Vanished with Beth Holloway (2011): Season 1, Episode 6 - Kopetsky/Ross - full transcript

Set in Belton, MO and Chicago. Beth talks to the family of a teen who left for school one day, never to return home. The mystery deepens when investigators learn a missing persons report was filed days before her actual disappearance. The series also follows the story of a young man who vanished without a trace while on a school trip to Chicago.

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Narrator: A teenage girl
walks out of her high school

and vanishes.

-As a man, I want
my family restored.

And she is my family.

Narrator: The search uncovers
a string of bizarre clues.

-This girl knew
maybe something was

going to happen to Kara
before something actually did.

Narrator: Then, a young
man from the same small town

goes missing in the big city.

-A thousand kids were there.

Why did only 999 come home?

Narrator: Was he the
victim of a violent abduction

or a tragic accident?

-When he left the
conference, it really

just goes about a
thousand different directions

from there.

-And it's like part of
you dies every day.

Narrator: Beth holloway
goes on location

to help two Missouri
families uncover

the truth about their missing
teenagers... now on "Vanished."

-in 2005, I got
the call telling me

that my daughter
Natalie had vanished.

Every parent's worst
nightmare became my reality.

I asked the world to help me.

I found myself in an
unimaginable fight.

But my search for answers
gave me a new mission in life...

Bring the missing home
and criminals to justice.

Narrator: Belton,
Missouri... a quiet suburb

of Kansas City, one that's
always enjoyed the comfort

and security life in
the heartland provides.

And in 1996, belton's the place
Kara kopetsky and her mother

Rhonda call home.

Though Kara maintains
contact with her dad Mike,

Rhonda is now raising
Kara as a single mom.

-I really kind of
thought that it was just

going to be me and Kara
for the rest of our lives.

Narrator: But that
all changes when

a local man by the
name of Jim beckford

sweeps Rhonda off her feet.

-I had kind of
giving up on dating.

And I met Jim, and it was
like god sent him to me

and god sent me to him.

Narrator: Kara is slow to warm
up to her mom's new boyfriend.

But over time, Jim and Kara's
relationship starts to thaw.

-The more Rhonda and I
dated, the more that, you know,

Rhonda eventually
started integrating Kara

into our relationship.

And one of the things I
remember, when she came home,

she said, will I
have a daddy now?

It was kind of
good to hear that.

Narrator: By early
2006, Kara seems

to have blossomed into a
well-rounded and strong-willed


-How was Kara doing in school?

-Kara's grades were ok, but
she was smart and intelligent,

and just a growing
teen... you know,

trying to learn what
life was all about.

Narrator: But when
Kara falls for musician

and so-called school
band boy kylr yust,

the relationship quickly
consumes her life.

-Kara was very excited
about the relationship at first,

but as time went on, she started
having a little bit of problems

with it.

And they were off
and on for a while.

-The relationship
affected her in a lot of way.

Every time she
would get sad, she

would skip school or
not do her homework

or just get more distracted.

Narrator: By the spring
of 2007, Kara's grades

have begun to
plummet, and she now

runs the risk of
failing the 11th grade.

-It was never a
behavior problem.

She just was truant.

So we were working with
mom and stepdad quite a bit

to try to keep her in school.

Narrator: Despite her
problems at school,

Kara manages to hold
down a part-time job

at a local restaurant.

-A lot of teenagers
don't want to go to work.

They, you know,
have other things

that they would rather do.

Um, Kara wasn't like that.

She enjoyed having money.

Money equals freedom.

Narrator: Kara's
new-found financial freedom

has a profound effect on
her relationship with kylr yust.

After months of on
again, off again dating,

Kara decides to end the
relationship once and for all.

-She was deciding now
what elements and what

parts that she wants in her
life, and good choices for her.

-She was basically
maturing and turning

into a whole new
direction and looking

toward after-graduation
college life plans.

-We started seeing
more of her again.

She started calling and texting
us, wanting to hang out more.

Narrator: Everyone seems
pleased with Kara's turnaround,

except for kylar.

-The more she pulled away,
the more he tried to control her.

Narrator: The situation comes
to a head on April 28, 2007,

just as Kara is wrapping
up work for the night.

-Her ex-boyfriend came
around the corner of the building

and grabbed her.

He basically shoved her in
his truck and took off with her.

Narrator: According to
Kara's friends and family,

after 30 terrifying minutes,
kylr slows down just enough

for Kara to jump
out of his truck.

Once safely away
from kylr, Kara files

an order of
protection against him.

-So she was fairly
shaken by this.

-Kara was definitely
shaken by this.

Narrator: With the
order of protection

in place and with the
school year winding down,

Kara rededicates
herself to her school work.

But four days later, a
bizarre turn of events

changes the course
of Kara's life forever.

It starts when Jim
beckford arrives home

from work and notices
the house is eerily quiet.

-Kara hadn't been at home yet.

She gets out of school at 2:30.

Narrator: Normally Jim wouldn't
have given it a second thought.

But given the incident with
kylr less than a week earlier,

he immediately tries
Kara's cell phone.

Kara doesn't pick up.

-Knowing that Kara had
to be to work at 4 o'clock,

I told Rhonda... I
said, well, I'll just

drive up and see
if she's called in.

Narrator: When Jim
arrives at the restaurant,

Kara's fellow employees
inform him that, for the first time

ever, she has missed her shift.

-You knew instantly.

Your gut feeling was
something is terribly wrong.

-Kara would answer her phone.

Kara would have went to work.

We called the police
because we were alarmed.

Narrator: 30 minutes
later, belton police

arrive at Jim and
Rhonda's house.

A search of Kara's room reveals
that her cell phone and purse

are missing, but her
makeup and mp3 player

are still in her bedroom.

Investigators' next move is
to check school surveillance

footage, which clearly
shows Kara chatting

with a friend in the hall at
approximately 10:00 am.

Moments later, Kara walks
out of the view of the surveillance

camera and is never seen again.

-That is the last-known
footage of Kara.

Narrator: After speaking
with Kara's friend, who

appears briefly in
the surveillance video,

investigators pose
the theory that Kara

has simply skipped class again.

-There's no real
evidence of foul play.

We were kind of in that
spot where we were just,

you know, hitting all the bases.

-She was skipping
school, like normal.

It was just a
normal day for her.

Narrator: Investigators
also theorize

that Kara might have run away.

Her parents are positive
that's not the case.

-After the police
come, did you feel

as if you had to make them
understand the urgency,

and that you really
have a situation

that you feel that
Kara is in danger?

-Kara had plans.

She would not drop everything
in her life and disappear.

-So you two instantly knew...

-there was something
very wrong about this.

Narrator: Coming
up... Kara's family

prepares to file a missing
person's report, only

to discover that
it already exists.

-It just raises a
lot of questions.

Narrator: And
raises the possibility

that Kara's
disappearance is part

of a conspiracy hatched
by two of her classmates.

May 4, 2007.

Just days before the end of
her junior year, 17-year-old Kara

kopetsky walks past
a surveillance camera

in her high school in belton,
Missouri, and vanishes

without a trace.

On may 5, her parents,
Jim and Rhonda beckford,

prepare to file a
missing person's report.

But to their
astonishment, authorities

inform them that Kara has
already been reported missing.

-An officer showed
up at our door

and informed us that there had
been a walk-in missing persons

report made by a young girl
that had been to our house,


Narrator: The girl who filed
the report is a friend of both Kara

and Kara's
ex-boyfriend, kylar yust.

She claims Kara has
been missing for two days.

But during those two days,
Kara had gone to school and work,

and also spent time
with friends and family.

For Kara's parents, this
raises a huge red flag,

and they must entertain two
equally disturbing theories...

Either the friend knew
something bad was going

to happen to Kara
before she vanished,

or multiple people were
involved in her disappearance.

-It's just very puzzling.

It just raises a
lot of questions.

You know, it makes me
wonder if, uh, this girl possibly

knew maybe something
was going to happen

to Kara before
something actually did.

Narrator: Investigators
question Kara's friend

about her relationship
with Kara and kylar yust.

They also press her for details
about why she filed a missing

person's report before
Kara ever disappeared.

But it soon becomes
clear that Kara's friend

filed the report out
of genuine concern.

-She hadn't seen Kara in a
few days and hadn't been able

get a hold of her, so she
thought that was unusual,

and she was worried.

Narrator: Given Kara's recent
encounter with kylar yust,

investigators feel Kara's friend
has every right to be worried.

And while Kara's disappearance
may be no conspiracy,

her parents are increasingly
convinced kylar yust

is to blame.

-With this situation that has
occurred with kylar a few days

before the abduction, did
you have an initial gut reaction

or feeling that this could
be playing out again?

-I really didn't
feel that there was

any other persons
of interest, really.

Narrator: But when kylar
is brought in for questioning,

he tells police he had no
idea Kara was even missing.

Police ask kylar to give
them a detailed account

of his whereabouts
the day Kara finished.

Kylar informs them he was
with his grandfather at the time.

-He maintained
and police confirmed

that he had an alibi at the
time of Kara's disappearance.

And he passed
a lie detector test.

Narrator: The polygraph
coupled with his seemingly airtight

alibi appear to
exonerate kylar yust.

With no other leads,
police turn their attention

to Kara's family.

Mom Rhonda and stepdad
Jim are questioned and cleared,

as is Kara's biological
father, Michael kopetsky.

With the clock ticking
and no official suspects,

Kara's parents are
beginning to panic.

-It's sheer hell.

It's a nightmare.

It's like being in
the eye of hurricane.

It's like everything else
is going on around you,

and you feel like
you're in limbo.

Narrator: And thought
friends, family, and investigators

are all working around the
clock to find her, four weeks later,

there is still no sign of Kara.

-In these type
of investigations,

you have to keep an open
mind of the various things that

can happen.

And yes, there can be
runaways, but also there

could be an actual
abduction that occurred.

Narrator: But events unfolding
in nearby overland park,

Kansas are about
to drastically alter

the course of the investigation.

It starts when an
18-year-old high school

senior named Kelsey
Smith vanishes.

-Kelsey went on an
errand and was, uh,

abducted out of a parking lot.

Narrator: Though Kelsey Smith
and Kara kopetsky have never

met, the similarities
between the two girls

are hard to ignore.

-Young woman about the
same height, about the same age,

about the same weight, about
the same time as Kara disappeared.

Immediately when Kelsey
Smith turned up missing,

I thought Kara kopetsky.

-Did you think for a moment that
Kelsey and Kara's disappearance

could be connected?

-We're faced with
another what if.

What if this person who had
abducted Kelsey had somehow saw

Kara walking from the school?

Narrator: Four
days later, police

discover the body of a young
woman in a nearby recreation


They're convinced it
is either Kelsey or Kara,

and they immediately notify
both families of the discovery.

But it will be 24 hours
before the cops can formally

ID the body.

-Those were probably the
longest 24 plus hours of my life.

Your stomach
starts to turn, and you

think you're going to lose
it and going to start crying.

And you just try
to hold it together.

Narrator: When the body
is identified, it's not Kara.

It's Kelsey Smith.

-It had to just stop your heart.

-And as a parent,
when you find out it's

not your child or the
person in your house,

there's no feelings
of happiness.

It just goes on.

Narrator: No sooner have Jim
and Rhonda offered Kelsey Smith's

parents their
heartfelt condolences

than police arrest a suspect
for Kelsey's murder... 26-year-old

Edwin hall.

Once in custody, hall confesses
to murdering Kelsey Smith,

but claims he had nothing to
do with Kara's disappearance.

And a thorough inquiry
into hall's whereabouts

places him far away from
belton high school at the time Kara


-We were trying
to see if there were

any connections between
either of the two girls

or the suspect in
their case, in our case,

and we were able to find
no connection whatsoever.

Narrator: Edwin
hall is ultimately

convicted for the
kidnapping, rape,

and murder of Kelsey Smith.

Meanwhile, the trail for Kara
kopetsky is growing colder.

-As a mother, you hold
on to a thin shred of hope.

And that's what you chew up
and keeps you moving every day...

That your daughter is
out there alive somewhere.

Narrator: Coming up...
A gruesome discovery

will breathe new life
into the investigation

and bring family
members face-to-face

with their worst fears.

-You hear whispering...
They found Kara.

Did you hear they found Kara?

Narrator: And later, another
of belton's best and brightest

disappears in the
streets of Chicago.

-It just kind of
puts you in shock.

This can't be real.

He'll show up.

Narrator: It's been nearly five
months since Kara kopetsky

vanished from the quiet
town of belton, Missouri.

As legitimately leads
begin to taper off,

Kara's parents worry that
the memory of their daughter

has begun to fade among
the people of belton.

-We decided that
we were not going

to let Kara's presence not
be noticed or remembered.

Narrator: October, 2007.

The beckfords decide
to remind their hometown

that Kara is still missing.

-It would have been Kara's
senior year homecoming.

We decided that
we were going to put

a float in the
homecoming parade.

Narrator: Just as the
parade is getting underway,

the beckfords are blindsided
with some gut-wrenching news.

-The captain from the
belton police department

came and informed
us that a body had

been found in belton
just off 71 highway.

-When you're hearing this
news of a set of remains

found, did you
think, this time is it.

It's Kara.

-I started to get really
emotional at first,

and I kind of said to
myself, don't overreact.

We don't know for
sure yet that it's Kara.

Narrator: But
identifying the body

will require time and
some vital information.

-He asked me if I could go
and get Kara's dental records.

-When you're
waiting on the results,

it has to seem like
years are passing,

and it may only be
a couple of days.

-It was over 24 hours before
we actually got the news back

from the dental records.

So I just kept my
feelings in check

and kept my emotions in
check until we heard something.

-I have been with
that family as they've

gone through this
ordeal, and it's grueling.

It's grueling to watch
what they're going through.

You wait hour by hour by
hour as police determine

if not the identity of the body,
at least enough information

that it's not Kara.

Narrator: Finally Jim
and Rhonda get the call.

The body is not Kara's.

-It ended up being
a murder victim out

of, actually, Kansas City.

And then they had just
basically brought her out

to belton to dump her body.

-So many times,
the family, they've

been given these
moments of hope,

only an hour later or
two hours later for that

hope to just collapse upon them.

Narrator: And as the
months turn into years,

investigators begin
to wonder if they'll ever

unravel the mystery surrounding
Kara kopetsky's disappearance.

-It's something where somebody
reports that they saw somebody

who looked like Kara working
in a gas station in St. Louis,

we'll call the St. Louis
police department

and have them go
check that gas station.

More often than not,
it's just somebody

that resembles
Kara to some extent.

-I don't know what
happened to Kara,

but I don't think it's good.

But I still have hope
that she's out there.

I want her back.

-Do you still have
hope that one day you

will see the answers
that you have

been so desperately seeking?

-That's all you can
do, is hope and pray.

And you hope that every
day brings the answers

that you're looking for.

-I feel that that person out
there who knows something

is watching.

And I want them to know
that we're not going away.

-Until we find her,
she's returned,

or I retired somebody else
moves in and takes over,

it's going to be
open until we solve it.

Narrator: Kara kopetsky was
last seen in belton, Missouri,

in may of 2007.

She is five foot,
five inches tall,

with Hazel eyes and a
small scar on her forehead.

Today she would be 21 years old.

If you have information about
the disappearance of Kara

kopetsky, please go to
mylifetime. Com/vanished

and click on the tips button.

Coming up... Kara
kopetsky's disappearance

isn't the only one that
haunts the town of belton.

The year is 2006, and Jesse
Ross is a college sophomore

with world-class potential.

-He just had so many
things going for him.

-He had a big future.

Narrator: Until one night,
on a class trip to Chicago,

Jesse disappears.

-A thousand kids were there.

Why did only 999 come home?

-There are just too many
questions that aren't answered.

It's really, really disturbing.

Narrator: Beth holloway
reopens the case of another belton

teenager to help
his family find out

what really
happened to their son.

-When Kara kopetsky
vanished, the entire community

joined her family in
their search for answers.

But what if those answers
were 500 miles away from home

in one of america's
largest cities?

For another
Missouri family, that's

exactly where their
nightmare began.

Narrator: Like Kara
kopetsky, Jesse Ross

calls belton, Missouri home.

Intelligent, athletic,
and quick-witted,

in the fall of 2005,
Jesse enrolls

in the university of
Missouri and begins

to build a bright future.

-What were some of
Jesse's goals and dreams?

-His major was communications,
his minor was politics.

And I think he
wanted to interweave

those two into
some type of career.

-He loved life, and he loved
people, and he had a big heart.

Narrator: By his
sophomore year, Jesse

has begun to dabble in
music recording and PR.

He's also landed an internship
at a local radio station,

working on air with
local dj, Chantal savage.

-We called him opie on the
radio because he had red hair

and he reminded
us a lot of, um, opie

from "The Andy
Griffith show."


Opie, what do you
think about that?

The city fell in love with him.

They loved
everything about him...

His humor, his
conversations with us.

He was just a very
lovable character.

Narrator: In addition
to his on-air gig at 95.7,

Jesse balances a full
course load at school

and has become an active
member in the university's model UN


Every fall, model UN delegates
from across the country

gather in Chicago for
a three-day conference.

The trip has become the
highlight of Jesse's year.

-He didn't like to stay
in one place for too long.

He liked getting out
and meeting new people.

He liked going to new
places and exploring.

He'd been real excited
about going up there.

Narrator: On November
18, Jesse waves

goodbye to his father,
Donald, and sets off

for the windy city.

-I dropped him off
here at the university.

And you feel like, you know,
you'll see him in four days.

So it's not a big deal.

Narrator: Over
the next two days,

the majority of Jesse's time
is spent debating world issues

at the Sheraton towers
hotel in downtown Chicago.

But Jesse has more
than just meetings in mind.

Every night, he
sets out into the city.

-He just was going to visit
some of the local bars and clubs

and things.

He liked going to new
places and exploring.

Narrator: On the afternoon
of Monday, November 20,

Jesse calls home to check in.

-They were going
to leave the next day.

He wasn't quite sure what time.

But he said, I'll call you
when we get on the road.

Narrator: But the following
morning, Jesse doesn't call.

-Did you have any feelings
of apprehension at all?

Narrator: I mean,
this is his second year.

It's a college-sponsored event.

Why should we have any doubts?

Narrator: What the
rosses don't know

is that very real concerns
about Jesse are mounting.

Prior to departing, faculty
chaperone Derek moorhead

does a head count
and is one student short.

Jesse's fellow students began
frantically searching for him.

I pulled our
students and said, ok.

Model UN's over.

We need to find our student.

So what I need you guys
to do is quit the exercises

and start working the rooms
for people who knew Jesse.

-By 2:00 pm, there's
still no sign of Jesse.

Derek moorhead
is starting to panic.

He decides to call
on Jesse's parents.

-All I could do to think of what
to say was just say, Mr. Ross,

I can't find your son.

-Tell us about getting
that call that Jesse

was missing in Chicago.

-I picked the
phone up, and it was

one of the sponsors
from Chicago.

They called me.

They advised me that,
uh, they weren't sure

where Jesse was,
that he hadn't shown up

when it was time to leave.

I believe at that time
they said they had people

out looking for him and
that they would get back

to me as soon as
they knew something.

Narrator: But as
the hours tick by,

there's still no sign of Jesse.

As his classmates
set off for home,

Derek moorhead stays
behind to continue the search

and to enlist the
help of the police.

-The Chicago police
department was

notified at 4:00 pm,
when Mr. Moorhead came

into the 18th district police
station and filed a report...

A missing report.

-When the news that
Jesse was missing

was becoming a reality to
you, that had to just be crushing.

-That's like a parent's
worst nightmare.

It just is.

The love you have for a
child... my love for my boys...

Is so strong and emotional,
it's... it's really scary.

Narrator: As the
rosses try and absorb

the impact of what's
happening in Chicago,

Derek moorhead
is walking detectives

through Jesse's
last-known steps.

The last night
before the conference

ends, which is Monday night,
the organization sponsors a social.

-There was drinking
going on in various rooms,

but no parties I would
say... no fraternity parties,

no crazy drinking.

More of a social drinking.

Narrator: Between
10:00 pm and 1:00 pm,

Jesse is seen in
the Sheraton towers

sipping a cocktail
disguised as a sports drink.

-I know that Jesse was
part of the security council,

and they were going to
have a mock gathering later

in the evening that he
was going to have to go to.

Narrator: After
stopping by his room

at the nearby
Sheraton four points,

Jesse walks the
seven blocks back

to the conference to attend
his meeting at 2:30 am.

At 3:00 am, the meeting
adjourns for a 30-minute break.

Jesse exists the
conference room, presumably

to use the restroom
or grab a quick drink.

But Jesse never returns.

-What was the last time
that Jesse was seen?

-Jesse got up from his chair,
walked to the back of the room

and through these double doors.

Officially that's the
last time anyone

has seen anything of him.

Narrator: What in the world
has happened to Jesse?


14 hours into his disappearance,
Chicago investigators

are scrambling to find out.

-There were 1,200
students at this convention,

staying at three
different hotels.

And maybe he met
somebody and, uh,

went over to one
of their hotels.

Narrator: But room-to-room
inspections at all three hotels

come up empty.

Desperate for a lead,
police turn their focus

to hotel surveillance
footage and get a hit.

A camera in the
hotel lobby captures

Jesse stepping into the elevator
at the Sheraton four points.

-What is I assume
is he's getting

ready to walk over to
the Sheraton towers.

Narrator: But the time
stamp on the video

reads 1:00 am... long before
Jesse's fellow conference-goers

saw him leave the
meeting at 3:00 am.

A thorough review of
the other security cameras

reveals no trace of Jesse.

-Did he have a
cell phone on him?


His cell phone was active
until maybe 10 minutes

after he left the,
uh, meeting room.

Did they ever have any
pings from his cell phone

at any towers?

-The last time they
could document

was that 10-minute timeframe.

At that point, his
phone went dead.

Narrator: One explanation
for the dead phones

may lie in Jesse's
commute to the conference.

The 10-minute walk
to and from his hotel

runs along the sheer
banks of the Chicago river,

and over a heavily
trafficked bridge known to ice

over during the
bitter Chicago winter.

Investigators believe Jesse's
phone might have wound up

in the water, along
with Jesse himself.

-They explained to
us that there were often

occurrences of people
being found in the river...

People going out and
drinking and just falling

over the rails.

Narrator: Polie know the
19-year-old had been drinking,

but his fellow
delegates are almost

positive Jesse wasn't drunk.

-Nobody at the united
nations conference,

including his friends, the
people in his security council,

and everyone else could
corroborate that story

that he was drunk, because
no one saw him in that condition.

Narrator: Police aren't so sure.

And as day one of the search
for Jesse draws to a close,

they turn their
attention to the river.

-Immediately the
uniformed officers

went searching for him along
the lakefront and the river.

We had the Chicago fire
department search and air

rescue helicopter along with
the us coast guard helicopters.

Narrator: With water
temperatures hovering

at a frigid 36 degrees,
Chicago's finest

believed that if Jesse
did fall in, odds are he

died of hypothermia.

But after a week
of searching, they

found no trace of Jesse's body.

-A thousand kids were there.

Why did only 999 come home?

It makes no sense.

Where did Jesse turn
left instead of right?

What did Jesse do different
than these other kids?

Narrator: Police have urged
the rosses is to remain in balance

and until the preliminary
investigation is complete.

But we can do their
son's disappearance

the rosses decide to
take the search for Jesse

into their own hands, and make
plans to drive up to Chicago.

But just as they are
preparing to leave,

a violent blizzard tears
through the midwest,

severing all routes to the city.

-It's a parent's
worst nightmare.

It really is.

I mean, we're down
here, he's up there.

-We just felt isolated.

It's like having
all of the answers

or having all the things you
wanted to know so far away.

Narrator: But the Ross family's
darkest hours are yet to come.

-The police called and said
that they had discovered a body.

Narrator: It's been one
week since 19-year-old Jesse

Ross vanished in
downtown Chicago.

Police have traced his
last-known whereabouts

to a 3:00 am meeting at
the Sheraton towers hotel.

But they have no clue what
happened to Jesse after that.

Police have turned their
search to the frigid Chicago river.

500 miles away,
in belton, Missouri,

Jesse's parents are
desperate to get to Chicago

and find their son.

But a fierce blizzard is
preventing travel to the city.

-That had to just be
crushing that you couldn't

get to Chicago due
to the snow storm.

-That's like a parent's
worst nightmare.

The police were doing
everything they could.

They were searching and they
had cadaver dogs and sonar

and divers and the coast
guard and helicopters.

They searched and searched
and came up with nothing.

Narrator: Finally, on
December 8, the blizzard lets up.

That evening, Donald Ross
and Jesse's brother, Andy,

head out for Chicago.

-We had a pretty full agenda.

We were meeting with some of
the local news outlets up there

and doing interviews and press
conferences... things like that.

Narrator: The moment that
Don and Andy land in the city,

they receive a
harrowing phone call.

-The police called and said
that they had discovered a body.

Narrator: The remains
of a Caucasian male

have been recovered from
the river near the Sheraton hotel.

For 15 pulse-pounding
minutes, the rosses

wait for police to make an ID.

Finally, they get word.

-They called and said that
it was another individual,

and he had actually
had a suicide note.

Narrator: The rosses are
relieved the body isn't Jesse,

but they are no closer
to finding their son.

Desperate for answers,
the rosses take to the streets.

-This is my son Jesse.

He's missing up here.
- I appreciate it.

It's got all his
information on there.

Narrator: But after
two days in the city,

Andy and Don return home
without any new information

about Jesse.

-I was pretty confident...
Oh, he'll turn up.

We'll hear something from him.

And then as more
time passed after that,

it just started to dawn
on me that maybe we

weren't going to hear
anything from him...

Something... that maybe
something bad really had happened.

-We'd heard Donna Ross
once say in an interview she feels

like an alien came
down and took her child.

And it's... her comment resonates
with me because it really was

that's surreal.

Narrator: Police
still believe the Jesse

Ross fell into
the Chicago river.

For Jesse's family, the
more time that passes,

the less viable that
theory seems to be.

-Any bodies that
go into that river

will wash to a certain point.

And then within a few
weeks, those bodies turn up.

They've had plenty,
but they've never

had the one that
we're hoping not to see.

Narrator: With no body
and no evidence of a crime,

some have suggested
the possibility

that Jesse does
not want to be found.

-Was there anything
about Jesse's personality

that would lead
you to think that he

might just want to go away?

-The radio station
was going to make

him a paid employee on the air.

He was so excited, and had
all his friends to come back to,

and... no.

What child would walk
away from all of that?

Narrator: Could someone's
have abducted or even murdered


If so, why?

-There's just too
many things about it

that are hazy and unclear.

And, just, there's too many
questions that aren't answered.

You get to thinking
about it, and just all the...

The possibilities of things
that could happen to him.

It's really disturbing.

Narrator: Four years go by,
and the whereabouts of Jesse

remain a mystery.

Then, in December, 2010,
Jesse's friend and fellow delegate,

Megan heimer, steps
forward with one last clue...

A cd she believes Jesse had on
him at the time he disappeared,

which, according to
Megan, contained music

by the local band
Jesse was managing.

It's something I Megan
believes investigators overlooked

but could hold the key
to Jesse's disappearance.

-We had a mixed
cd, and he had a flyer.

And it was like a
neon yellow flyer

about this rave or
some party that I

think a dj was going to be at
and he wanted to take this cd.

-He had some recorded music
that he had been involved with,

and he was interested
in presenting this

to individuals that
might be there.

Narrator: Both
Megan and the rosses

believe that if
police can pinpoint

the origin of
the yellow flyer it

will draw them one step
closer to finding Jesse.

There's just one problem.

-I asked, you know,
several people

if they had found the flyer
in his room about the rave,

and a lot of his stuff
had gotten thrown away.

No one probably thought
it was of any value,

but he did mention going.

Narrator: Could the young dj
have ditched the conference

to explore Chicago's
music scene?

And if so, what, or who,
kept him from coming home?

In the end, investigators
are unable to determine

the rave's location
or its promoter.

And the band who
Jesse helped promote

has no knowledge of him
planning to meet with anyone

in the windy city
about their record.

Ultimately, Megan heimer's
tip raises more questions

than answers.

-Could he have been lured?

Uh, was he trusting?

Was he innocent?


He was all those things.

So it's possible.

Narrator: Though the theories
of what happened to Jesse

have multiplied over the years,
only one concrete fact remains.

-He left the conference.

He left the building.

I mean, it really just
goes about a thousand

different directions from there.

Narrator: It's been more than
four years since Jesse Ross

vanished, but his
family remains committed

to uncovering the truth
about his disappearance.

And like Kara
kopetsky's family, they're

doing everything they
can to preserve their son's

memory in his
hometown of belton.

-Each year we have an
annual event on November 21,

or close to it... the
day he disappeared

it's called opie fest.

It's just food, music, memories.

And the band that Jesse
managed, they come to opie fest

and we raise some funds
and some awareness for Jesse.

-That's a beautiful
way to remind

people of the person, the faces,
and the names of the loved ones

that are still missing.

Hopefully someone
will see something

or have known something...


And contact law enforcement.

-We know we'll see Jesse again.

I know I will.

I wish he'd come in
that door right now,

but it may be a while.

It's like a sore
that will not heal.

The pain and anguish...
It's devastating,

and it's like, part of
you dies every day.

-He was like one
of my best friends.

So it's... not having
him here, it's just...

Like somebody taking
a limb or something.

Something really vital to you.

And it's just gone.

Narrator: Jesse's
family remains convinced

that in a city of
3 million people,

somebody has information
about what happened to their son.

The rosses are not alone.

There are thousands
of families hoping

that someone will come
forward with information that

will bring the missing home
and criminals to justice.

Because someone out
there knows something.

Narrator: Jesse Ross was
last seen in downtown Chicago

in November, 2006.

He is five feet, 10 inches tall
with red hair and blue eyes.

Today, he would be 24 years old.

The Ross family
is offering $10,000

for information leading
to Jesse's safe return.

If you have information
about the missing people seen

tonight, please go to
mylifetime. Com/vanished

and click on the tips button.

-Don and Donna, tell
us a little bit about Jesse

and some of his
favorite activities.

-Probably the most
prominent thing

is his seeming to join
just about everything

that came along.

He just couldn't seem to
get into enough activities

and a hard guy to keep up with.

-Jim and Rhonda, you were
right on target from day one.

Someone knows something, and
one day, someone will say it to you

and lead you to where Kara is.

-Well, people don't
vanish into thin air,

and we know that someone,
somewhere knows something,

and that person needs to step
forward and say what they know

to bring our daughter home and
make our family complete again.