Girl who’s been missing for nearly 6 years finally found
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Featured Image Credit: NCMEC
A girl who was abducted by her non-custodial mother in 2017 has been found in North Carolina.
Kayla Unbehaun was last seen on July 4, 2017, when she was nine-years-old. But when her father, Ryan, went to pick her up from her mother's house on July 5, she was not there.
Ryan had full custody of Kayla, while her mom, Heather Unbehaun, only had visitation rights.
In the years after her disappearance, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) posted an alert online and would post age-progression photos to show how she may look in present times.
The case was also famously mentioned in Netflix's Unsolved Mysteries series, which is about parental abductions.
But over this past weekend, a store owner - who reportedly watched the show - recognised Kayla at a shopping center in Asheville and informed police right away.
While details of her recovery have not yet been disclosed, Kayla - who is now a teenager - was taken into protective custody.
Her mom is currently being held on $250,000 bond and is awaiting extradition.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said they are 'excited to share that Kayla Unbehaun has been FOUND SAFE in North Carolina!'
Kayla’s dad asked NCMEC to share this 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."
Lt. Diana Loveland of Asheville, North Carolina Police Department, said: "It is unusual but it's good that when someone does suspect that they recognise someone, no matter how old the story might be, that they are not afraid to give us a call so we can come and investigate."
Last year, a woman who was abducted more than 50 years ago was reunited with her family after a DNA test confirmed her identity.
After 51-years apart, Highsmith was reunited with her biological parents, Jeffrie Higshmith, 72 and Alta Alpantenco, 73, and has 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 heart-broken parents spent decades looking for their missing child, who was eventually discovered after her children uploaded DNA samples to the genealogy website 23andMe.
In a post back in November, the family shared a post on Facebook announcing the good news.
“Though missing for decades, the family never forgot about Melissa,” the statement said. “They continued to throw birthday parties for her, including the most recent one in November. That same day, the family found a match in DNA results.”