Experts weigh in on Kopetsky, Runions cases following Yust’s mur - KCTV5

Experts weigh in on Kopetsky, Runions cases following Yust’s murder charges

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Kylr Yust's latest mugshot from October 6, 2017. (Cass County Jail) Kylr Yust's latest mugshot from October 6, 2017. (Cass County Jail)
Jessica Runions, left, and Kara Kopetsky. (File) Jessica Runions, left, and Kara Kopetsky. (File)
CASS COUNTY, MO (KCTV) -

A former special agent who looked into Kara Kopetsky's case years ago is weighing in on why he thought murder charges were finally brought against Kylr Yust. 

"We had heard these rumors about people saying that Kylr had said he choked her, had something to do with her disappearance, so this information is not surprising, but it's a matter of when can you use it,” Retired FBI Special Agent Michael Tabman said. “Now is the time."

Tabman said he and a group of retired officers tried to find out what happened to Kopetsky after she went missing a little more than 10 years ago. 

"You think of a criminal investigation as a puzzle, every little thing is a piece to that puzzle,” Tabman said. “You keep putting it together until you have the fullest picture you can get and you don't have to have a full picture, but you want it as complete as possible beyond a reasonable doubt."

Jessica Runions went missing in September of 2016 after leaving a party with Yust. 

The remains of both women were discovered in the area of 233 and Y Highway in April the following year.

Tabman suspects that’s what got the ball rolling on the murder charges. 

Yust was arrested for setting Runions’ car on fire two days after she went missing and has been in jail since. 

On Thursday, the Cass County Prosecutor filed murder charges.

"We want to take what he says and then tie it to the evidence and that what's makes it so incriminating now,” Tabman said. “If we find any indication of strangulation, given these comments from these witnesses are reliable, that again, it's just going to make the evidence more reliable more credible."

Tabman said once the trial begins prosecutors will probably have other evidence that’s not included in their initial statement. 

"You only have to present sufficient probable cause to charge,” Tabman said. “You don't have to present all your evidence when filing for a statement."

Tabman said you want to put together as many pieces to the puzzle as you can, because there is no such thing as a slam dunk. 

On Friday, a day after the murder charges were filed in Cass County, the charges out of Jackson County for burning Runions' car were dropped.

Attorney and former prosecutor Paul Morrison said that's not uncommon.

"Basically, their detainer gets dropped so that that person can be transported to the county where the big case is,” Morrison explained.

Even though several witnesses came forward and said Yust told them he'd killed both women, Tabman said you can’t prove a murder without a body. 

"In these cases, then they're almost always circumstantial cases and they’re usually made by the strength of the association that that defendant had with these missing people,” Morrison said. “It sounds like they've got some of that."

This case isn't open and shut. 

Morrison said that, if it goes to trial, the prosecuting attorney still face some challenges. 

He said, "It's a lot more than, ‘Do you think this person did it?’ It's a lot more than, ‘Are you suspicious this person did it?’ It's a lot more than, ‘Well, I think this person probably did it.’ You got to be able to prove those allegations beyond a reasonable doubt and that's a pretty tough burden."

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