Following her claimed kidnapping by her non-custodial mother in Illinois, Kayla Unbehaun was the subject of a six-year search by family members with the assistance of the public.
She was located safely over 600 miles away in North Carolina, where she is now 15 years old, and has been reunited with her father in Illinois, according to Samantha Booth of the Asheville Police Department.
Kayla was 9 years old when her non-custodial mother, Heather Unbehaun, kidnapped her from the Illinois town of South Elgin, which is near Chicago, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
According to Ryan Iserka, Kayla’s father, Unbehaun was granted supervised visitation but was granted full custody of Kayla in early 2017. The pair never returned from their camping excursion, Iserka discovered when he went to pick up his daughter on July 5, WBBM reported the following year.
According to the non-profit agency that assists families in finding American children who are abducted by relatives, strangers, or run away, Unbehaun was given a felony kidnapping warrant on July 28, 2017. The FBI received close to 360,000 complaints of missing children in 2022, it reported, stressing that duplicates are possible.
CTV News confirms the news on their official Twitter account:
An Illinois girl vanished with her mother 6 years ago. Now a teen, she was just found in North Carolina https://t.co/brHuOrzkzG pic.twitter.com/qsSJyr4eH2
— CTV News (@CTVNews) May 16, 2023
Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries
Then, on Saturday night, Kayla was spotted in Asheville by a customer who recognized her from a parental kidnapping episode of Netflix’s “Unsolved Mysteries” series, according to Booth. According to Booth, the person informed a store employee, who subsequently dialed 911.
Unbehaun was detained on a $250,000 bail while being kept in custody for extradition, according to Buncombe County, North Carolina, Deputy Clerk Cory Alexander. She was given a court date on July 11 and no specific charges were listed, according to Alexander.
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Tuesday morning, Booth reported that she was released after bonding out.
Iserka expressed his relief at finding his daughter safe and sound in a statement released through the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, praising the group and law authorities for helping to publicize the hunt for her.
“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,” he said. “We ask for privacy as we get to know each other again and navigate this new beginning.”
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