An Illinois girl whose disappearance was featured on Netflix’s «Unsolved Mysteries» was found alive in North Carolina last week, six years after she was allegedly kidnapped by her mother.
Kayla Unbehaun, who turned 15 in January, was 9 years old when she disappeared in 2017 while in the care of her mother, Heather Unbehaun.
Unbehaun, 40, was arrested Saturday in Asheville, North Carolina, on a fugitive charge, according to an arrest report. She is expected to be extradited to Illinois.
A police spokesman said a woman at Plato’s Closet in Asheville recognized Unbehaun from «reported media» about the case and contacted authorities, according to nbc chicago. An employee who answered the phone at the store Tuesday declined to answer questions.
«I am delighted that Kayla is safe at home. I want to thank the South Elgin Police Department, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and all the law enforcement agencies that helped with her case,» said Kayla’s father, Ryan Iskerka. in a statement Monday through the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
“We ask for privacy as we get to know each other again and navigate this new beginning,” he said.
Kayla went missing around July 4, 2017. She was last seen in her mother’s care after a Fourth of July parade in Wheaton, Illinois, according to a GoFundMe page that Iskerka created days after Kayla’s disappearance. NCMEC said Heather Unbehaun was the noncustodial mother.
Iskerka said she was supposed to meet Heather Unbehaun on July 5, 2017, to pick up her daughter, but the couple never arrived. The exchange was ordered by a court, Iskerka wrote.
According to police interviews, Heather Unbehaun was last seen packing her belongings on the roof of her car. Family members indicated that she went camping to an unknown location in Wisconsin and was expected to return to join Iskerka, she wrote on GoFundMe.
When the mother and daughter failed to show up, police were contacted and a missing person report was filed for Kayla, according to GoFundMe.
The disappearance was one of several cases related to an alleged family kidnapping featured in an episode of the Netflix series «Unsolved Mysteries» in November 2022.
The Kane County State’s Attorney’s office issued a warrant for Heather Unbehaun’s arrest, NBC Chicago reported. It is not clear if she has obtained a lawyer.
Kayla was taken into the custody of the North Carolina Division of Social Services, according to the news station. She is expected to reunite with her family and be taken back to Illinois.
His family could not immediately be reached at the phone numbers listed for them.