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Jailed: Mum Who Was Declared Dead After Going Missing For 11 Years

14/08/2014 16:50 | Updated 22 May 2015

Jailed: Mum who was declared dead after going missing for 11 years

A mum who turned up safe and well after being legally declared dead will spend a year in jail on a probation violation.

Brenda Heist, from Lititz, Pennsylvania, disappeared for 11 years 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.

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 be found, she was declared dead in 2010 and her ex-husband Lee cashed in her life insurance policy.

But in April, the 54-year-old handed herself in to a police station in Key Largo and told officers she had initially travelled to Florida on a whim, and had been sleeping under bridges, begging and scavenging for food.

This week, Ms Heist, who is known in the court system under the alias Kelsie Smith, was charged with failing to check in with authorities after she was release from jail for forgery. She had been on probation for using someone else's identification during a traffic stop, the Pensacola News Journal reported.

The one-year jail sentence stems from a February 15 arrest for using an identification card during a traffic stop, which Heist had stolen from a resident whose house she cleaned.

After she resurfaced, friends spoke of their shock at discovering who she actually was and lifted the lid on her runaway life which was far less tragic than she has made out.

For a time she lived happily in Florida, making money as a cleaner and bookkeeper and living with friends.

Pictures revealed her drinking, swimming and tanning with her new acquaintances to whom she never told her real story.

"We're learning now that life wasn't so bad for her in some of her friend's eyes, that are calling us today," said Detective Sergeant Schofield.

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