Allentown
59° F
Mostly Cloudy
Mostly Cloudy

Woman who disappeared in 2002 found alive in Fla.

Published On: Apr 30 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: May 01 2013 11:03:02 PM CDT

A Pennsylvania woman who disappeared after dropping off her children for school 11 years ago has been located in Florida, police said Wednesday.

lancaster county. she's been declared dead. so you can imagine her family's surprise when they learned she's been living in florida all this time... >>> jazmin candelario: "why would you do lititz who went missing 11 years ago... after dropping her two young children off at school... has resurfaced. wfmz's dwayne parker is in the newsroom with the details of her disappearance and discovery. dwayne? rob and wendy ... you could say this woman ... in some ways ... has come back from the dead. her own husband declared her legally dead three years ago. so you can imagine the shock when they discovered she was very much ... alive. >> reporter: police say back in february of 2002, brenda heist dropped her kids off at school... and disappeared. 11 years later... this is what brenda looks like today at 53. police say, brenda left it all behind because was overwhelmed about - among other things - a pending divorce with her husband, who was present at a news conference on this day. >> lee heist: yes, it was a shock, but at the time point, too, we've already started planning to move forward.>> reporter: investigators say brenda joined a group of homeless people, hitch-hiking down the east coast... living under bridges, tents, and surviving on scraps of food. eleven years later.. officials say brenda finally turned herself into authorities in key largo, florida, on some outstanding warrants, and informed them she was a missing person. >> det. sgt. john schofield: she told me that, back then she just snapped, it was a whim, and she made a decision after thinking there was no way she could raise her children on her small salary. she as in the middle of a divorce with her husband. >> reporter: brenda's daughter is a sophomore at west chester university.. and her son just applied to the new jersey police academy. >> lee heist: the children, they've just been through so much. at this point heist says he doesn't see any further relationship on the horizon with his wife brenda. meanwhile, police say, brenda will be head back to texas where she will stay with relatives. rob. >>> rob vaughn: a sandwich shop worker in reading is fighting to stay alive