The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) said Monday that a girl who had been missing from Illinois since 2017 and was featured on the Netflix version of Unsolved Mysteries had been found in Asheville.
Heather E. Unbehaun, who is 40 years old, was arrested on Westgate Parkway on May 13.
NCMEC says that Kayla Unbehaun’s non-custodial mother, Heather, took her from South Elgin, Illinois, on July 5, 2017, when she was 9 years old.
The tweet below verifies the news:
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
“I’m overjoyed that Kayla is home safe. I want to thank [the City of Elgin, Illinois Police and Fire Departments], the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and all of the law enforcement agencies who assisted with her case,” her father, Ryan, said in a statement. “We ask for privacy as we get to know each other again and navigate this new beginning.”
The Asheville Police Department told News 13 that the girl was seen near Plato’s Closet on Saturday, May 13, around 7:30 p.m. A worker at the store recognized the missing child from “well-publicized media” and called the cops.
After doing more research, the police were sure that this was the lost child. Heather Unbehaun, the person who took the child, was caught and put in the Buncombe County Jail.
After Kayla was found, she was given to the North Carolina Department of Social Services, and they informed authorities in Illinois.
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The day after she was found, her father drove to get her. Since then, she has gone back to Illinois.
Heather Unbehaun is being kept in jail with a $250,000 bond while she waits to be sent to prison.
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