Netflix docuseries Unsolved Mysteries helps rescue kidnapped girl who disappeared 6 years prior

By Mason Berlinka

Published May 17, 2023 at 01:09 PM

Reading time: 1 minute

Have you ever been out and about in town and found yourself staring a little too long at a stranger, thinking:“I feel like I know this person”? An undisclosed shop owner from Asheville, North Carolina found themselves in this exact position this year. And the person they recognised? None other than Kayla Unbehaun, a girl who had gone missing six years earlier in Illinois—600 miles away from North Carolina.

So how did this attentive passer-by recognise the missing 15-year-old? You can thank Netflix for that one. The story of Unbehaun’s disappearance was covered on the Netflix hit docuseries Unsolved Mysteries, in an episode titled “Abducted by a Parent.”

Unbehaun initially went missing on 5 July 2017, after her father Ryan Unbehaun went to pick her up from a visit at her mother’s, who had visitation rights but not custody of her daughter. On arrival at her residence in Wheaton, Illinois, it was discovered that the young girl and her mother were both missing.

Despite the assistance of the National Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the authorities, the trail to find Unbehaun and her mother went cold after years of searching. The story remained forgotten until it was eventually picked up by Netflix for an episode of its true crime series.

The recent update, initially reported by ABC7 Chicago, said that the good samaritan was able to identify the missing girl thanks to the episode covering her story. The police were called and the girl was quickly found and taken into protective custody.

The rescue mission has left the girl’s father overjoyed. The NCMEC shared a statement saying: “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.”

“We ask for privacy as we get to know each other again and navigate this new beginning,” the once grieving father added.

The girl’s mother, Heather Unbehaun, has since been arrested and is being held on a bond of $250,000. Although awaiting extradition, the 40-year-old is facing kidnapping and abduction charges over the disappearance.

So, I guess the streamers aren’t so bad. Remember: if you ever go missing, better hope they cover your story on Netflix. You never know where you might be recognised.

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