Missing Lititz woman, assumed dead, turns up in Florida 11 years later

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On February 8th, 2002, Brenda Heist, of Lititz, dropped her young children off at school at 7:30 in the morning. She wasn’t seen or heard from since. Her husband reported her as missing. An extensive investigation came to naught.

In the ensuing years,  the Lancaster County Major Crimes Unit took up the case, which again went cold. Her children went to college. Her husband began the process to have Brenda Heist declared legally deceased.

Brenda Heist

And then, she turned up. In Key Largo, Florida on April 27th.  A Lititz detective flew to Florida and interviewed Heist. She told police she joined a group of homeless people and hitch-hiked to Florida. She has since lived as a homeless person, sleeping under bridges and tents and eating food thrown away by local fast food restaurants.

Police have scheduled a press conference for today and FOX43 News will have a complete report tonight at 6pm.


  • Mary

    Is she crazy? Why in the world would someone want to be homeless when she had a home and children to raise. Did she once think about what it would do to her children? What a selfish act.

  • drsuds

    You do have to wonder. I would be curious to hear the whole story on this but, this is one of those things where you will only get partial truths if any at all. Why someone in their right mind would up and leave her family to become a homeless person is baffling to say the least. There is a lot more to this story and mental health will probably come into it somewhere.

  • Hue Jass

    Looks like she's lived off chemicals the last 11 years, not food. I'd never let that person step foot back in my house again. She'd scare me!

  • Darly

    It was reported that they can't charge her with anything illegal. Think of all the police man hours that were wasted looking for her all those years ago. Imagine the life her husband and children were left to deal with in the wake of her "disappearance". So sad that folks thought her soon-to-be ex was responsible for her disappearance, and would not allow their children to associate with their children. I hope they are feeling so guilty since the truth came out. They are poor excuses for human beings. So very sad. Hopefully, she never crosses the border into PA again, and goes to live with her parents in Texas. They raised her, let them deal with her issues.

    • Esco

      From the looks of her she took alot of punishment, self inflicted I may add. Throwing her in jail would be rewarding her with free rent and meals.

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