Missing 9-Year-Old Girl Featured On ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ Has Been Found

Note: we are republishing this story which originally made the news in May 2023.

In a surprising turn of events, the woman accused of abducting her daughter from an Illinois suburb six years ago has turned herself in, bringing a dramatic end to a case that captured national attention. Heather Unbehaun, the mother of 15-year-old Kayla Unbehaun, is now in custody at the Kane County Adult Justice Center in Illinois, facing abduction charges without the option of bail.

Photo Credit: ABC 7 Chicago/Youtube

This unexpected development comes just days after Kayla was found safe in North Carolina and reunited with her custodial father. Unbehaun’s arrest on Saturday in North Carolina, where she was located, was carried out on a fugitive warrant from Illinois, specifically on charges of kidnapping and child abduction. Despite initially being held on a substantial $250,000 bond, Unbehaun was later released after posting bail on Tuesday morning, as confirmed by Asheville Police Department spokesperson Samantha Booth.

Photo Credit: ABC 7 Chicago/Youtube

The case dates back to July 4, 2017, when Kayla, then 9 years old, was reportedly abducted by Unbehaun after attending a parade in South Elgin, a Chicago suburb. The situation took a dark turn when, following the parade, Unbehaun informed Kayla’s custodial father, Ryan Iserka, that they were going on a camping trip. Unfortunately, neither Unbehaun nor Kayla returned, leading to a felony warrant for Unbehaun’s arrest on kidnapping charges.

The breakthrough in the case occurred when a vigilant individual in Asheville recognized Kayla from an episode of Netflix’s “Unsolved Mysteries” about parental abductions. This person promptly alerted the authorities, resulting in Kayla being located and the subsequent arrest of Unbehaun.

Photo Credit: ABC 7 Chicago/Youtube

The legal history between Unbehaun and Iserka reveals a tumultuous custody battle. Iserka had obtained full custody of Kayla in early 2017, with Unbehaun granted only unsupervised “parenting time” visits. Concerns about Kayla’s well-being were evident in court documents, as the judge had previously granted Iserka sole discretion over medical decisions due to Unbehaun’s alleged interference with the child’s healthcare.

Attorney John Vojta, representing Iserka, expressed his concern over Unbehaun’s release on bond, given her fugitive status for six years. Meanwhile, Iserka and Kayla have been reunited, and they made the journey back to Illinois together. In a statement, Iserka thanked the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, law enforcement agencies, and the supporters on the ‘Bring Kayla Home’ Facebook page for their role in the safe return of his daughter.

Photo Credit: ABC 7 Chicago/Youtube

As the legal proceedings unfold, Unbehaun is scheduled for her next court appearance on Wednesday morning at the Kane County Judicial Center. The unexpected twists and turns in this case continue to captivate the public’s attention.

Sources: CNN

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