Heist returns to jail in Florida Turns herself in on probation violation
BY CINDY STAUFFER, Staff Writer
Former missing Lititz mom Brenda Heist is back in jail in Florida on a probation violation charge.
Heist apparently knew she was wanted on the charge, as she went to the Alachua County Jail in Gainesville at about 5:30 p.m. Friday.
"She turned herself in," Alachua County spokesman Art Forgey said Saturday.
Heist, 54, was booked as Kelsei Lyanne Smith, the name she has been living under in Florida and the name that was on the warrant for her arrest on the parole violation.
Authorities know her actual name but this allowed them to do the paperwork, and she will be covered under both that name and her actual name, a jail booking supervisor said.
Heist was wanted for violating her parole in Santa Rosa County, about 300 miles northwest of Gainesville. Both cities are in northern Florida.
Heist had been arrested, and served two months in jail in Santa Rosa earlier this year, for stealing a woman's driver's license.
Santa Rosa County Deputy Rich Aloy said Heist was wanted on four violations: failure to report to her parole officer, changing her address without obtaining consent, giving a false name when she was booked on the original charge, and failing to comply with other instructions.
She was scheduled to have her first court appearance on the parole violation Saturday. She is expected to be extradited back to Santa Rosa late this week, Aloy said.
Heist has a brother in Gainesville. The brother and Heist's mother, of Texas, picked up Heist in Key West after she turned herself into police there a week ago Friday, telling them she was missing from Pennsylvania, a Lititz police detective said.
Heist told the detective that she had been living as a homeless person in Key West, living under bridges and in tents, scrounging food and panhandling.
But numerous people came forward last week to say that, at least in recent years, Heist was living a better life than she indicated. They said she cleaned houses and did bookkeeping for cash, as she moved from place to place throughout Florida, sunning herself and dating.
Her beach-bum lifestyle came to an end after she stole the driver's license from a housekeeping client in Santa Rosa County last year.
She fled that area and was picked up on traffic and marijuana charges in central Florida in January. She gave police a false name and initially was booked under the name "Jane Doe."
Her housemate at the time said she found the names, addresses and Social Security numbers of several women, as well as a former car title belonging to another woman, in Heist's room after the arrest.
Heist was transported back to Santa Rosa, where she served the time in jail. Then the former housemate said Heist took a bus to central Florida, picked up her car and left.
Two days later, Heist turned herself into police in Key West.
Heist told many people in Florida that she was a widow who had no children and whose parents were dead.
In the meantime, her mother, former husband and two children, who were 8 and 12 at the time of her disappearance in 2002, all wondered what had happened to her.
Police here continued to investigate her disappearance for 11 years, thinking something bad had happened to her.
Her children both said last week that they have no desire to see their mother at this time.