‘Unsolved Mysteries’ Helps Solve Mystery of Missing Little Girl Six Years After Abduction
In July 2017, Kayla Unbehaun, then 9 years old, was abducted in Illinois by her mother, Heather Unbehaun, who had visitation rights but not custody.
Kayla's father Ryan, who had full custody of his daughter, realized his daughter was missing when he went to pick Kayla up from a visit with Heather and saw that both his ex and his daughter were gone.
Though Ryan searched for his daughter and reported her missing, the trail was cold for nearly six years, until Kayla's photo was featured in a 2022 Unsolved Mysteries episode titled "Abducted by a Parent."
Thanks to a chance sighting by a North Carolina viewer, Kayla, now 15, has been reunited with her dad.
According to The Independent, a store owner saw Kayla shopping and recognized her from the popular Netflix show after putting two and two together thanks to an age progression photo released by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in April.
Kayla was taken into protective custody by police after the person called in their suspicions.
"I’m overjoyed that Kayla is home safe. I want to thank the South Elgin Police Department, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and all of the law enforcement agencies who assisted with her case," Ryan said in a statement.
"We ask for privacy as we get to know each other again and navigate this new beginning," he added.
For years, Ryan kept hope alive for Kayla's safe return with a Facebook page called "Bring Kayla Home."
Heather is currently being held on a $250,000 bond. So far she has been charged with one count of child abduction.