Dr. Phil: Brenda Heist, Runaway Mom, Breaks Silence And Tells It All


Dr. Phil: Brenda Heist Goes Off The Grid In Key West For 11 Years

Dr. Phil went to the Santa Rosa County Jail to talk to Brenda Heist, the mother who disappeared in 2002 after dropping her children off at school one day. Her family thought she was dead or kidnapped. Her husband was even suspected to have hired a hit man to kill Brenda. As it turns out, though, Brenda had hitchhiked her way to Key West, Florida, created several fake aliases, and lived as a vagrant right under everyone’s noses.

In reaction, her husband is angry not for himself, but for their children, whom were not allowed to play with other children after he was named a suspect in Brenda’s disappearance. Brenda’s children were eight (Morgan) and 12 (Lee) when she left, and they are not too happy with her. Morgan said that she can “rot in hell,” and Lee was none too pleased with her decade-long disappearance, either.


Dr. Phil: Why Did Brenda Heist Leave?

Dr. Phil: Brenda Heist, Runaway Mom, Breaks Silence And Tells It All

After missing for a 11 years, Brenda Heist came out of hiding.

Brenda Heist’s family was growing apart. Their financial state wasn’t too great. These things motivated Brenda to get up and leave her family behind. However, it was not her intention at the time for this to be a permanent arrangement. She only left to try and find assistance for housing after the divorce between her and her husband went through.

She was going to have primary custody of the children, and needed a place for them to stay. However, not only did she get turned down for assisted living, she also got turned down for a raise she asked for at her accounting job that she would use to support her and her two children. With all of these things stacking up, she just cracked.


Dr. Phil: The Day Of Brenda Heist’s Disappearance

Brenda left her life on a Friday afternoon. Walking through a park crying about the direction her life was going in, Brenda sat down on a park bench. While she was there, she was approached by two homeless people who were trying to get to York and then Florida, and she not only offered them a ride, but took it a step further and asked if she could go with them. Brenda left the car in York rather than drive it all the way down south because it was not her car, but belonged to the dealership for which she worked.

Dr. Phil: Brenda Heist Hitchhikes To Florida

With no car, the group hitchhiked all the way to Florida, staying in homeless camps that the homeless men knew about along the way. It took them about two weeks to get to Florida, and at no point during this journey did she decide to contact her children or husband. She thought it would be better if she was not there. She thought her husband was a much better person than she could have ever been, and just decided that they would be better off with him.

At the time, she didn’t think that her children would be hurt, but even when she did, it wasn’t enough to change her course. It wasn’t until a few days in that she realized just how much damage she was doing to her family.


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