Runaway Mom Finds a Home in Jail

A mother who disappeared from her Pennsylvania home more than a decade ago and was later declared legally dead before resurfacing in Florida this year has been sent to jail on a probation violation.

The Pensacola News Journal reports that Brenda Heist, who's known in the Santa Rosa County court system as Kelsie Smith, was sentenced Tuesday to a year in jail.

She pleaded no contest to failing to check in with authorities in the Tampa area after leaving the Pensacola area following her April release from jail. She'd been on probation for using someone else's identification during a traffic stop.

Heist left behind a husband and two children when she disappeared from her home outside Lititz, Pa., in February 2002. She turned herself in to deputies in Monroe County, Fla., in April and revealed she was a missing person.

Heist’s daughter Morgan Heist spoke about the pain caused by her mother’s disappearance.

"I ached every birthday, every Christmas," said 19-year-old Morgan Heist, a freshman at a community college outside Philadelphia. "My heart just ached. I wasn't mad at her. I wanted her to be there because I thought something had happened to her. I wish I had never cried."

Morgan’s father Lee Heist hoped his ex-wife would get better.

"Based on what I've seen and heard, I just wish that she'll get well, whatever the problems are and I hope she'll be able to go on with her life," said Lee Heist.

Brenda Heist was on probation in the Florida Panhandle for using someone else's identification during a traffic stop.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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