Girl Featured On Unsolved Mysteries Has Been Found Alive After Missing For 6 Years

Her photo was recognized in a store.

Kayla Unbehaun was 9 years old when she and her mother Heather went missing from South Elgin, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, in 2017. Her father Ryan Iskerka had recently been granted custody, and he reported Kayla had been abducted by her mother. For six years, Kayla was missing. Until she was featured on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix and someone recognized her in North Carolina.

Last November, Kayla’s photo was featured on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries about family abductions, which a staff member at Plato’s Closet in Asheville, North Carolina had watched, NBC Chicago reported. According to Kayla’s father, the last time either she or her mom had been seen was at a Fourth of July parade in Wheaton, Illinois in 2017. When neither Heather nor Kayla showed up for a court-ordered parenting exchange the next day, after Iskerka had been granted custody of his daughter, they were both unreachable. “It was discovered that all of Heather’s social media had been canceled and her phone turned off,” Iskerka wrote on a GoFundMe page at the time. “As far as we know, no one has been able to reach her or has talked to her since the 4th of July.”

Six years later, an unnamed Plato’s Closet employee recognized Kayla this weekend when she came in the North Carolina store and called the police. After being found safe, 15-year-old Kayla was placed in the custody of the North Carolina Division of Social Services and has since been reunited with her family, according to ABC News Chicago. Unbehaun was arrested in Buncombe County, North Carolina and then released after posting bail, NBC Chicago reported, adding that she’s expected to appear in court again in July.

“I’m overjoyed that Kayla is home safe,” Iskerka said in a statement on Monday through the National Center for Missinga and Exploited Children. “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.”

“We ask for privacy as we get to know each other again and navigate this new beginning,” he added.

Approximately 5% of child abductions are carried out by a family member, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, while two-thirds of Amber Alerts are the result of a family abduction. Non-custodial parents are typically the people who carry out a family abduction.