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Missing girl Kayla Unbehaun featured on ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ found safe after stranger recognizes her

A missing Illinois girl whose abduction was featured on a popular true crime series on Netflix show 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.

Neither Kayla nor Heather had been located until May 13, when an employee at Plato’s Closet in Asheville, North Carolina recognized the pair from “‘well-publicized media’” and alerted police, WLOS reported.

It is not clear precisely what media the worker recognized the mother and daughter from but Kayla’s kidnapping was featured in an episode of Netflix’s “Unsolved Mysteries” last year dedicated to parental abductions.

Heather, 40, was arrested by local authorities and is being held on $225,000 bond, the outlet said.

She is awaiting extradition to Illinois, where the Kane County State’s Attorney is prepared to charge her with at least one count of child abduction. 

Kayla, now 15, is in the custody of the North Carolina Department of Social Services.

In July 2017, Heather only had visitation rights with Kayla, who primarily resided with her father, Ryan Iskerka.

Kayla was 9 years old when her mother abducted her from South Elgin in July 2017.
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Heather Unbehaun.
Heather Unbehaun was arrested and now faces extradition.
Asheville Police Department

“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,” Ryan said in an emotional statement shared through NCMEC.

“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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