Girl Missing Since 2017 Found After Store Owner Recognizes Her

A store owner in North Carolina called police after recognizing the 15-year-old from a recent episode of Netflix’s “Unsolved Mysteries”


The father of a missing Illinois girl is “overjoyed” Tuesday after authorities tracked down his daughter, who was abducted nearly six years ago when she was 9 years old.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children shared the news that Kayla Unbehaun, now 15, had been found safe in North Carolina on Tuesday morning.

“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,” the organization alleged in a tweet.

“I’m overjoyed that Kayla is home safe,” Unbehaun’s father Ryan Iserka said in a statement, shared via the NCMEC organization. “I want to thank [the Elgin, Ill., police and fire departments], 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.”

NBC 5 and ABC 7 Chicago reported that Kayla was found after the owner of a Plato’s Closet in Asheville, N.C., recognized the girl from an episode of Netflix’s “Unsolved Mysteries” show released last November.

The store owner called the police, who then arrested the girl’s mother.

The mother, Heather Unbehaun, faces child abduction charges, according to WGN-TV in Chicago. She was released on bond Tuesday, WLOS-TV reports.

It’s not immediately clear if she has entered a plea or retained an attorney.

Kayla was reported missing in the summer of 2017 when her mother allegedly took her on a camping trip and the two never returned, according to WGN.

Iserka was scheduled to pick his daughter up from Heather’s home in Wheaton, Ill., after the trip. Heather did not have rights to Kayla’s custody, according to the outlet.

“It was discovered that all of Heather’s social media had been canceled and her phone turned off,” Iserka previously wrote on a GoFundMe page that raised thousands of dollars to help search for his daughter. “As far as we know, no one has been able to reach her or has talked to her since the 4th of July [in 2017].”

NBC reports Kayla was placed in the care of North Carolina Division of Social Services after being discovered this weekend and will soon be reunited with her family in Illinois.