Girl missing for nearly 6 years found safe in North Carolina, mother charged

Kayla Unbehaun was only 9 when she was abducted in Illinois.
Published: May. 16, 2023 at 6:23 AM CDT
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SOUTH ELGIN, Ill. (WBTV/Gray News) - A girl missing for nearly six years has been found safe in North Carolina, and her non-custodial mother is in jail.

Heather Unbehaun is accused of kidnapping her daughter Kayla Unbehaun, of whom she did not have custody, from South Elgin, Illinois, on July 5, 2017, when the child was just 9 years old.

Unbehaun is being held on a $250,000 bond and is awaiting extradition back to Illinois.

For years, Kayla’s picture has been on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website. The organization even has a more recent age-progressed photo of what she would look like now, at the age of 15.

Kayla Unbehaun has been found after being missing for nearly six years.

Kayla’s father, Ryan Iserka, previously told a CBS station in Chicago that her mother had visitation rights every other weekend back in 2017.

After the July 4th holiday that year, his daughter never returned from a camping trip.

Her father shared a statement that he is overjoyed that Kayla is home safe and thanked everyone who helped make it possible.

He also asked for privacy as they get to know each other again.