15-Year-Old Kayla Unbehaun Found Alive in North Carolina Nearly 6 Years After Her Disappearance

Kayla Unbehaun, who was last seen under the care of her mother in July 2017, has been found alive in North Carolina nearly six years after she went missing – she’s now 15 years old. Her disappearance went viral in November 2022 after her story was featured on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix. 

Once Kayla was located, she was placed under the custody of the North Carolina Division of Social Services and has since been reunited with her father, Ryan Iskerka – who filed the missing person’s report for his daughter and her mother six years ago. Kayla is now back in her hometown in Illinois. 

Kayla’s mother, Heather Unbehaun, was arrested on Saturday and is facing a fugitive charge – she was originally charged with kidnapping her daughter in late-July, roughly three weeks after her disappearance. On Tuesday, Heather was released on a $250,000 bond and has a court date scheduled for July 11. 

RELATED: 8-Year-Old Boy, Breadson John, Who Has Been Missing for 8 Months, Finally Found

It was on July 4, 2017 that Kayla Unbehaun was last seen with her mother. According to family members, Heather was allegedly taking her daughter on a camping trip to Wisconsin and was seen packing her belongings onto the top of her vehicle after a Fourth of July parade. That was the last they were seen. 

Ryan Iskerka, who had full custody of his daughter at the time, was expecting to meet Heather and Kayla on July 5 for a court-ordered exchange, but grew worried when they failed to show up. He filed a missing person’s report for both of them the following day and created a GoFundMe account on July 9, 2017. 

In the GoFundMe description, Iskerka claimed that Kayla’s mother failed to ‘show up for a court date motioned by her on Friday June 7th.’ He confirmed that any donations will go towards hiring a private investigator and any additional costs related to their search and hopeful return. He raised around $2,500.

Just a few weeks later, authorities issued an arrest warrant for Kayla’s mother, who was facing a felony kidnapping charge. Now nearly six years later, Kayla Unbehaun has been found safe and has been reunited with her family. Meanwhile, Heather has been arrested (and released) and is now facing a potential prison sentence.

Ryan Iskerka Overjoyed to Have His Daughter, Kayla Unbehaun, Back

On Monday, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children took to their social media to reveal the return of Kayla Unbehaun and share a statement from the 15-year-old’s father, Ryan Iskerka – who was ‘overjoyed’ to learn that he now has his daughter back. It took six years, but it’s better late than never. 

“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,” he wrote in the statement – asking for privacy as the father-daughter ‘navigate this new beginning.’

Iskerka also thanked all the people who supported her story over the past six years, especially those that followed the ‘Bring Kayla Home’ Facebook page – which he credited for helping to ‘keep her story alive and were instrumental in spreading  awareness.’ Thanks to their persistence, his daughter is finally home.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Natasha Yi Posts Heartfelt Tribute Regarding Husband, Jeffrey Vandergrift; His Body Was Found by SFPD A Month After He Went Missing

According to the FBI, there were nearly 360,000 reports of missing children in 2022 and nearly 340,000 such reports in 2021. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children assisted law enforcement with more than 27,000 reports of missing children, including more than 1,200 family abduction cases.

About Mamas Uncut

Mamas Uncut is THE online place for moms. We cover the latest about motherhood, parenting, and entertainment as well – all with a mom-focused twist. So if you're looking for parenting advice from real parents, we have plenty of it, all for moms from moms, and also experts. Because, at the end of the day, our mission is focused solely on empowering moms and moms-to-be with the knowledge and answers they’re looking for in one safe space.

Scroll to Top