Kara Kopetsky was a typical fun-loving teenager with a contagious smile that made people gravitate to her. The high school student loved music and animals, and her friends and family were the centre of her world. But life took a dramatic turn for the 17-year-old from Belton, Missouri, in 2006 when she met Kylr Yust, who caused her nothing but problems.
While Kara was laid-back and friendly Yust, 18, was intense and had a temper. They dated for nine months before they broke up in April 2007 – and then things started to turn nasty.
Kara went to the police and reported that she had been leaving her part-time job at a fast-food restaurant when Yust forced her into his car after she refused to hang out with him. She claimed he’d driven her around before finally letting her go, saying in her statement, “I’m unsure what he will do next because the abuse had gotten worse over time.”
Kara applied for a protection order, which was served to Yust on 1 May.
On 4 May, just after 9am, security cameras captured Kara unexpectedly leaving Belton High School. That night, she didn’t show up for work and she didn’t return to the family home.
Her worried mum reported her missing and a search got underway.
When questioned, Yust said he’d spoken to Kara on the phone but he didn’t know where she was. Phone records showed she and Yust had both called each other just before she left the school that morning.
A mutual friend of the estranged couple told police that Yust had admitted he’d seen Kara in person but told them not to tell anyone as he had violated the protection order.
Yust denied having anything to do with Kara vanishing, but her family and the police weren’t so sure. But there were simply no leads to go on and no evidence to connect him with her disappearance.
Kara’s belongings, including her bank card, were found in her locker at the school as though she would return to collect them – but she never did. Weeks turned into months, and then years.
Kara’s family were convinced that Yust was to blame for her disappearance, and his behaviour only fuelled their suspicions.
Over the years, many of Yust’s girlfriends told the police he was jealous, erratic and violent. He made threats and even choked a former partner, which resulted in him being placed on probation.
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