Girl Who Was Missing for Six Years Finally Found Alive - Alleged Kidnapper Arrested
Kayla Unbehaun was just 9 years old when she was allegedly abducted by her noncustodial mother on July 5, 2017.
Kayla Unbehaun was 9 years old when she was abducted by her mother and the two hadn’t been seen since. https://t.co/tsgkoV461K
— KHOU 11 News Houston (@KHOU) May 17, 2023
According to WLOS, Kayla, at the age of 15, has been reunited with her family while her mother, Heather Unbehaun, has been arrested and released from Buncombe County Detention Facility after posting a $250,000 bond Tuesday.
Heather Unbehaun, according to Today, is facing a charge of child abduction, which is a Class 4 felony, after kidnapping her own daughter after the dad was granted custody.
“If she’s convicted of that, she’d be looking at probation or one to three years in the Illinois Department of Corrections,” Chris Nelson from the Kane County (Illinois) State’s Attorney’s Office told Today.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) tweeted that Kayla was found safe in North Carolina after being abducted in South Elgin, Illinois.
BREAKING NEWS ‼️
NCMEC is excited to share that Kayla Unbehaun has been FOUND SAFE in North Carolina!
Kayla was only 9 years old when she was abducted by her non-custodial mother, Heather Unbehaun from South Elgin, Illinois on July 5, 2017. Kayla’s dad, Ryan asked NCMEC to… pic.twitter.com/5O7bpEjIhT
— National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (@MissingKids) May 16, 2023
Kayla’s story regained national attention in November 2022 when the Netflix series “Unsolved Mysteries” included Kayla’s abduction in their “roll call” of volume 3 episode 9 called “Abducted by a Parent.”
UPDATE: Kayla Unbehaun, who was abducted in 2017 by her non-custodial mother Heather, has been found safe. A store owner in North Carolina recognized Kayla, now 15, from the roll call in Volume 3, Episode 9 “Abducted by a Parent” on @Netflix. Heather was arrested over the… pic.twitter.com/7QswAjUvLU
— Unsolved Mysteries (@Unsolved) May 16, 2023
Interestingly, Kayla’s story was not the main focus of the episode, but her picture was a part of a brief roll call at the end of the episode. Her picture, according to WTVD, was digitally aged.
Based on that show, a store employee recognized Kayla both from “Unsolved Mysteries” and from her childhood and reported it to her manager.
Prior to being reunited with her father, Kayla was last seen in Wheaton, Illinois, attending a parade with her mother. Today referenced a previous GoFundMe created by Kayla’s dad that stated, “he was supposed to meet Heather Unbehuan on July 5 to pick up Kayla, but the two never arrived.”
“What’s most unusual is the ability to stay off the grid, if you will, for that period of time. Typically, we leave a technological bread crumb and those are usually very easy and quick to be tracked down. This was not,” said Asheville Police Department LT. Jonathan Brown according to WLOS.
Heather and Kayla stayed undetected for six years, and NCMEC Child Advocate Callahan Walsh said, “To see this child finally recover, reunited with her father after this many years, it’s incredible.”
In an NCMEC Facebook post, Kayla’s dad, Ryan, wrote, “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 added, “We ask for privacy as we get to know each other again and navigate this new beginning.”
Heather Unbehaun’s first court date is July 11, in Buncombe County.
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