Hundreds of people gathered Saturday to honor the life of Jessica Runions, a Raymore woman whose remains were found earlier this month after a seven-month search.
Close to 300 people attended the event at International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 124 in south Kansas City.
Runions, 21, disappeared after leaving a gathering Sept. 8 in south Kansas City with Kylr Yust.
Three days after Runions disappeared, Yust, 28, was arrested and charged with burning her 2012 black Chevrolet Equinox, which authorities found in the early morning hours of Sept. 10.
He is not charged in the disappearance of Runions.
A mushroom hunter found human bones April 3 in rural Cass County later identified as Runions. Her death is being investigated by Kansas City police as a homicide.
A second set of bones found a day later have yet to be identified.
After more than a dozen people spoke in remembrance of Jessica Runions, her mother, Jamie, thanked everyone who aided in the search.
“Throughout this whole thing, whether you were praying, helping search, or you just came out to pass out fliers, whatever you did, you are the reason why we all have strength,” Jamie Runions said. “I just want to say thank you. Without you guys we wouldn’t be as strong as we are.”
The celebration was organized by Jessica Runions’ 14-year-old sister, Megan. It featured teal and white balloons and a slide show with photos of Jessica with siblings, other family members and friends.
Megan was one of several people who recounted their fondest Runions memories.
“I miss her everyday,” Megan said. “She was my best friend.”
Family friend Amy Ayers said Runions death hit close to home. Ayers, 27, of Overland Park, met Jessica through Jamie Runions, who was Ayers’ nursing instructor at Avila University.
“You see this stuff all the time but you never really feel it in your heart where it actually happens to someone you know or actually care about,” Ayers said. “I just hurt for her family.”
Ayers said the celebration was a chance to began the healing process. Saturday’s turnout was not a surprise, she said.
“It just shows how much Jessica impacted people and how much people care about her and her family,” Ayers said.