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Unsolved Mysteries of Missing Persons: Randy Leach, Kayla Unbehaun, Kristin Smart, Katelin Akens Hope and Collaboration in the Search for Missing Persons in Syracuse

Missing Persons Unsolved Mysteries

Missing persons unsolved mysteries can baffle even the most seasoned detective. These cases span centuries, age ranges, and locations, leaving a lot of room for speculation, theories, and conspiracy.

Sometimes, these stories end up with fitting resolutions. Like when the story of Kayla Unbehaun, who disappeared with her mother in 2017, was featured on Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries.

1. Randy Leach

The night of April 15, 1988, Randy Leach disappeared from his mother’s house in Linwood, Kansas. He drove to a nearby property with his high school friends for a bonfire party, but never returned home.

His parents Harold and Alberta searched for their son every day. They even hired investigators. One of them was a former KBI agent who worked on the case until he died of lung cancer.

Various rumors surfaced in the wake of Randy’s disappearance, including that he was killed by a Satanic cult. But there’s no evidence he was murdered, and the cult rumor didn’t pan out.

In the years since, there have been a few updates to this case, but nothing concrete. One of the latest involves a foot that was found in a shoe, but it wasn’t Randy’s, according to a report from YouTube channel Adventures with Purpose. Despite the lack of solid information, Harold Leach hasn’t given up hope that his son will return home to him.

2. Kayla Unbehaun

After the first season of Netflix’s rebooted “Unsolved Mysteries” series aired in 2020, producers received 20 credible tips and passed them to authorities. Eventually, one of those tips led to the discovery of Kayla Unbehaun, who was abducted by her mother in Illinois six years ago.

In July 2017, Heather Unbehaun strapped Kayla and her belongings to the roof of their car after attending a parade in South Elgin, a Chicago suburb, then told family members she was going on a camping trip. She never returned, prompting a search. A GoFundMe campaign that raised thousands of dollars was launched, but Unbehaun and Kayla remained missing until Saturday, when an employee at Plato’s Closet in Asheville, North Carolina, recognized the girl from an episode of the TV show and called police.

Now 40, Unbehaun was arrested and charged with child abduction in Kane County, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. She bonded out of jail in Asheville on Tuesday and is being kept under house arrest, with a GPS monitor, until a court decides how to extradite her to Illinois.

3. Kristin Smart

Almost two decades after Kristin Smart disappeared from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, her parents are still fighting for answers. Their tireless campaigning led to Ian Parkinson becoming the sheriff, and he promised the Smarts he would prioritize their daughter’s case.

The freshman was last seen at a party with fellow students Tim Davis and Cheryl Anderson. They told police she appeared very intoxicated and was slurring her speech. As the party was ending, Paul Flores volunteered to help her walk back to their dorm rooms. He claimed he came out of nowhere, but Smart’s friends say he was at the party for a long time.

Police were slow to file a missing persons report and criticized her for drinking in public, which her family says felt like victim shaming. They also delayed getting a search warrant for the home of Paul and his father Ruben Flores, who they claim helped conceal her body.

4. Katelin Akens

When Katelin Akens disappeared from her family’s home in Spotsylvania County, Virginia on December 5, 2015, her loved ones were distraught and fearful that she would be lost forever. The 19-year-old was visiting her mother Lisa Sullivan and younger sibling Gabrielle to meet their new nephew and collect her high school diploma before heading back to Arizona where she lived with her fiancee to start cosmetology school.

The last person to see her was her former stepfather James Branton, who told police that he dropped her off at the mall and then drove to work. However, when authorities pinged his phone to his home they discovered that he was not at the airport when he claimed he had.

Two days later, her blue suitcase was found along a roadside ditch, unzipped and empty except for money and credit cards. A wallet with Arizona identification was also inside the suitcase. Police believe it was Katelin’s. The case remains under investigation.

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