Kylr Yust Trial: Mushroom hunter takes the stand recounting discovery


HARRISONVILLE, Mo. — Day six of the Kylr Yust trial went through most of Saturday. A collection of experts took the stand, but one witness recounted the moments he found the victim’s remains.

Cass County is rural, and a perfect location for mushroom hunting. It’s something Keith Todd does every spring.

“Just a lot of looking, a lot of walking, and you’ve got to cover a lot of ground,” Todd said.

On April 3, 2017, he went looking for morel mushrooms on a property he knew from growing up.

“Is it a place that’s frequented by many people?” prosecuting attorney Ben Butler asked Todd.

“No,” Todd said.

“Deer hunters or farmers?” Butler asked.

“No,” Todd said. “You can’t hardly walk through it. It’s pretty wooly.”

While walking around the area something caught his eye.

“I was just walking through there watching the ground,” Todd said. “I was on game trails and such where it was easier walking, and just looking on both sides of the trail just hoping to spot a mushroom,” Todd asid.

“Did you find some?” Butler asked.

“No,” Todd said.

What did you find?” Butler asked.

“I found a skull,” Todd said.

Todd told the jury once he realized he found what looked like human remains he went back to his truck and called police. Corporal Justin Clayborne with the Clay County Sheriff’s Department responded to the call, and went into the woods with Todd.

“He pointed what he believed was a skull and I believed that it probably was,” Clayborne said.

The skull of what would later be identified as Jessica Runions. When Todd found her, the search uncovered Kara Kopetsky’s.

During the testimony Kylr Yust would not look up from the table at the images of the girl’s bones. He could be seen holding his chin in his hand and looking down. Most of the trial he is intently listening, writing, or what looks to be drawing.

Yust’s lawyer, Molly Hastings, questioned Todd.

“Technically, you agree on that particular day you were trespassing,” Hastings said.

“Yes, ma’am,” Todd said.

“When you were in that area and you discovered this you contacted the police,” Hastings said.

“Yep,” Todd said.

“You were aware these girls had been missing,” Hastings said.

“Yep,” Todd responded.

“You were also aware that a reward was available,” Hastings said.

“Yes,” Todd said.

However, Todd says reward money was the last thing on his mind that day.

“Were you searching for reward money?” Butler asked.

“For what?” Todd says not understanding.

“Reward money,” Butler reiterates.

“No,” Todd said. “I was looking for mushrooms.”

“What did you find?” Butler asks.

“What did I find?” Todd pointed to the photo in front of him. “I found Kara and Jessy.”

“Nothing further,” Butler said.

The jury also saw a lot of evidence having to do with the girl’s remains, how they were identified, and how they were collected. Doctors, a former medical examiner, technicians, a forensic dentist, and a DNA analyst from Quantico all testified.

Court will not be in session on Sunday and will resume Monday morning at 8:30am for the second week of proceedings.

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