A former girlfriend of Kylr Yust, who is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in Cass County, testified Wednesday that Yust violently attacked her in 2011 and confessed that he had “killed ex-girlfriends” before.
Candice St. Clair, who previously lived with Yust, said he choked her to the point she lost consciousness when he found her packing her bags to leave. That’s when, she testified, he said he killed past girlfriends “out of sheer jealousy.”
Her testimony came on the third day of Yust’s trial. Now 32, Yust is charged in the deaths of 17-year-old Kara Kopetsky and 21-year-old Jessica Runions. Kopetsky was reported missing in 2007, and Runions was last seen alive in 2016.
Their disappearances remained mysteries in the Kansas City area until a mushroom hunter found their remains in 2017 in a wooded area south of Belton.
St. Clair also testified that Yust told her he had collected missing person’s signs of Kopetsky and put them in her parents’ yard. Yust said “something bad” had happened to Kopetsky, and that he dragged her body through the woods, St. Clair testified.
The former girlfriend — who described her relationship with Yust as an “emotional roller coaster” — said she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the attack in the bedroom of Yust’s Kansas City apartment.
“He told me that I was not allowed to leave,” St. Clair testified.
Yust’s defense attorneys tried to sow doubt about St. Clair’s testimony, questioning her about why she did not go to tell the police after the alleged assault and why she did not originally tell investigators about Yust’s purported comments about Kopetsky. She said she did not initially go to the police because she was scared.
Between 2010 and 2012, police spoke to at least four people who said Yust confessed to killing Kopetsky, according to charging documents.
One of Yust’s former friends, Nick Yeates, testified Wednesday that Yust said “he had killed her.” Yust said he and Kopetsky had problems and that she wouldn’t love him, according to Yeates.
Also on Wednesday, another one of Yust’s former girlfriends, Katelyn Farris, testified she wore a wire at the request of the FBI while hanging out with Yust in 2011.
Some of the hours-long recording that the device captured was played for the jury. In it, Yust at times berated Farris and appeared to reference his ex-girlfriend’s “death spot.” He seemed to say she was the only person who knew about the “Kara thing.”
Jurors were also shown footage from a camera set up in a car Farris drove that day with Yust in the passenger’s seat.
Human remains were discovered on April 3, 2017, in the area of Y Highway and 233rd Street in Cass County. During a more extensive search of the area, a second set was found the next day. They were identified as Runions and Kopetsky.
Since then, Yust’s defense team has raised questions about the the integrity of the investigation. His attorney, Sharon Turlington, said this week that Yust is innocent. No physical evidence connected him to the murders, she said.
Yust’s trial is expected to last three weeks.