A youngster kidnapped by her non-custodial mother in Illinois six years ago was safely recovered in North Carolina. On Saturday, Kayla Unbehaun was seen in Asheville. Kayla was allegedly identified by a store employee from an episode of Netflix’s “Unsolved Mysteries” series.
Unbehaun was kidnapped when she was nine years old. Thanks to a remarkable confluence of events, she was discovered safe. Unbehaun was last seen on July 4, 2017, according to South Elgin, Illinois, police.
NCMEC shares a tweet:
“I’m overjoyed that Kayla is home safe. I want to thank the South Elgin Police Department, NCMEC & all of the law enforcement agencies who assisted with her case…" Kayla’s dad, Ryan
— National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (@MissingKids) May 16, 2023
When her father, Ryan Iserka, went to pick her up from her mother’s residence, she wasn’t there even though he had been given full custody of her. Unbehaun and her mother went missing nine years ago.
Asheville Police Lieutenant Jonathan Brown stated, “What’s most unusual is the ability to stay off the grid, if you will, for that period.” “Typically, we leave a technological bread crumb and those are usually very easy and quick to be tracked.”
Last year, an episode of “Unsolved Mysteries” on Netflix that focused on parental kidnapping was broadcast. Amazingly, the episode’s primary focus wasn’t Unbehaun’s narrative. At the show’s end, her photo was merely a tiny fraction of a quick list of those still missing.
Unbehaun was noticed by a young employee at an Asheville mall who recognized her from the Netflix series. Callahan Walsh of the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children said, “The media is so important when it comes to the recovery of missing children.”
“Even in these long term cases, the more we tell the story of these missing children and put their images out to the public, the more likely that they’re going to be recovered.”
Unbehaun’s father said, “I’m overjoyed that Kayla is home safe… We ask for privacy as we get to know each other again and navigate this new beginning.”
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Heather Unbehaun, her 40-year-old mother, is currently in custody and faces child abduction charges. On a $250,000 secured bail, she was admitted to the Buncombe County Detention Facility.
As reported by ABC station WLOS, the North Carolina Department of Social Services received Kayla and then notified the Illinois authorities. Her father drove to pick her up the next day after discovering her. Since then, she has gone back to Illinois.