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‘Pathetic’ brute killed women with bare hands 10 years apart ‘for rejecting him’

Kara Kopetsky was a typical fun-loving teenager with a contagious smile that made people gravitate towards her.

High school student, who loved animals and music, was a close friend and confidante to her family. In 2006, Kylr Yust, a 17-year-old girl from Belton in Missouri, changed her life.

Kara was laid-back, friendly, and affectionate, but Yust, 18 years old, was intense, and had a temper that caused her all kinds of problems.

They dated for nine months before breaking up in April 2007 – and then things started to turn nasty.

Kara reported to police that Yust had forced Kara into his car because she wouldn’t go out with him.

She claimed he’d driven her around before finally letting her go, saying in her statement, “I’m unsure what he will do next because the abuse had gotten worse over time.”

Kara applied for a protection order, which was served to Yust on 1 May.

CCTV footage shows Kara leaving her school in May 2007
CCTV footage shows Kara leaving her school in May 2007

On 4 May, just after 9am, security cameras captured Kara unexpectedly leaving Belton High School. That night, she didn’t show up for work and she didn’t return to the family home.

She was reported missing by her worried mother, and soon a search began.

When questioned, Yust said he’d spoken to Kara on the phone but he didn’t know where she was. According to phone records, Yust and she had spoken on the phone just before she left for school that morning.

A mutual friend of the estranged couple told police that Yust had admitted he’d seen Kara in person but told them not to tell anyone as he had violated the protection order.

Yust denied having anything to do with Kara vanishing but her family and the police weren’t so sure. There was no way to find out more about Yust or to prove that he was involved in Kara’s disappearance.

Kara’s belongings, including her bank card, were found in her locker at the school as though she would return to collect them – but she never did.

Over the years, many of Kylr Yust’s girlfriends told the police he was jealous, erratic and violent
Over the years, many of Kylr Yust’s girlfriends told the police he was jealous, erratic and violent

Weeks turned into months, then years. Kara’s family were convinced that Yust was to blame for her disappearance and his behaviour only fuelled their suspicions.

Over the years, many of Yust’s girlfriends told the police he was jealous, erratic and violent. Yust threatened and choked his former partner, leading to him being placed under probation. There were
also charges for animal cruelty after he harmed kittens and more protection orders were taken out against him.

Yust was sentenced to four year imprisonment in 2013 for drug trafficking. But still, frustratingly, Kara’s fate remained unknown.

Yust was released in September 2016. Jessica Runions went to a party in Grandview on the 8th of September 2016.

The 21-year old was a pastry chef at a retirement community restaurant and was recently promoted. She wanted to go to college and study journalism.

After being seen leaving the party, she disappeared with a man. Her concerned family reported her missing. Hours later, the black Chevy Equinox she was driving was found in a remote forest area. It had been set ablaze. Investigators were then shocked when they found out who Jessica had left the party with – Yust, then aged 27.

Jessica Runions vanished after leaving a party with Yust in 2016
Jessica Runions vanished after leaving a party with Yust in 2016

Witnesses said he’d been drinking heavily and acting “possessively” towards Jessica and aggressively towards other people.

Yust’s half-brother, Jessep Carter, came forward to say that Yust had asked him to set fire to Jessica’s vehicle. Yust, with burns all over his body, was taken into custody and refused bail while he waited to be tried. There was no evidence Jessica had been injured.

Understandably, Kara’s family watched developments closely. What if history had repeated itself almost a decade later. After Jessica vanished seven months ago, mushroom hunters found a human skull in remote Cass County. After a thorough search, police discovered a second set remains. This was a much older set than the first.

Tragically, Jessica was the one who was identified with the second set of remains. Months later, it was revealed that the other set was Kara.

They had both been found nine miles from Kara’s school and just metres away from each other.

And there was one terrible connection – the last man they both saw before they died.

Kylr Yust denied killing the two women
Kylr Yust denied killing the two women

In October 2017, Yust was charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Jessep was to have been a key witness in the case, but he was taken into custody over arson charges. He died in prison in 2018 while awaiting his trial.

After pleading guilty to the charges, Yust faced a jury in 2018.

The prosecution said that Yust had likely killed both Kara and Jessica with his bare hands before dumping them both in “his spot” – and that he had done it because they had rejected him.

“When Kara tried to end her relationship with Yust because of abuse, Yust said, ‘If I can’t have her, nobody can’,” According to the prosecution, “Yust murdered Jessica with deliberation, same as he did Kara – because no one else can have Jessica, either.”

Yust was called an “obsessive, jealous, pathetic” man who could not accept that both victims had stood up to him. The defense said that there was no evidence linking him to the murders.

Yust, who was a witness in the case, tried to put the blame on Yust’s dead half-brother. “I didn’t do anything to either of them,” He stated.

The prosecution said he must be the “most unlucky guy in the world” to have two of his former girlfriends go missing. “Anyone who has a brother who is a serial killer is unlucky,” Yust replied.

The defence claimed there was no evidence to link Kylr Yust to the deaths
The defence claimed there was no evidence to link Kylr Yust to the deaths

But there were plenty of witnesses lined up to discredit him.

Yust was a former girlfriend who was 17, and she claimed they lived together.

Yust, she claimed, was drunk when she attempted to pack her bags and leave.

As he strangled her, he’d allegedly said, “I have killed other ex-girlfriends in jealousy. I will kill you before you can let another scream out of your throat.”

Another ex, who had suffered violence at his hands, had worn a recording device for the FBI which captured Yust saying that Kara had refused to get in his car the day she vanished, so he’d grabbed her by the hair and forced her in.

Another had heard Yust say that he’d killed Kara because “she didn’t love him” and he “didn’t want anyone else to have her”.

In closing arguments, the defence said “talk is cheap” when they referred to Yust’s supposed confessions and insisted there was no evidence to connect him with the deaths.

The prosecution set a timer to how long it takes to strangle someone to death and asked the jury to think about Kara and Jessica as the clock ticked down. “Those two girls didn’t know each other in life but they will be united forever together in death,” They agreed.

In April this year, the jury found Yust not guilty of first-degree murder but guilty of manslaughter for Kara’s death and second-degree murder for Jessica’s death.

Yust was sentenced in June. Kara’s mum, Rhonda Beckford, expressed her disappointment that her daughter’s killer hadn’t been found guilty of first-degree murder.

“I don’t really feel that justice was served as far as Kara’s concerned,” She said. “I’m so sorry, Kara. I tried.”

She described Kara as a “bright and shining light snuffed out too soon” and added that she was convinced Yust would kill again if he was given the chance.

Yust was 32 and received the maximum 15 year sentence for voluntary manslaughter, and life imprisonment for second-degree murder. Missouri has a maximum life sentence of 30 years. Yust’s terms will run consecutively for 45 years.

Yust still denies his guilt, showing an absolute lack of remorse. He appeared to have got away with killing once so he thought he could do it again – but his victims were united in death and together, they finally put him behind bars.

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'Pathetic' brute killed women with bare hands 10 years apart 'for rejecting him'
Anurag Reddy
I'm a 29-year-old travel enthusiast, travel and nature photographer, Computer Science graduate, and Mass Communication student. I have seen different shades of life through traveling and lived different lives through reading. With every word I write, I travel within, and I understand myself better. Writing helps me discover myself, and that paved roads for me to choose writing as a profession.


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