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Missing Girl Featured on ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ Found Safe 6 Years Later

A missing Illinois girl whose abduction was featured on Netflix’s popular true crime series “Unsolved Mysteries” was found alive and safe in North Carolina after a stranger recognized her.

Kayla Unbehaun was 9 years old when her noncustodial mother, Heather Unbehaun, abducted her from South Elgin on July 5, 2017, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) said.

The incident occurred during a visit to her mother’s, who at the time, only had visitation rights. Police said Kayla’s father went to pick her up from her mother’s house in Wheaton on July 5 but she wasn’t there. Kayla’s mother, Heather Unbehaun, 35, had allegedly packed her car on July 4 and left with Kayla.

Heather has not had any contact with family since leaving with Kayla, and her phone and social media had been deactivated at the time of the disappearance.

“What’s most unusual is the ability to stay off the grid, if you will, for that period of time,” Asheville Police Lieutenant Jonathan Brown said. “Typically, we leave a technological bread crumb and those are usually very easy and quick to be tracked.”

On May 13, the now 15-year-old was shopping with her mother, Heather Unbehaun, at a Plato’s Closet in Asheville when a store employee recognized them and called police. Heather was arrested but has since been released after posting $250,000 bail, according to WLOS-TV. 

Her next court date is scheduled for July 11.

It has also been stated by police that Kayla Unbehaun has now been reunited with her father in Illinois and is in good condition.

“I’m overjoyed that Kayla is home safe,” her father, Ryan Iserka, said in a statement to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. “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.”


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