'In good condition and in good spirits': Missing South Elgin girl has reunited with her father

An earlier version misspelled the name of Buncombe County.

A South Elgin girl who was found Saturday after being taken by her mother six years ago has been reunited with her family in Illinois, according to South Elgin police.

"We are overjoyed to report that the girl is in good condition and in good spirits since being reunited with her family," Deputy Chief Brett Czechowski said Tuesday in a news release.

A worker at a store in Ashville, North Carolina, notified police there that she had seen people she suspected were Kayla Unbehaun, now 15, and her mother, Heather Unbehaun.

Asheville police contacted South Elgin police to confirm the identities, then arrested Heather Unbehaun, age 40, on a fugitive-from-justice warrant Saturday night.

Kayla Unbehaun was 9 years old in July 2017 when she was visiting her mother in Wheaton. Kayla's father had custody.

Kayla and Heather attended Wheaton's Fourth of July parade. Kayla's father, Ryan Iskerka, was scheduled to pick Kayla up in Wheaton the next day.

When the mother and daughter did not return, Iskerka reported her missing.

Kane County prosecutors then charged Heather Unbehaun with one felony count of child abduction.

Heather Unbehaun was released on $25,000 bond Monday night from the Buncombe County jail in Asheville, North Carolina. She is due to appear in Buncombe County's district court on July 11 to address being extradited to Illinois. According to the Kane County state's attorney's office, Unbehaun is fighting extradition.

The news release said South Elgin police worked with numerous law enforcement agencies and traveled to various locations across the United States to attempt to find the girl.

Iskerka could not be reached for comment Tuesday. But the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children posted a statement from him.

"I'm overjoyed that Kayla is home safe," Iskerka said in the statement. "I want to thank the South Elgin Police Department, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and all of the law enforcement agencies who assisted with her case.

"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," he added. "We ask for privacy as we get to know each other again and navigate this new beginning."

At the time of the disappearance, Heather Unbehaun was living with her father in Wheaton.

To report seeing a missing or exploited child, one can contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at, or call 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).

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