HARRISONVILLE, Mo. — A “million-dollar smile,” a short discussion through a drive-thru window and a Coke with light ice. That’s how Jim Beckford, Kara Kopetsky’s stepfather, remembered the last time he saw her alive.
Kopetsky disappeared in May of 2007, only to be found dead nearly 10 years later in rural Cass County. Taking the stand during impact statements on the day of Kylr Yust’s sentencing, Beckford wiped away tears as he discussed the past 14 years and how it affected the family.
At one point, he recalled the last time he talked with his stepdaughter. He said the conversation was serious but also sweet.
“She smoked, and she would go outside and throw her cigarette butts, just flick them out there,” Beckford said. “She’d sit on the front steps and just flick them out there on the front yard or the sidewalk.”
He said he drove up to where she was working to talk with her during her shift at a fast food restaurant.
“Kara worked the drive-thru window, and she saw us pull up, and she came over with her, I always said she had a million-dollar smile, and she said, ‘What’s going on?’ I said, ‘I got something I want to talk to you about,’… She said, ‘Well what’s that, dad?'”
He told her that he wanted to talk about the cigarette butts in the yard.
“Her face lit up,” Beckford said, remembering. “She said, ‘I knew you were going to say something to me about that!'”
He said he wasn’t mad. The conversation was brief, and he offered to get her a can with some sand in it. They then chatted about a few other things before he left.
“Leaning out that window like she was… the one thing she liked about the Popeye’s uniform, it was purple,” Beckford said. “I just remember the radiance of the smile and the eyes. She handed me a large Coke with light ice out the window and away we went.
“That was the last of life as we knew it.”
Yust was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter for the death of Kopetsky, whose remains were discovered by a mushroom hunter in the woods of rural Cass County. He was also found guilty of second-degree murder for the death of Jessica Runions, who disappeared in 2016.