Caution as investigators navigate difficult terrain in search for clues in Cass County

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

CASS COUNTY, Mo. -- Investigators are still searching for clues Thursday in the area where two sets of human remains were found.

A mushroom hunter found the bones on Monday just south of Belton near East 233rd and Y-Highway.

More than 100 investigators from the Belton Police, Kansas City Police, Raymore Police Department, FBI, Jackson County Medical Examiner Office, Academy recruits from MCC Blue River, Wyandotte County, and Kansas City Police Academy were there to help. Western Cass County Fire and Belton Fire/EMS Department and Take it To the Streets are providing support for the operation.

Captain Kevin Tieman with the Cass County Sheriff's Department said crews have a large area with difficult terrain to cover.

"It's very difficult," Capt. Tieman said. "It's wet. It's muddy, obviously. Our first day out here there were snakes, venomous snakes, and things like that, that we're having to deal with. So, when you're dealing with, crawling around on your hands and knees, it's something we want to take very slowly."

The captain said crews are being very cautious, but they want to thorough to bring closure to both families.

"Today that is our primary mission to gather and collect as much evidence as we can," Capt. Tieman said. "I don't know if we'll finish today, maybe tomorrow. We're prepared to stay out here as long as we need to, but at this point our primary goal is to collect any and all evidence we can find."

According to Capt. Tieman, investigators will walk shoulder to shoulder to search the areas. He also said crews will do several searches.

"One will be a preliminary search going through then they'll start to remove the undergrowth and debris and do a secondary search after that to continue to identify areas of interest that are out there," Captain Tieman said.

The wooded search area of concentration is about 10 to 15 acres.

"In order to preserve locations where we find evidence, they're going to grid that off into squares that way during the investigation by Kansas City going forward, so items that we collected as evidence, we're going to need to reference back to where they were collected from,"  Capt. Tieman said.

There is a six-mile portion of State Route that will remain closed Thursday while crews continue their investigation.

Watch Capt. Tieman's full briefing below:

Investigators say that one of two sets of human remains found in Cass County are missing woman Jessica Runions, who hasn't been seen since September. The Jackson County Medical Examiner made the identification, and her family has been notified.

Police were previously investigating her case as a disappearance, and it's now been classified as a homicide.

The second set of remains hasn't been identified, though investigators think they may be Kara Kopetsky's, who has been missing since May of 2007.

Runions was last seen the night of Thursday, September 8 when she left a party at about 9:30 with a friend of her boyfriend's, Kylr Yust.

Police found her Chevrolet Equinox burned out in a remote area near Blue River Road and Bannister a day after her mom reported her missing on September 9. Investigators searched the area surrounding where the SUV was found without success.

Police wanted Yust for questioning related to the discovery, and he was arrested on family property in Edwards, Mo., about two hours southeast of Kansas City, on September 11. He was subsequently charged with knowingly burning a vehicle. He didn't answer reporters' questions about Runions' whereabouts when he was transferred to the jail.

Although Jessica and Kara probably never knew each other, and although Jessica is about five years younger than Kara, they do a share a connection to Yust, who was Kara's boyfriend.

He pleaded not guilty to the knowingly burning a vehicle, and is currently in custody at the Jackson County Detention Center. His case has been sealed but his trial for the Class D felony is scheduled for October 16, 2017.

Runions worked as a baker at an assisted living facility, mixing her love for being in the kitchen, with her love for caring for people, both young and old.