During a search for Jessica Runions, the missing woman’s father and another relative found a man’s decomposing body Saturday in a creek bed near East 67th Terrace and Lewis Avenue, Kansas City police and family said.
“I knew right off the bat when I saw the person that it wasn’t her,” said John Michael Runions, Jessica Runions’ father. He and his cousin went to the road and called authorities.
Officers arrived on the scene around 11 a.m. Saturday. The cause of death has not been determined, but police said they are investigating the discovery as a homicide.
Police on Monday identified the man as 21-year-old Brandon Herring, of Raytown. Herring had been reported missing in November.
Investigators are trying to determine how long the body had been there. There were several identifying marks on the man’s body, said Officer Darin Snapp, a police spokesman.
Runions said they found the body roughly 12 feet from the road, face up in the creek bed with debris on top of him.
About 15 people were out searching the area for Jessica Runions, of Raymore, who was last seen Sept. 8 leaving a gathering of friends in south Kansas City. The burned vehicle belonging to the 21-year-old was found two days later in a nearby wooded area. Kylr Yust, a man who had been questioned for the disappearance of another young woman in 2007, has been charged with burning the vehicle.
Yust, 27, had been the off-and-on boyfriend of Kara Kopetsky, then 17, before she disappeared nine years ago.
Family and friends search for Jessica Runions nearly every week. The only times they’ve missed is during recent bitter cold temperatures.
And they don’t plan on stopping — not until she’s found.
“We just feel like if we keep searching, we are doing something to help her, to find her,” said Linda Runions, her grandmother. “We just feel like that’s all we can do.”
Saturday’s discovery only reinforced what they are doing, John Michael Runions said.
“I told everybody that this should be motivation that what we are doing is good,” Runions said. “We may not have found Jessica, but somebody else’s family is going to get some answers.”