Authorities in Missouri say the remains of one of two people found in a rural area this week have been identified as those of Jessica Runions, a 21-year-old woman who went missing in September.
The remains of the second person have not yet been identified, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office said. Runions, of Raymore, Missouri, was last seen leaving a party with a man on Sept. 8, and her burned out sport-utility vehicle was found near a Kansas City underpass two days later.
The identification by the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office comes after a mushroom hunter found human remains in a wooded area near Highway Y, south of Kansas City, on Monday and police found a human skull. Searchers found a second skull the next day, the sheriff’s office said.
Kansas City policearrested 28-year-old Kylr Yust on a warrant for burning the vehicle on Sept. 11, a day after the burned vehicle was found. He has not been charged in Runions' disappearance.
Runions' aunt has said Runions and Yust, who is a childhood friend of Runions' boyfriend, were seen leaving a party together the night she disappeared. She was last seen at 9:30 p.m. the night of Sept. 8 driving the SUV, police said.
Another woman, Kara Kopetsky, has been missing since 2007. NBC affiliate KHSB reported that Kopetsky is a former girlfriend of Yust’s.
Kansas City police notified Runions' family shortly after the identification was made, the sheriff's office said. Authorities also notified Kopetsky's family when the remains were found this week, the station reported, although only Runions' remains have been identified.
Yust has not been charged in connection with the disappearance of either missing woman.
The sheriff’s office said investigators will continue searching the area Thursday morning. Nearly 100 investigators are expected to be involved in the search, the sheriff's office said.