Missing Pa. woman leaves Alachua Co. jail after brief stay

Published: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 5:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 5:12 p.m.

The Pennsylvania woman who authorities said abandoned her family 11 years ago before showing up last week in the Florida Keys has left the Alachua County jail following a short stay.

Brenda Heist, 54, walked into the jail just after 5:30 p.m. Friday to surrender on a warrant out of Santa Rosa County, where she is wanted on a charge of violation of probation stemming from forgery and providing a false name to law enforcement.

She left the jail at 10:17 p.m. Monday for transfer to Santa Rosa County, said Alachua County sheriff’s spokesman Art Forgey.

It is unclear how and why Heist ended up in Alachua County, though Forgey said she listed her address as homeless when she was booked into the jail.

Recent reports have speculated that Heist was living with a brother in North Florida.

Heist was declared legally dead in 2010, eight years after mysteriously disappearing from her central Pennsylvania home in 2002 after dropping off her children for school.

On April 26, Heist surrendered to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office in the Florida Keys, saying she was tired of running. She traveled to Florida on a whim with homeless hitchhikers, she told Monroe County authorities, slept under bridges and survived by scavenging food and panhandling.

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