Brenda Heist, Mother Missing For 11 Years, Resurfaces In Florida
Brenda Heist hitchhiked to South Florida with three other people back in 2002
Brenda Heist has resurfaced after 11 years have passed since she went missing after dropping her two children off at school one morning in 2002.
Heist, in a moment of desperation last week, turned herself in at a Florida police station and explained that she had abandoned her life in Pennsylvania over a decade ago. She started off her new life homeless, spent seven years living with a man in a camper, and had been living back on the streets the last couple of years. "She said she was at the end of her rope, she was tired of running," Litiz Borough Police Detective John Schofield told CBS.
On the day Heist disappeared she had been crying in her parked car, distressed about her impending divorce and her lack of a steady income to support her children. When three strangers approached her and suggested that she travel with them down to Florida, she took them up on their offer. When her children, then 8 and 12 years old, returned home from school, their mother was already headed south. The journey to South Florida took the three hitchhikers a long month, in which they scavenged for food in restaurant trash bins and slept under bridges.
When Detective Schofield received the call from Florida informing him that Brenda Heist had been found, he was certain that they had found her remains. Similarly, when Brenda's ex-husband, Lee Heist and their now 19-year-old daughter got the call from Schofield, they were certain that he would be notifying them that her death had been confirmed. Although some missing persons cases are the result of the person simply walking off, Heist had not seemed like a likely candidate for such a scenario.
Since foul play was the leading assumption in Heist's disappearance, many suspected that her ex-husband had something to do with it. Although he was cleared after a period of intense scrutiny and investigation, rumors and doubt about his innocence continued to persist. "There were people in the neighborhood who would not allow their children to play with my children," he said.
Both Heist and the children she left behind are interested in working towards a reunion, but such a meeting could be a long time coming. Lee Heist has stated that he has no problem with his ex-wife reuniting with their children.
According to Schofield, Heist will spend time with her brother in Florida upon her release before going to live with her mother in Texas.