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Local News

Girl, 9, and mother reported missing from Wheaton amid custody strife

Father: 'Suddenly, no one knows where they're at'

A 9-year-old girl from South Elgin and her mother were reported missing July 6 after the girl was not there when her father came to pick her up after a court-ordered visitation, Wheaton police said.

Kayla Unbehaun and her mother, Heather Unbehaun, 35, were last seen July 4 in Wheaton, with Heather Unbehaun driving a late model dark green Toyota Camry with Georgia license plates, according to a GoFundMe account set up by the girl’s father, Ryan Iskerka.

The page is to help Iskerka with court costs and hiring a private investigator to bring his daughter home. He and Heather Unbehaun are parents of Kayla Unbehaun but have never been married.

Family had told Iskerka his daughter and her mother had gone on a camping trip in Wisconsin, he said.

“It is my belief she is not intending to return with Kayla,” Iskerka said.

“Her mother and I communicate through the Our Family Wizard website,” Iskerka said. “It assists people to help them communicate with co-parenting. I confirmed with her that it would be 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 5, that I would be picking up Kayla, and she responded that she knew. That was on June 29. I absolutely had no idea about a camping trip or anything. She did not say anything about it to me.”

Earlier on July 5, Iskerka said he used the service to send her a message about 3 p.m. that he would be 15 to 20 minutes late picking up his daughter. The website shows Heather Unbehaun never saw that last message, Iskerka said.

According to the GoFundMe page, all of Heather Unbehaun’s social media has been canceled, her phone is turned off and she did not come to a July 7 court date concerning the couple’s ongoing custody issues.

Iskerka had been granted full custody in March, with Heather Unbehaun having specified times for visitation, Iskerka said.

The couple’s relationship ended two weeks after their daughter was born, Iskerka said, but they handled visitation and parenting informally until about four years ago when Heather Unbehaun moved to Georgia, he said.

They began to rely on the courts to formalize visitation and custody issues, Iskerka and court records show, ultimately resulting in he and his wife having full custody of Kayla Unbehaun.

Iskerka said they registered Kayla Unbehaun for fourth grade at Fox Meadow Elementary School in South Elgin, he said. Previously, the girl had attended a school in Wheaton.

“This has never happened before,” Iskerka said of Heather Unbehaun disappearing with their daughter. “Suddenly, no one knows where they’re at. That worries me. I never thought she’d do this.”

If anyone sees Kayla Unbehaun or her mother, Heather Unbehaun, they are asked to call 911, Wheaton police at 630-260-2161 or the Center of Missing and Exploited Children at 800-843-5678.

Kayla Unbehaun is 52 inches tall, weighs 60 pounds, with blue eyes and blond hair.

Heather Unbehaun has blue eyes, dark blond hair, is 5 foot 3 and weighs about 135 pounds.

Detective Sgt. P.J. Youker said Kayla Unbehaun is not being considered for an Amber Alert at this time because she is not missing endangered or missing involuntary.

“An Amber Alert has very strict guidelines,” Youker said. “There has to be a threat or force in the taking of a juvenile."

Youker said police have attempted to call the cellphones belonging to the mother and child but were unsuccessful.

In order to use technology to track their whereabouts via cellphones, Youker said the situation would have to rise to a criminal charge and involve phone search warrants and subpoenas.

“We are doing everything possible to locate them at this point in time,” Youker said. “Given the situation, this is not something we can immediately resolve using the full force of police resources. There are no criminal charges at this point.”

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