Her return is no ordinary story, as she was abducted by her own mother and was found thanks to a viewer recognizing her from an episode of Netflix's 'Unsolved Mysteries.'
Trigger warning: This article contains themes of abduction and trauma that some readers may find distressing
A girl named Kayla Unbehaun went missing when she was 9 years old. She returned to her father on May 16 after almost 6 years of disappearance. He is "overjoyed" after reuniting with his daughter. However, this is no ordinary tale of a lost and found girl. Kayla was actually abducted by her own mother and her discovery was made possible due to a viewer recognizing her from a recent episode of the popular Netflix series "Unsolved Mysteries." The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children shared that Kayla Unbehaun, now 15, had been found safe in North Carolina on the morning of May 16, reports People.
An Unsolved Mysteries viewer has closed a case!— Netflix (@netflix) May 16, 2023
A store owner in North Carolina recognized Kayla Unbehaun — who was abducted in 2017 by her non-custodial mother — from the roll call in Volume 3, Episode 9. Kayla, now 15, is expected to return to her family in Illinois. pic.twitter.com/q8mTegq6xN
Kayla was taken by her non-custodial mother, Heather Unbehaun, at the young age of 9 from South Elgin, Illinois on July 5, 2017, according to a tweet by the organization. Her father, Ryan Iserka, expressed his overwhelming joy at her safe return, extending his gratitude to the Elgin, Ill., police and fire departments, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and all the law enforcement agencies involved in her case. As they reconnect and embark on this fresh start, he kindly requested privacy for their family.
BREAKING NEWS ‼️— National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (@MissingKids) May 16, 2023
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
Kayla's discovery unfolded when a vigilant storeowner in Nashville, having recognized her from a November episode of Netflix's "Unsolved Mysteries," promptly alerted the police, per NBC 5. The store owner informed the police immediately which led to the arrest of Kayla's mother. Her mother, Heather Unbehaun, will be charged with child abduction among other charges, according to WGN-TV. As per WLOS-TV, she was released on a bond and was charged $250,000 on bail. She has to appear in court on 11 July in North Carolina.
In 2017, the day after Kayla's visit to her mother, her father came to pick her up and saw that the mother and daughter were missing. He asked the police to locate Kayla but the operation was unsuccessful. "It was discovered that all of Heather's social media had been canceled and her phone turned off," her father wrote on a GoFundMe page he made 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]."
Her father did not give up as he started a Facebook page to find his daughter. In April, the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children released an estimated picture of what Kayla might look like, 6 years after her abduction. This led to her discovery, 600 miles away from her former home, North Carolina, as per Ladbible. She is now safe all thanks to Netflix's show and her father's consistent efforts to find her.