According to this article, citing interviews with people Brenda Heist knew in Florida, she was NOT homeless during the time she was missing, at least not all of the time. She apparently took housekeeping jobs and often lived with her employers. She saved enough money to get a car, and she also had a cell phone and a Facebook page for a time (they were both disconnected eventually), and even dated once in awhile. She said she had no children and her husband had died.
I had actually been skeptical of the whole “homeless for ten straight years” thing myself. Very few people can survive on the street that long, especially women. The reasons I think are pretty obvious. It appears Brenda was on the streets sometimes, perhaps even for months at a time, but certainly not all the time.
Needless to say, the people in Florida who helped her out and thought they knew her feel shocked and betrayed. Though, I’m sure, not as much as her actual family.
(By which I mean, somehow get the “legally dead” declaration reversed. I don’t mean becoming a zombie.)
The BBC has an article about the process. Apparently it’s easier than you might think:
While getting a death certificate for a missing person can be time consuming, reversing it takes considerably less effort – namely, a trip to the courthouse by Heist.
“A court would just rescind it,” says Professor Lee-ford Tritt, director of Estate Planning at University of Florida, who says it would do so quickly once Heist had made an appearance in front of a judge.
The life insurance her husband collected is another issue altogether. Of course the company will be wanting their money back. Brenda Heist has no money and can’t pay them. They might sue her husband, but I wonder if he could get the suit dismissed by simply pointing out that there was no intention to defraud and he was an innocent victim in all of this. The insurance company may just have to eat it.
I feel sorry for all parties involved.
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.