ST. CHARLES, Ill. (AP) — A girl who was allegedly abducted by her mother in suburban Chicago nearly six years ago has been found safe hundreds of miles away in North Carolina after she was spotted at a business, authorities said.
Officers found a woman and a minor child at the business in Asheville, North Carolina, and were able to confirm their identities, police said. They said the woman, Heather Unbehaun, 40, was wanted on an extradition warrant out of Illinois for child abduction.
Unbehaun didn’t have custody of the girl after a court order granted permanent custody to the child’s father, the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office said.
Unbehaun posted $25,000 bond Tuesday and was released from custody, the state’s attorney’s office said. Unbehaun declined to waive extradition, it said. It wasn’t clear whether she had an attorney who could comment on the allegations against her.
South Elgin, Illinois, police said they were notified Saturday by police in Asheville that they had received a tip from a store employee who recognized Unbehaun and recalled that the child was missing. A store employee immediately notified Asheville police, who contacted South Elgin police.
Asheville police then took Unbehaun into custody. The child has since been reunited with her father in South Elgin, which is nearly 700 miles (1,126 kilometers) away.
“We are overjoyed to report that the child is in good condition and in good spirits since being reunited with her father,” South Elgin Police Chief Jerry Krawczyk said in a statement.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said the girl was 9 when Unehaun allegedly abducted her from South Elgin on July 5, 2017.
In its news release, the center included a statement from the girl’s father, identified only as “Ryan,” where he said he’s “overjoyed” that his daughter “is home safe.” He thanked the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, South Elgin police and other law enforcement agencies for their efforts.
“We ask for privacy as we get to know each other again and navigate this new beginning,” he added.
The girl’s 2017 abduction was featured on the Netflix Unsolved Mysteries reboot, WLOS-TV reported.