THE father of a girl who went missing for six years has shared his excitement after she was found safe.
Kayla Unbehaun was just nine years old in 2017 when her mother Heather Unbehaun allegedly kidnapped her.
They disappeared from the mom’s home in Wheaton, Illinois – a suburb of Chicago – shortly before Kayla’s dad Ryan Iskerka was supposed to pick her up.
The parents were in the middle of a tumultuous divorce.
Iskerka had custody of Kayla at the time and Heather had only been granted visitation rights.
“I’m overjoyed that Kayla is home safe,” Iskerka said in a statement posted to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s Facebook page.
Heather was arrested over the weekend after a store owner in North Carolina recognized Kayla, now 15, from Netflix’s true crime series Unsolved Mysteries.
“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,” Iskerka said.
“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.”
Below a post announcing that Kayla had been found, members of the group expressed their excitement.
“Beyond happy for your family!!” one commenter said.
“I hope everything goes well with transitioning her back in to everything,” said another.
“It’s going to be a big adjustment.”
Other members of the group addressed the relationship between Kayla and her mother.
“Sweet Kayla will have healing to do in this and will still love her mom,” one commenter said.
“I pray somehow, forgiveness allows her to still connect with her mother
“She deserves every chance to know her father, but still connect with her mother if she so chooses, even if the mother is behind bars.”
Kayla was placed in protective custody after she was found.
“We ask for privacy as we get to know each other again and navigate this new beginning,” Iskerka said.