Exclusive: Son of Lancaster County Runaway Mom Speaks Out About Her Disappearance
by Todd Quinones
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Eyewitness News confirmed Brenda Heist was in trouble with the law in Florida.
She used at least three different aliases including Lovie Smith.
She was convicted of forgery and is also facing additional charges in connection to theft and forgery.
All of this sounds like a completely different person to her son who remembers his mom as being a normal, happy person.
“I hope she would feel terrible to be honest, feel terrible for what she did to the family,” Lee Heist said.
Lee Heist didn’t hold back.
The resentment he has for his mom Brenda Heist runs deep.
He was just 12-years-old when his mom vanished. He believed she was killed, the victim of perhaps a violent carjacking.
When she suddenly remerged in Key Largo on Friday, 11 years later, he was stunned.
“I would hope she would see what I’ve done with my life despite what she did,” Heist said.
Lititz Detective Sergeant John Schofield is the lead investigator in her disappearance.
He was told over and over Brenda was not the type to walk away from her two young children.
“I feared something terrible happened to her back on that day she went missing. I really did,” Det. Schofield said.
Heist is said to be staying with a brother in Florida for now, and will eventually go stay with her mom Jean Copenhaver in Texas.
When asked why her daughter abandoned her family, Copenhaver told the Associated Press, “She just needs time to recover, and have some peace and that. She’ll tell us when she’s ready.”
Lee doesn’t plan on talking to his mom right away. But months down the line – he does have a question he wants answered.
“Why would you leave? You have two children. Because, that was the biggest shock leaving two children. She showed no signs of ever doing that. It wasn’t in her character,” heist said.
This summer Lee is entering the police academy because in part he had hoped to become a detective and to one day look into his mom’s case.
Brenda Heist has told police she left home and entered a drifter lifestyle because of financial concerns and a pending divorce.