Woman accused of abducting girl who was finally found 6 years later turns herself in
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Featured Image Credit: NCMEC / CNN
The woman accused of abducting a girl after she was found six years later has finally turned herself in to authorities.
Kayla Unbehaun was last seen on July 4, 2017 and was just nine-years-old when she was abducted by her non-custodial mother.
After over half a decade, Kayla, now 15, has finally been found and her abductor has handed herself over to Illinois police, currently facing kidnapping and child abduction charges.
The news of Kayla's disappearance first broke when her father, Ryan, who had full custody of the child, went to pick her up from her mother's house on July 5, 2017 and discovered she was not there.
In the years following her vanishing, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) broadcasted an alert online and posted age-progression photos to show how Kayla may look in present times.
But luckily, after over half a decade, a store owner recognised the child at a shopping center in Asheville, North Carolina, over the weekend and alerted police right away.
The now-teenager was found, with the NCMEC announcing they were 'excited to share that Kayla Unbehaun has been FOUND SAFE in North Carolina!'
Kayla’s dad asked NCMEC to share a statement on his behalf, which read: "I’m overjoyed that Kayla is home safe. I want to thank @ElginPDFD, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and all of the law enforcement agencies who assisted with her case.
"We ask for privacy as we get to know each other again and navigate this new beginning."
The woman accused of abducting the child all those years ago has since come forward and surrendered herself to authorities.
Heather Unbehaun, Kayla's mother, was being held at the Kane County Adult Justice Centre in Illinois without bond on an abduction charge, according to the jail.
According to the NCMEC, a felony warrant for kidnapping was first issued for Heather on July 28, 2017.
After turning herself in, Heather was subsequently arrested on Saturday (13 May) on a fugitive warrant out of Illinois on kidnapping and child abduction charges and was held on a $376,107 bond while she awaited extradition, Buncombe County, North Carolina, Deputy Clerk Cory Alexander told CNN on Tuesday (16 May).
Heath Unbehaun is next set to appear in court at the Kane County Judicial Centre this following Wednesday morning (24 May), per online jail records.
UNILAD has reached out to the Kane County Adult Justice Centre for comment.