Brenda Heist, who vanished mysteriously from Lititz, Pennsylvania back in 2002, has been found in Florida, alive if not well. This is going to be really complicated because, erm, she was declared legally dead back in 2009. So now she’s going to have to make herself un-dead somehow (and not in the supernatural way). I have no idea how a person goes about reversing the judgement if they were mistakenly declared dead.

It was one of those “dedicated mom who wouldn’t have left her kids” cases. But it seems that is what she did. It seems she’s been living off the grid all this time, homeless.

If I were her family or one of her children, I don’t know whether I would want to hug her and never let go, or smack her upside the head.

27 thoughts on “Whoops…

  1. kking181 May 1, 2013 / 1:08 pm

    Oh my gosh, the before and after photos…. That’s amazing that she voluntarily left to join a bunch of homeless people. The stress of her divorce must have really really gotten to her…

    • Meaghan May 1, 2013 / 1:11 pm

      Yeah, I find myself torn between “you abandoned your children!” and “what were you running from, that was so bad you would prefer to be homeless for ten years?”

  2. Abra May 1, 2013 / 1:19 pm

    She did am impressive job of disappearing…leaving the pork chops out and everything. It would be very interesting to know what she was thinking.

  3. Lisa May 1, 2013 / 2:51 pm

    I want to know who never leaves home without an eyebrow pencil!

  4. Princess Shantae May 1, 2013 / 3:13 pm

    Loosey, you got some spllainin to do.
    That’s just crummy to do that and let people think you’d been killed and the police waste all this effort trying to find out who did you in. What if they’d picked up poor stupid person who couldn’t account for where he was or was crazy and confessed?
    Selfish selfish selfish.

    • Meaghan May 1, 2013 / 7:16 pm

      Perhaps she suffers from mental illness. That would go a long way towards explaining her actions. But we’ll probably never know her story.

      • Abra May 1, 2013 / 7:52 pm

        I agree she does have a mental illness, but I don’t think it was that severe when she first disappeared because she planned it out really well. She went to a lot of effort to make a judge declare her deceased and was smart to completely vanish until she wanted to come back. I can’t even to speculate what us wrong with her mentally. I wonder if she was being treated for anything when she disappeared.
        For that matter (and I am not a conspiracy theorist) if they tested her DNA to make sure it’s really her. The difference is startling though she has been on the streets so it is possible.

      • Meaghan May 1, 2013 / 7:57 pm

        People with severe mental illness can still pull off elaborate plans, even if they’re psychotic. A lot of times it’s thinking in a calm, logical manner planning to do something that’s completely NOT logical.

        It seems unlikely that she even knew she’d been declared dead. If she knew and was waiting for it, why show up now, several years after the fact?

  5. Crystal May 1, 2013 / 5:27 pm

    I know she had to draw on her eyebrows but the little detail about never leaving behind her eyebrow pencil got a grim giggle out of me!

    • Briana May 1, 2013 / 5:52 pm

      As well as William Richard Bradford please add that 2

      • Meaghan May 1, 2013 / 7:13 pm

        I can do that, but please send such matters by email in the future and not in the comments section.

  6. Abra May 1, 2013 / 10:04 pm

    Who knows what she was thinking? I’m a psychiatric RN in a crisis stabilization unit. The psychotic patients that I have dealt with have been too disorganized to pull off something so elaborate, but psychosis is different in everyone so maybe you are right. I would like to know why she choose to come back now.

    • Meaghan May 2, 2013 / 1:55 am

      I think a good example would be Jared Lee Loughner, who was able to pull off an impressive mass shooting that took a great deal of planning. The guy’s batshit crazy. I have read in news accounts that, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, he still thinks he killed Gabrielle Giffords.

  7. marycarney May 2, 2013 / 12:53 am

    My vote (as someone whose own mother voluntarily disappeared leaving behind FIVE kids) – is for ‘smack upside the head’. Thanks

  8. Melissa Kent May 2, 2013 / 4:49 am

    This case just goes to show that when people “she’d never leave her kids”, it has to be taken with a grain of salt. Under stressful circumstances, people can do anything. I am always a bit cynical when I read about people saying that; it’s almost as though the person saying that is trying to make the disappearance more serious or urgent or something; when in reality, no one can predict what any other person can or would do with any degree of reliability. This is coming from someone who specialises in understanding human behaviour!!

    • Meaghan May 2, 2013 / 5:10 am

      Well, I don’t think a missing woman’s family would want to say openly “she wasn’t a good mother/didn’t seem to care for her children/is irresponsible and I can see the possibility that she could have just up and abandoned them.” Because, let’s face it, that’s a pretty horrible thing to say in this society (and most other cultures as well).

      Barring a few extreme circumstances, I really don’t have any respect for any person, man or woman, who walks out on their kids.

  9. nvrsurprised May 2, 2013 / 1:03 pm

    Have you had any other cases where the person was declared legally dead only to be found alive later?

    • Meaghan May 2, 2013 / 1:12 pm

      Not in the past hundred years or so, no.

  10. reliantrobin May 2, 2013 / 9:52 pm

    I saw something about this on my local news broadcast! It was during my NBC affiliate’s hour-long 6:00 PM broadcast, the second half to be more precise, during their national news roundup. I remember hearing something about how this woman’s daughter isn’t welcoming her mother’s emerging from the shadows and regrets every single tear she shed when she thought her mom was long gone. Apparently her kids would’ve rather never seen their mother alive again than being misled into thinking their mom was probably lying dead somewhere in some remote burial site. So I don’t think this woman’s going to be thrown any “welcome home” parties by anyone.

    • Meaghan May 2, 2013 / 10:02 pm

      That’s very sad but I can’t say that I blame them. Maybe they’ll cool off a few weeks or months or years down the road, and reconcile.

  11. marycarney May 2, 2013 / 10:25 pm

    Didn’t Olivia Newton-John’s boyfriend fake his own death? And get found out? Or am I hallucinating…..

    • Meaghan May 2, 2013 / 11:16 pm

      He did, but I don’t think he was declared legally dead.

    • Meaghan May 5, 2013 / 7:23 am

      I don’t think that’s really the same, though, since Darwin and his wife were conspiring together to make him look dead. Brenda Heist’s family, and indeed everyone else she knew, had no idea where she was all this time.

    • Meaghan May 5, 2013 / 9:22 am

      I had thought she was already en route to Texas to live with her mom. Maybe her mom decided she didn’t want to see her.

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