before she disappeared around 10 a.m. that Friday, when Kara was on the phone with her ex-boyfriend Kylr Yust.

According to Kara's parents, the only think Kylr seemed to want was to be with their daughter. Eventually, Kara would try to break things off after she reportedly experienced anything but a teenage dream. After nearly a year of dating, Kara appeared to finally be through with it all.

Just two weeks before her disappearance, police learned Kara was standing in a parking lot when Kylr showed up in a rage.

"The report that was made said that she had got off work and her boyfriend at that time had came by forced her to get into his vehicle," said Belton Police Lt. Brad Swanson.

"He had kidnapped her against her will, drugged her in the car, held her and she had to jump out of that vehicle, and on a separate occasion he had choked her and he had threatened to slit her throat," said private investigator Marlene Rockwell.

That's more than just a rumor. Those threats are documented in a restraining order Kara and her parents filed against Kylr -- one in which kara herself states: "I'm unsure of what he will do next, because the abuse has gotten worse over time."

The two were talking the morning she disappeared. An acquaintance of both teens would later tell authorities that Kara and Kylr were together that morning. What happened after that meeting is still a matter of intense speculation.

Kara's parents call police to file a report. But Kara's parents say at first they had trouble getting police to listen to their concerns. There was an implication that Kara had simply run away. But in the minds of Kara's parents, and many others around town, the truth was likely something else.

"Don't even believe that Kara is a missing person, I believe that she was murdered," said Marlene Rockwell.

Officially Kara Kopetsky is considered missing, but Marlene Rockwell, a private investigator hired by her family, believes that's not true. Rockwell says she thinks the teen has been murdered. And she believes she knows who may have done it.

Kylr Yust remained a free man, until he was arrested for animal cruelty, and later, possession with intent to distribute. Kylr served three years in prison for that conviction, but still no hard evidence to connect him to Kara's disappearance.


CWD: ONE OF TWO SETS OF REMAINS FOUND IN CASS COUNTY IDENTIFIED AS JESSICA RUNIONS; HER CASE IS NOW A HOMICIDE


So who's the killer? Why did he want Kara dead? And the question with what may be one of the most shocking answers -- did he already confess?

Several years into the search for their daughter, Kara's parents got a visit from veteran private detective Marlene Rockwell, and she says her investigation led right back to where the Beckfords' suspicions began.

It's a bold accusation, but Marlene Rockwell says it's far from baseless.

"He has discussed how he murdered Kara with two individuals that I know," said Rockwell.

One of those individuals was Katelynn Farris, another one of Kylr's ex-girlfriends.

"He basically opened up to me and told me that they had been dating and that he really did love her and she basically explained to him that she didn't want to be with him anymore, and he said he kind of just freaked out," said Farris. "Things got a little physical and the next thing he knew is she wasn't breathing."

Katelynn has since shared her story with Kara's family, and the authorities. But she's not even the only person making such claims.

Rockwell has a recorded statement she took from one of Kylr Yust's ex-girlfriends, and in her interview she describes what he did to her and also what he did to Kara Kopetsky.

"He's admitted to it to me. He told me he killed her," the ex-girlfriend says on the recording. "He said 'have you ever seen the life leave someone's eyes?' He told me about all the things he did to her before he killed her. Beating her, like listening to her scream for her parents, listening to her cry and beg for her life, and how much he loved it."

If these statements are to be believed, Kylr himself has admitted his guilt. So why isn't he locked up?

"That in and of itself won't get him convicted in a court of law," said Belton Police Lt. Brad Swanson. "Because he could say 'I was just drunk and I was bragging.' Yes, you could probably get a grand jury to indict somebody for saying those things. But if it goes to a court of law and the person were trying to convict gets found not guilty, guess what? I can never try him again. Say I found a body next weekend, evidence that ties that person to the crime and he's been exonerated? That's it, we're done."

And since police say they don't have a body or physical evidence linking anyone to any crime, that's a risk they're not prepared to take.

And while officially, police can't say just who they think that person may be, with all the people we've spoken to pointing the finger at Kylr, we had to give him a chance to respond.

So after a little digging, we tracked him down to his grandfather's house, we try to give Kylr a chance to speak.

We were met by Kylr's grandfather, and almost immediately, the conversation turned tense. Especially when I asked him about some of the most shocking accusations. He said he doesn't think Kylr killed Kara.

After several minutes of back and forth, we learned Kylr was actually in the house. But his grandfather said Kylr was unavailable, and had nothing to say.

And with that, our own investigation stalled. But not before we tried one more time to get Kylr's response by phone. But he hung up.

We left Kylr one more request for an interview, but for now, this is where Kara's case stands -- with no answers, and no official suspects.

For his part, Kylr maintains his innocence, and to date no one has been charged in connection with Kara's disappearance.

Until the day comes when Kara's parents finally have their answers, they cling to dwindling hope, and lingering memories.

Police say they are just one tip away from making an arrest in this case. If you have any information, submit a tip to Crime Watch Daily.


CWD: ONE OF TWO SETS OF REMAINS FOUND IN CASS COUNTY IDENTIFIED AS JESSICA RUNIONS; HER CASE IS NOW A HOMICIDE

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