Kayla Unbehaun recognized from Netflix 'Unsolved Mysteries' episode 6 years after abduction

Kayla Unbehaun now reunited with father

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Wednesday, May 17, 2023
South Elgin girl missing 6 years recognized from Netflix show
Kayla Unbehaun, missing since 2017, was recognized in North Carolina from a Netflix episode of "Unsolved Mysteries."

CHICAGO -- Police in North Carolina have released new details about the moment a South Elgin girl was found safe nearly six years after she was abducted.

Kayla Unbehaun was nine years old when she was abducted. She's was found safe thanks to a remarkable set of circumstances.

Kayla Unbehaun has now been reunited with her dad all thanks to an employee at a shopping center in Asheville, North Carolina who recognized Kayla's face from a show on Netflix.

Kayla was nine-years-old back in 2017 when her father, Ryan Iserka, was granted full custody of her. He said Kayla's mom, Heather, later kidnapped her after a visit.

"What's most unusual is the ability to stay off the grid, if you will, for that period of time," Asheville Police Lieutenant Jonathan Brown said. "Typically, we leave a technological bread crumb and those are usually very easy and quick to be tracked."

Netflix released a new season of "Unsolved Mysteries" last year with an episode centered on parental abductions.

Remarkably, Kayla's story was not the main focus of the episode. Her picture was only part of a brief roll call of missing people at the end of the episode, the pictures digitally-age progressed.

"The media is so important when it comes to the recovery of missing children," Callahan Walsh of the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children said. "Even in these long term cases, the more we tell the story of these missing children and put their images out to the public, the more likely that they're going to be recovered."

It was a minor, working at that shopping center in Asheville, who spotted Kayla, recognizing her from not just the Netflix series, but also from her childhood -

The connection is not clear, but the store manager called police..

Kayla's father said, "I'm overjoyed that Kayla is home safe... We ask for privacy as we get to know each other again and navigate this new beginning."

ABC7 Chicago's sister station in Asheville, North Carolina reported that police arrested 40-year-old Heather Unbehaun in Asheville over the weekend. Authorities said Heather Unbehaun posted $250,000 bail, and is next due in court July 11 in North Carolina.

WLS-TV contributed to this report