Missing since 2002, Lititz woman turns herself in

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A Lancaster County woman who was declared dead in 2010, is found alive in Florida.

Lititz Borough Police say Brenda Heist went missing in 2002.  On Friday, she turns herself into authorities in Key Largo, after an extensive search for her turned cold.

For years, Lee Heist, of Lititz, has lived his life thinking his once wife was dead.

Lee says, “There’s a difference between forgiveness and forgetting and I forgave her many years ago.”

Lee says he’ll never forget Brenda’s cold case.  She vanished in February 2002, leaving behind Lee and their son and daughter.

Brenda’s picture was seen on Missing Persons databases throughout the country.  Then, in 2010, police granted Lee a petition to declare Brenda legally deceased.

Lee says, “I’ve moved on with my life.  We’re happy, kids are doing much better.”

But on Friday, the once “missing” and assumed “deceased” woman turns herself in.

Lititz Borough Detective Sergeant, John Schofield says, “She looked as if she let herself go and not caring for herself.”

Schofield says Brenda chose a homeless lifestyle since her 30 day hitch hike to Key West 11 years ago.

Schofield says, “She slept under bridges, tents, woods, eat by going to restaurants and get food they were throwing away.”

Schofield explains why she left her family.  “On that Friday she disappeared, she was applying for housing assistance to live on her own with her children do to an amicable divorce between her and her husband.”

Even with a sense of closure, Lee says the painful memory remains.

Lee says, “There were people who didn’t allow their children to play with mine because of what they perceived I may be…and that hurt me more than anything else.”

Lee has since remarried.  Brenda is not facing charged for disappearing, but police are still investigating.  Eventually, she’ll be moving to Texas to live with her parents.


  • Marlene

    WOW…….Why would she do that? If the divorce was amicable, then what was she running from? I cannot imagine living like that for all these years.

  • Ted

    The only thing that she is guilty of is a banding her kids she should be ashame of her self there is people out there that can't have kids and she just leaves hers people are so selfish

  • MyTakeOnIt

    Can't judge the woman until you've walked in her shoes. She left the kids with their dad and had enough faith in that no matter what was tormenting her inside.

    Look at it this way. Plenty of dads disappear from their children in the same manner. In fact, you couldn't possibly count the number because much is undocumented. Is this such a shocker because it was a female or because it was a marriage, too?

  • average mom

    stop passing judgment on the woman post a comment doesn't mean pass judgments. hopefully she can be forgiven and live her life peacefully now and I hope the children are emotionally ok as well

  • yo mamma

    due to an amicable divorce, not "do to"
    for all the world to listen to these vulture reporters and their side of the story and the idiots cant even spell – a huge part of their "profession"
    There are no words to describe that level of stupidity

  • Ms T

    I pray that the breakdown that she suffered to make her up and leave her family behind never happens to me, for we all go through situations that we say we will do one thing or resolve a certain way, but when the situation hits front and center you can never say what you will or will not do. She has come forward now and prayerfully they will find peace.

  • whateva

    she left because she never wanted that life anyway, so when the marriage got rough it made it that much easier for her to leave…..shes been gone too long for it to be any other reason… shame on her for leaving them kids like that….tsk tsk tsk…

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