A mum who was legally declared dead after going missing 11 years ago has turned up safe and well.
Brenda Heist, from Lititz, Pennsylvania, disappeared after dropping her children off at school in 2002. She had left an evening meal defrosting for them, and was half way through doing the family's laundry.
The Independent reports that Ms Heist was in the midst of an 'amicable divorce' when she took off. She was said to have been seen weeping in a car park on the day she went missing, before hooking up with three homeless people and hitch-hiking to Florida.
After no trace of her could subsequently be found, she was declared dead in 2010 and her ex-husband Lee cashed in her life insurance policy.
Ms Heist, now 54, handed herself in to a police station in Key Largo last weekend, and told officers she had initially travelled to Florida on a whim, and had been sleeping under bridges, begging and scavenging for food. She said she had been homeless for two years and her most recent accommodation has been a tented community run by a social services.
Detective John Schofield told reporters that Ms Heist was 'tired of running' and was 'at the end of her rope'.
"She has a birth certificate and a death certificate, so she's got a long way to make this right again," he said. "She's got to take it slow with her family, I'm sure, and it's going to be a long process."
Her husband Lee – who had been under suspicion when his wife first went missing - told a news conference yesterday that he was still angry with her and the effect her disappearance had had on their children.
"There were people in the neighbourhood who would not allow their children to play with my children." he said.