In North Carolina, authorities have found a child whose non-custodial mother abducted her in 2017.
Kayla Unbehaun, nine years old, was last seen on July 4, 2017. However, when her dad, Ryan, arrived at her mom’s residence on July 5, she was not there.
Kayla was in Ryan’s complete custody, while her mother, Heather Unbehaun, had only visiting rights.
In the years after her abduction, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) issued a warning and uploaded age-progression images to depict how she could look now.
The case was also prominently addressed in Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries series, which focuses on parental kidnappings.
However, over the weekend, a store owner who purportedly saw the episode noticed Kayla in an Asheville shopping center and immediately notified authorities.
Kayla, who is now a teenager, was put into protective care. Details on her recovery have not yet been released.
Her mother is being held on $250,000 bail and awaiting extradition.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, they are glad to report that Kayla Unbehaun has been discovered safe in North Carolina!
Kayla’s father requested that NCMEC make the following statement on his behalf that he is delighted that Kayla is home safe. He’d wish to express his gratitude to @ElginPDFD, the National Centre for Missing & Exploited Children, and all of the law enforcement agencies that cooperated in her case. They seek privacy as they get to know each other again and navigate this new start.
It’s rare, yet it’s nice that when someone does suspect that they recognize someone, regardless of how old the story may be, that they are not afraid to give them a call so they can come and investigate, said Lt. Diana Loveland of the Asheville, North Carolina Police Department.
A woman who was kidnapped more than 50 years ago was reunited with her family last year after a DNA test established her identity.
When her babysitter removed Melissa Highsmith from her Fort Worth home in 1971, she was only 22 months old.
Highsmith was reunited with her original parents, Jeffrie Higshmith, 72, and Alta Alpantenco, 73, after 51 years apart, and met her siblings Rebecca Del Bosque, 48; Victoria Highsmith, 47; Sharon Highsmith, 45; and Jeffrey Highsmith, 42, for the first time last November.
Highsmith’s heartbroken parents searched for their lost child for decades until she was located when her kids submitted DNA samples to the genealogy website 23andMe.
The family announced the good news on Facebook in a post back in November.
Even though Melissa had been missing for decades, the family never forgot about her, the statement claimed. They kept throwing birthday parties for her, the most recent one being in November. The family discovered a match in DNA findings the same day.