Law enforcement resumes search for additional human remains in Cass County

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CASS COUNTY, Mo. -- The search for more human remains resumed early Thursday in an area where law enforcement has already found two human skulls.

More than 100 investigators from several agencies will be on the scene near East 233rd and State Route Y, South of Belton looking for clues to help identify the second set of remains.

One of two sets of remains has been identified as Jessica Runions, who disappeared last September. Runions was last seen at a party Sept. 8, 2016 with her boyfriend and one of his friends, Kylr Yust. Her case is now being investigated as a homicide.

Jessica Runions on left and Kara Kopetsky on right

The second set of remains has not been identified, but investigators believe they may belong to Kara Kopetsky, who has been missing since May 2007. She was last seen leaving Belton High School. Her family says, the then 17-year-old had walked to school, but later that morning was seen on a surveillance camera leaving the school.

Rhonda Beckford, Kara's mom, was with the Runions family when word broke of the identification. Beckford says she believes the second set belongs to Kara but was told it could take up to a year to make a positive identification.

"I don't know what to think," Beckford said. "I'm hopeful that it doesn't take that long. But we've waited 10 years. The only thing I can say is we're almost there."

Kylr Yust was involved with Kara Koptesky before her disappearance. Yust has never been charged in her disappearance, but she and her mother, Rhonda Beckford, filed a restraining order against him shortly before she vanished. The order wasn’t officially granted until after she disappeared.

Yust was also a friend of Jessica Runions. He has been charged in Jackson County with 'knowingly burning' in connection to Jessica Runions' case and car.  He was arrested in September 2016 at his family's home in Edwards, Mo., in Benton County, about two hours from Kansas City. He has not faced additional charges related to her disappearance.

Kylr Yust's Benton County mugshot

In 2011, Yust, then 22,  was charged with two counts of animal abuse, including smashing a kitten against a bathroom floor.  According to prosecutors, Yust allegedly smashed the head of a kitten against a bathroom floor on July 5, 2011, and then allegedly drowned two kittens in a bag in an area creek on July 20, 2011.

A week before the animal abuse charges, Yust was placed on two years probation after pleading guilty to beating and choking his 18-year-old pregnant girlfriend. According to police reports, Yust allegedly told the teen that he could dispose of body parts in a pig pen on a family ranch.

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