Families of missing Missouri women alerted after human skulls found

CASS COUNTY, Mo. — Authorities are investigating whether a pair of skulls found this week in rural Missouri are key to two outstanding missing-persons cases, including one that’s a decade old, Cass County sheriff’s deputies said.

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A mushroom hunter called authorities Monday afternoon after finding what authorities determined were human bones. Among the remains was a skull that investigators sent to the Jackson County Medical Examiner for identification.

A second human skull was found in the area Tuesday morning, deputies said.

As authorities investigated, Belton police called the mother of Kara Kopetsky, a Belton woman who was a teenager when she was last seen in May 2007, the Kansas City Star reported. Rhonda Beckford told the newspaper she met with police along with Jamie Runions, the mother of missing Raymore woman Jessica Runions.

“They told us that we may have answers,” Beckford told the Star.

Authorities said Tuesday that they had yet to identify the remains.

“Based on the remains recovered, the age, sex (and) race have not been determined,” police said in a news release. “Although families of missing person cases in the area have been in contact with law enforcement we cannot confirm the identity of victims.”

Kopetsky vanished a week after filing for a protection order against her boyfriend, Kylr Yust, KCTV reported. Authorities arrested Yust in September 2016 on suspicion of knowingly burning Runions' vehicle, the news site reported.

He has not been charged in Kopetsky’s disappearance.

Family members told KCTV that Jessica Runions was last seen by friends in September at a party in Kansas City. The party’s host told Runions’ family that she left with Yust, according to the news station.

“The waiting is the hardest part,” Beckford told The Star. “I’m hopeful, but I’m not trying to get my hopes up because we’ve been here before.

“Of course we know even if it’s not Kara, it’s someone’s loved one and someone has answers. Good or bad, someone has answers.”

Authorities from multiple agencies, including the FBI, are investigating, WDAF-TV reported.