Belton ready to see resolution nearly 14 years after Kara Kopetsky’s disappearance

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BELTON, Mo. — On Monday, the double murder trial of Kylr Yust begins in Cass County. For the Belton community and the loved ones of Kara Kopetsky, it’s a chance at justice more than 10 years in the making.

In the past nearly 14 years, Belton has seen changes. The high school has been upgraded, and the Popeyes that Kopetsky worked at is gone. However, the hope for justice always stayed the same.

Belton is where then-17-year-old Kopetsky grew up and made friends. It’s where she met Corrie Dawson. They knew each other for about a year-and-a-half. She was not only friends with Kopetsky, but Yust as well.

“She had dimples in her cheeks every time she smiled, you know. She was nice. I really enjoyed her company a lot, actually,” Dawson said.

In 2007, Kopetsky went from a teen girl at Belton High to someone everyone in Belton knew. Her face was posted all around town — on billboards, signs and on every news station.

People around town said you couldn’t escape her face and the need for her to come home safely.

“It was a big deal. Everybody heard about it. I remember seeing it on the news and seeing the billboards, and nobody could find her,” Briana Bowers said.

“I remember feeling heartbroken for the family. I mean, I felt like I was holding out hope she was alive,” Susan Manda said.

Kopetsky was last seen at Belton High back in 2007. The last moments anyone saw her were captured on grainy video from a high school security camera. That is, until mushroom hunters found her in rural Cass County in 2017, along with the remains of 21-year-old Jessica Runions.

The girls’ common thread was a connection to Yust. He was Kopetsky’s ex-boyfriend and a friend of Runions. Now, Yust is charged with first-degree murder in both of their deaths and is set to go on trial for three weeks, starting Monday.

“I want Kara’s soul to finally just be at peace, and I want Kylr to get the worst, and I want her family to kind of be able to move on,” Dawson said.

People in Cass County hope that although Kopetsky and Runions are gone, soon their families can focus on the women they love instead of fighting for justice.

“I can’t even imagine. I’m sure it makes them feel better just to know that they could have some peace about it,” Manda said.

“Domestic violence is real, and that when you see the signs, you, you speak up,” Dawson said.

FOX4 will be in the court room for the trial and will have live blogs on fox4kc.com. You can also find daily updates on air and online.

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