Asheville Police arrest woman after missing child found nearly 6 years later

Kayla Unbehaun, who has been missing since 2017, has been found safe at a store in Western North Carolina. Her mother is charged with her kidnapping
Published: May. 16, 2023 at 3:04 PM EDT
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ASHEVILLE, N.C. (FOX Carolina) - The Asheville Police Department said a woman is now in custody after a child - who was missing since 2017 - was found Saturday.

Officers responded to Plato’s Closet on Westgate Parkway just before 7:30 p.m. to investigate a report made by an employee who had recognized the missing child, Kayla Unbehaun, from the media. Police said the woman with her gave fake names to investigators, but they were able to confirm the missing child’s identity from that report.

In an interview, Leemie Kahng-Sofer with the National Center for Exploited and Missing Children (NCEMC) said that the organization utilized different tools such as television and digital platforms.

National Center for Exploited and Missing Children talk about how they used different tools to get the word out about missing children.

Kayla went missing when she was 9 years old and is now 15 years old.

Officials say the abductor was identified as Heather Unbehaun, the child’s non-custodial mother. Unbehaun was arrested.

The child’s father shared a statement that he is overjoyed that she is home safe and thanked everyone who helped make it possible.

Officials say Unbehaun is being held on a $250,000 bond and is awaiting extradition back to Illinois.

Stay with FOX Carolina for updates.