A Pennsylvania woman considered legally dead turned up in Florida after being missing for 11 years. Brenda Heist, also known as Kelsie Smith, will spend a year in jail for a probation violation.
Heist, 53, disappeared from her home Lititz, Pa., in 2002. In 2010, she was declared legally dead. On April 26, she turned herself in to Monroe County sheriff’s deputies in Florida and told them she was a missing person, the Pensacola Journal reports. After her interview, she was released but was later arrested on May 3 for failing to check in with authorities after leaving the area in April.
The mother of two resurfaced after she was arrested in February for stealing a woman’s identification and using it at a traffic stop. She was sentenced to jail and released in April.
In April, she told authorities that she came to Florida from Pennsylvania with a group of homeless hitchhikers. She said they slept under bridges and panhandled for two years before making it to the Sunshine State. Heist said she was in the middle of an amicable divorce when she met the hitchhikers while crying in a park, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
Heist’s children were 8 and 12 years old at the time of her disappearance. Today, they are 19 and 23.
"I ached every birthday, every Christmas," Heist’s daughter, Morgan, 19, a freshman at Montgomery County Community College, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "My heart just ached. I wasn't mad at her. I wanted her to be there, because I thought something had happened to her. I wish I had never cried."
Heist’s ex-husband, Lee, says he’s “ just confused” about Heist’s actions and hope she gets better. "Regardless of whatever she's done, I hope she gets better. I hope she makes peace," he said. "I hope this is the end of the movie."