A body that searchers found in Kansas City woods Jan. 28 while looking for a missing Raymore woman ended up being that of a 19-year-old Merriam man missing for nearly two months, Kansas City police said Friday.
Relatives who reported Dante Jamal Jefferson missing in January told Merriam police they had not seen him since Dec. 5.
Friends and relatives of Jessica Runions discovered his body at 53rd Street and Brighton Avenue.
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His cause of death has not been released, but Kansas City police are investigating the death as a homicide. The condition of the remains made it difficult for the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office to immediately identify Jefferson, police said.
Investigators said Jefferson last was seen getting into a gray Chrysler near 18th Street and the Paseo.
It was unusual for Jefferson not to have contacted his mother, who filed the missing persons report, said Merriam Detective Laura Naegele. At the time of his disappearance, Jefferson was living with his mother in Merriam.
The Runions search group alerted police after finding Jefferson’s body about 6 to 8 feet from the road and down a small embankment.
“We kind of speculated that something wasn’t right or something had gone wrong,” Naegele said. “We were hoping that we would hear something, but unfortunately it was something negative that we heard in the end.”
Runions, a Raymore resident, last was 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.
On Monday, a mushroom hunter discovered human bones in rural Cass County that led to a further search. Ultimately, two skulls and other remains were found. One of set of remains belonged to Runions, police said. It could take up to a year to identify the second set of remains.
Kansas City police have not said how Runions died but are investigating her death as a homicide.
Kylr Yust, 28, who had been questioned about the disappearance of another young woman in 2007, has been charged with burning Runions’ vehicle. Yust had been the off-and-on boyfriend of Kara Kopetsky, then 17, before she disappeared almost 10 years ago.
On Thursday, investigators said they found “several pieces of evidence” in the same wooded area by a quarry near East 233rd Street and Missouri Y in Cass County, where the two sets of remains were found.