Skull and bones identified as missing Kansas City woman; police launch murder investigation

Jessica Runion was last seen in September

Police have identified one set of remains found earlier this week as Jessica Runion, the 21-year-old Kansas City woman who disappeared in September, after leaving a party with the ex-boyfriend of another young woman who has been missing for ten years.

According to Fox 4 Kansas City, police are investigating Runion’s death as a homicide.

Two sets of human remains were found close together in Cass County earlier this week: On Monday, mushroom hunters in a remote area outside Belton, Missouri, found a partial skeleton. During a follow-up investigation, authorities found a second set of remains, including a skull, on Tuesday.

READ more: Skulls found together in rural Missouri may belong to teen girl, young woman who vanished almost 10 years apart

Authorities contacted the families of both Runion and Kara Kopetsky shortly after the discovery, bracing them for the possibility that the bodies would be identified as the missing women. Kopetsky disappeared in May 2007 when she was 17 years old. Before she vanished, she had tried to end a volatile on-again, off-again relationship with Kylr Yust, a man with a violent criminal history who is a person of interest in the disappearance of both women. Kopetsky filed an order of protection against him just a few days before she went missing.

Runion was last seen leaving a party with Yust in September; he is in currently in custody on charges of burning her car.

While Runion’s family processes the news that Jessica is deceased, Kopetsky’s family is still waiting for answers — and it may be a while before they get them.

“The police department came here and visited us, and told us that the other skull, there has not been able to be any positive identification made, it’s got to go to an outside lab because it was not a complete skull. The time-frame we were actually given was, it could take up to a year,” Kopetsky’s mother Rhonda Beckford told reporters.

We’ve been waiting for almost 10 years, and the waiting is the hardest part. And I’m just gonna come out and tell you right here and now, in my heart of hearts, I believe it’s Kara.

Because the second set of remains found are older, it could take significantly longer for investigators to identify them.

“Right now, we really don’t have a time frame of when we will have results on the other victim,” Capt. Kevin Tieman, of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office told the Kansas City Star.