"Missing" Mom's Family Lashes Out
A woman’s family thought she was dead after she went missing 11 years ago. Now, she has resurfaced, claiming she was living as a homeless person for over a decade in Florida. INSIDE EDITION speaks to the woman’s daughter.
An angry daughter lashes out at her mother who disappeared without a trace 11 years ago.
"You deserve to rot in hell for what you have done to me," she tweeted.
"I hate what she did to me," she said.
Everyone thought 54-year-old Brenda Heist was dead until a photo was taken by police in Florida after she turned herself in last week, claiming she was living under a bridge and eating out of dumpsters.
Her 19-year-old daughter, Morgan, and husband, Lee, were thunderstruck by the shocking turn of events.
"He said they found your mom and she admitted she left. And I started crying," she said.
Brenda disappeared from the picturesque town of Lititz, Pennsylvania, in February of 2002. The family lived in a comfortable house.
Brenda dropped then eight-year-old Morgan and her 12-year-old brother, Lee Jr., off at school one morning, then was never seen again.
Detective John Schofield showed us the evidence he gathered in the case and said Brenda's family went through hell.
"I know what her children were going through, I know the times that her daughter cried to me in her office. I know the things a little girl needs her mother for as they're growing up," he said.
At first suspicion fell on her husband. Even after he was cleared, he said his neighbors didn't want anything to do with him.
"Some of them just thought it was dangerous to be around me because I was a murderer," Lee said.
Eleven years passed, and Brenda was declared legally dead. Lee remarried, but then their world was turned upside down when Brenda came forward.
She told detective Schofield she finally turned herself in because she couldn't take her homeless life anymore.
"She told me immediately she knows her family is not going to want to see her or talk to her, and she doesn't blame them," Schofield said.
But there's yet another twist to this shocking story. Photos have surfaced of Brenda in the sunshine state, on the beach, swimming in the water, and enjoying the good life.
One woman said she was friends with Brenda, but knew her by another name, Lovie Smith.
"I know where she was since 2010 and she hasn't been in a tent. We woke up everyday and having coffee by the pool," she said.
Sondra Forrester said Brenda worked as her housekeeper in Pensacola. Others are saying that Brenda's tale of homeless woe is a lie. A mugshot taken in January after she was arrested on drug possession charges shows her under yet another assumed name, Kelsie Smith.
"I think that she's a really good con artist," she said.
INSIDE EDITION's Les Trent showed the photos of Brenda on the beach in Florida to her son, Lee Jr. It was the first time he's seen them since he got the news his mom is alive.
"Why? I never would have expected this," he said.
Daughter Morgan said the mom who abandoned them can rot in hell. "I do have hate. I hate what she did to me," she said.
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