Found ALIVE – After All This Time!

( – A young girl abducted in 2017 has been found alive in North Carolina. Kayla Unbehaun and her non-custodial mother from Illinois went missing a day after the July 4th celebrations. Her father, who had full custody, went to pick her up from her mother’s house, but both were gone. Neighbors told the father they had left for a camping trip, but they never returned.  

Kayla, now 15, was found when a Netflix viewer recognized her from a documentary on missing children and called the police.

Heather Unbehaun turned herself in a couple of days after the girl was rescued, and police charged her with kidnapping and child abduction. She was released on $250,000 bail.

The observant store owner who spotted Kayla at a shopping mall on May 13th recognized her from a Netflix Unsolved Mysteries episode. The series focuses on several missing children from across the United States. It examines the disappearance of Amina and Belel Kandil, allegedly abducted by their father in 2014, and Luis Alderete-Martinez, who went missing with his mother a year later in 2015.

The number of parental kidnappings in the US has varied wildly since the 1970s. In 1976, there were around 60,000 cases. By 1984, the figure had exploded to over 750,000, but by 2010, it had dropped to around 200,000. A non-custodial parent commits an offense if they breach the terms of a custody agreement or take a child out of a stated jurisdiction without court permission.

The issue is governed by two pieces of legislation – the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act and the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act. The first of these deals with jurisdictional issues. For example, it clarified that the state a child lived in 6 months before abduction, is the state whose laws will apply to the case. 

The International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act imposes a three-year prison sentence on parents who remove their children from the US unlawfully.

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