Ex tried to avoid man arrested in new missing-woman case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man charged with burning a vehicle belonging to a 21-year-old Missouri woman who went missing last week was the subject of a 2007 protection order by his teenage girlfriend who hasn’t been seen since shortly after she accused him of kidnapping and abuse, according to court records.

Kylr Yust, 27, was arrested Sunday in Benton County, about 100 miles southeast of Kansas City, on charges of “knowingly burning” a vehicle belonging to Jessica Runions, who was last seen Thursday, according to police. Investigators haven’t said whether Yust, who is on parole in a drug case, knows the 21-year-old woman.

Yust faced no other charges Monday in Runions’ disappearance, and he remained jailed on a $50,000 cash-only bond. Police said it was unclear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

“We’re all praying every single minute,” Linda Runions said of her granddaughter, who worked in the restaurant of a senior living community in the Kansas City suburb of Raymore. “Just to hear that she’s OK.”

Court records obtained Monday by The Associated Press show that Yust’s ex-girlfriend, 17-year-old Kara Kopetsky, filed for a protection order on April 30, 2007. It alleged that Yust kidnapped and restrained her, choked her and threatened to cut her throat during their nine-month relationship.

“I’m unsure what he will do next, because the abuse has gotten worse over time,” the application read. It also alleged Yust stalked Kopetsky.

A judge granted the protection order request and scheduled a hearing for May 10, 2007 — but Kopetsky went missing six days before the court date. She was last seen at Belton High School in Belton, south of Kansas City, just blocks from her home. She left behind her debit card, and her checking account wasn’t touched.

Yust wasn’t charged in Kopetsky’s disappearance.

On Monday, Kopetsky’s mother, Rhonda Beckford, said her daughter’s relationship with Yust was “volatile.” She remembered him as manipulative and abusive.

“Kara was so young and vulnerable and, having such a young heart, she really felt like she loved him,” Beckford told the AP.

Runions was last seen leaving a party Thursday night, though police haven’t said where the party was held. Her mother reported her missing Friday. Runions’ car was discovered burned and abandoned the next day in south Kansas City.

Police are treating her disappearance as a suspicious missing person case. Mike Mansur, a spokesman for Jackson County’s prosecutor, declined to release any details, saying in an email that “the case is now under seal.”

Belton police Capt. Don Spears, an investigator in Kopetsky’s disappearance, told the AP on Monday that his department has been working with Kansas City police since Yust was arrested. Spears said Yust was “a person of interest” in the Kopetsky case, but he declined to elaborate.

Yust was sentenced in 2013 to three years and nine months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, after he pleaded guilty to a felony drug-trafficking count. On Sept. 2, he was ordered to spend a weekend in confinement for an unspecified probation violation.

Sedalia Democrat
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