‘I just feel it is long overdue’: Cass County community reacts as Kylr Yust murder trial begins

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HARRISONVILLE, Mo. — Kara Kopetsky’s disappearance 14 years ago has greatly affected the Cass County community. In many ways, it became engrained in the fabric of their lives.

Kylr Yust has always been the prime suspect in the disappearance of Kara Kopetsky, but it took 10 years and the life of another young woman, Jessica Runions, before he was charged in 2017.

It’s a big deal for people who live in the Cass County community that Yust’s trial has finally started.

“I just feel it is long overdue,” said Cheyenne Sprowl. “People want to see that justice is served.”

Sprowl was 8-years-old when 17-year-old Kopetsky went missing in April 2007.

“I was hoping that she would come home but I knew from my reading that they don’t usually come home,” Sprowl said.

Kopetsky’s disappearance followed by 21-year-old Jessica Runions’ in 2016, made a strong impression on Sprowl in her formative years.

“Just knowing that it could happen to anybody. No one is safe,” Sprowl said.

It was a similar feeling of anxiety for Mike Bukaty.

“I have got a 13 year old granddaughter that I am raising. It impacts,” he said.

Bukaty has been raising his granddaughter for ten years, always vigilant in protecting her. Reminded that a monster was out there, he often saw the well-known pleas placed throughout Cass County from Kopetsky’s friends and family.

“I go on motorcycle rides down by Oceola and I see signs with her information on it all of the time over there,” Bukaty said.

The fear sparked by Kopetsky’s disappearance shaped the way many parents in the area raised their children. 

“I have a son that is 19 years old so back then he was a preteen and it bothered me that our kids are getting snatched up,” said Sara Royster.. “So, we have always had conversations in the home about how to be safe, know your surroundings. Make sure you have good friends and that you are hanging with the right crowd. That’s really the take away.”

The community was relieved after Yust was arrested but they said real closure will come if he is convicted.

Sketches by Baldemar Rivas

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