Advertisement
 
Monday, March 30, 2015
Amsterdam, NY ,

The Associated Press Sitting in front of a display of news articles and photos of Brenda Heist, from left, her ex-husband, Lee Heist, Detective Sgt. John Schofield and Lititz Chief William Seace address a news conference in Litiz, Pa., on Wednesday. Brenda Heist, who mysteriously disappeared after dropping off her children for school 11 years ago, has surfaced in Florida, telling police she traveled there on a whim with homeless hitchhikers, slept under bridges and survived by scavenging food and panhandling.

Advertisement

Mother says woman found after 11 years is doing OK

Thursday, May 02, 2013 - Updated: 3:31 PM

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- A woman who surfaced 11 years after disappearing and leaving behind her young children is doing OK but "had a real traumatic time," her mother said Thursday.

Brenda Heist was released from police custody on Wednesday and is staying with a brother in northern Florida for now, Jean Copenhaver, of Brenham, Texas, told The Associated Press.

Copenhaver said she had spoken with Heist several times since Friday, when her 54-year-old daughter turned herself in to police in Florida and was identified as a missing person.

"She just said she thought the family wouldn't want to talk to her because of her leaving," Copenhaver said. "And we all assured her that wasn't the case and we all loved her and wanted to be with her."

Heist told police she made a spur-of-the-moment decision in 2002 to join a group of homeless hitchhikers on their way to Florida, walking out on her 8-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son.

She had been going through an amicable divorce when she learned she had been denied housing support, police said. She was crying about that in a Lancaster park when three strangers befriended her and offered to let her join them. She told police that she slept under bridges and survived by scavenging food from restaurant trash and panhandling.

Copenhaver said she has not pressed her daughter about what led her to walk away from the life she knew in Pennsylvania and then live underground for more than a decade.

"We haven't gone into that with her," Copenhaver said. "She just needs time to recover, and have some peace and that. She'll tell us when she's ready."

Heist told police she contacted them after feeling like she was at the end of her rope and tired of running.

"She's doing OK," Copenhaver said. "She's got a long way to go. She had a real traumatic time, but she's doing OK."

She said Heist was born in South Carolina, then moved as her father was transferred by the Air Force to Italy and Missouri before ending up in San Antonio, where she graduated from high school.

When she vanished, her husband, Lee Heist, was investigated but was cleared as a suspect.

He raised the children without her -- one is in college, the other a recent college graduate -- and got the courts to declare her legally dead.

He has since remarried.

     

Comments made about this article - 0 Total

Comment on this article

Advertisement
The Recorder Sports Schedule

 

The Recorder Newscast

Most Popular

    New York state Senate again backs legalization of mixed martial arts
    Wednesday, March 25, 2015

    Sheriff's office investigating foreclosure company
    Wednesday, March 25, 2015

    Michael T. Bintz
    Thursday, March 26, 2015

    Benefit scheduled Sunday For second time in five years, local family loses home to fire
    Wednesday, March 25, 2015

    Local singer makes it to the next round
    Tuesday, March 24, 2015

    Best friends in life playing best friends in a high school musical
    Thursday, March 26, 2015

    Amsterdam native's wife endorsed for Nevada Senate post
    Saturday, March 28, 2015

    F-FCS athletes Board eyeing tougher rules
    Friday, March 27, 2015

    Man burned by vehicle fire
    Saturday, March 28, 2015

    YMCA is fighting an uphill financial battle
    Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Advertisement

Copyright © Port Jackson Media

Privacy Policies: The Recorder

Contact Us

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook