“They knew that I was there, and I loved them and would take care of them,” he said.
He said his ex-wife and their children have expressed a desire to speak with each other, but for now they are taking things slowly.
Schofield said Brenda Heist was expected to be released from police custody in Florida and was likely to spend some time with a brother in that state before moving in with her mother in Texas.
“She has a birth certificate and a death certificate, so she’s got a long ways to make this right again,” Schofield said. “She’s got to take it slow with her family, I’m sure, and it’s going to be a long process.”
Inside her Lititz home the day she disappeared, dinner was defrosting. Police located her car in a neighboring county, but none of her personal belongings were taken.
When Schofield called recently to meet with her ex-husband and their daughter, they assumed he would be notifying them that Brenda Heist’s remains were found, the detective said.
Lee Heist said he struggled financially after his wife disappeared, quitting his job and losing his home.
“There were people in the neighborhood who would not allow their children to play with my children” because he had been a suspect, he said.
Brenda Heist turned herself in to Monroe County sheriff’s deputies in Key Largo, Fla., on Friday, regarding some outstanding warrants, and then informed them she was a missing person. She had apparently been using a different name and had been homeless for the past two years, most recently living in a tent community run by a social service agency.
“She said she was at the end of her rope, she was tired of running,” Schofield said.
For about seven years she lived with a man in a camper in Key West and worked odd jobs. Schofield said she never had access to a computer and never checked to see if she was being sought, although she assumed she was.
Schofield said police in Florida were trying to sort out the warrants before releasing Heist.