A girl abducted by her mother six years ago has been found safe in North Carolina after a store owner recognized her from watching her story on the Netflix show “Unsolved Mysteries.”
On Monday, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) reported that Kayla Unbehaun, who had been missing from Illinois since 2017 and was featured on the reboot of the Netflix show, was located in Asheville. The store owner of Plato’s Closet in Asheville contacted police Saturday after spotting her near a shopping center.
Heather E. Unbehaun, 40, was arrested on May 13 on Westgate Parkway. Police confirmed that Unbehaun is Kayla’s mother.
In the summer of 2017, Kayla, who was 9 years old at the time, disappeared during a camping trip after Unbehaun allegedly abducted her from South Elgin, Illinois.
The incident came to light the day after the Fourth of July that year when Kayla’s father, Ryan Iserka, went to Unbehaun’s home in Wheaton to pick up his daughter. Kayla wasn’t there, and her mother had also disappeared, despite Iserka having full custody of Kayla at that time.
“Her arrangement was to have every other weekend with my daughter,” Iskerka previously said. “She had her that weekend before Fourth of July and Fourth of July, I think, fell on a Tuesday. And that was also her holiday, so I just told her, ‘Why don’t we take an extended, you know, keep her Monday through Tuesday, and I’ll just pick her up Wednesday?'”
BREAKING NEWS ‼️
NCMEC is excited to share that Kayla Unbehaun has been FOUND SAFE in North Carolina!
Kayla was only 9 years old when she was abducted by her non-custodial mother, Heather Unbehaun from South Elgin, Illinois on July 5, 2017. Kayla’s dad, Ryan asked NCMEC to… pic.twitter.com/5O7bpEjIhT
— National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (@MissingKids) May 16, 2023
According to Iskerka’s statement to CBS News Chicago, he thanked the community and volunteers and everyone who assisted in finding his daughter, and is seeking privacy while he reconnects with his daughter.
“I’m overjoyed that Kayla is home safe. I want to thank the South Elgin Police Department, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and all of the law enforcement agencies who assisted with her case.
“I also want to thank all of the followers on the “Bring Kayla Home” Facebook page, who helped keep her story alive and were instrumental in spreading awareness. We ask for privacy as we get to know each other again and navigate this new beginning.
“We ask for privacy as we get to know each other again and navigate this new beginning.”
Heather Unbehaun is reportedly being held on a $250,000 bond while awaiting extradition.
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[Feature Photo: NCMEC]