9-Year-Old Girl from Illinois Went Missing in 2017, Then Store Owner Recognizes Her Years Later

girl missing since 2017 found

One person who is a fan of a popular Netflix series helped authorities locate a girl from Illinois who had been missing for years in North Carolina.

Crimes that involve children are always some of the most difficult to read and hear about. Children are some of the most vulnerable members of society. As such, most people could not imagine subjecting children to abuse.

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Other cases involving children, who have been missing for years, generally do not end with the best result. Luckily, one child – Kayla Unbehaun – who had been missing since 2017, has been found in a North Carolina store. She is now set to be reunited with her father, according to People.

However, the big break in the case came because someone watched a program on Netflix. While in a Plato's Closet, the store’s owner recognized the child. That's because the person had viewed a 2022 episode of "Unsolved Mysteries," which featured Kayla.

In July 2017, then-9-year-old Kayla was kidnapped by her non-custodial mother Heather Unbehaun, according to a social media post from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

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It was the fan of "Unsolved Mysteries" who called the police. Heather was taken into custody, People reported.

The Child’s Father Thanked Law Enforcement and Everyone On Social Media Who Helped With the Case

Prior to Kayla's abduction, she was in Illinois with her mother, who only had visitation rights. But when her father, who had custody of Kayla, went to pick up Kayla, Kayla and Heather were nowhere to be found, ABC 7 reported.

Kayla's father, Ryan Iskerka, praised and thanked law enforcement in the search for his daughter in a statement.

"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," Ryan said.

Ryan also thanked those people on social media for their efforts.

"I also want to thank all of the followers on the "Bring Kayla Home" Facebook page, who helped keep her story alive and were instrumental in spreading awareness."

This was a case law enforcement had been working on for years.

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"Super happy," Jerry Krawczyk, chief of the South Elgin Police Department said. "You know, even last week we were still working on this case. I was talking to the detectives about it, and they were trying to follow leads with US Marshals."

Thank God this missing child case ended with the best result possible: a recovered and safe child.

WATCH: Child Missing Since 2017 Found in North Carolina

LISTEN: Police Officer Responds To Call And Feels God Telling Him To Adopt 5 Siblings

h/t: People, NBC Chicago, ABC 7, MissingKids.org, Twitter.com/@MissingKids & YouTube.com/ABC 7 Chicago

Featured Image Credit: YouTube.com/ABC 7 Chicago