From Legally Dead to Alive and Well, The Infamous Case of Brenda Heist Episode – From Legally Dead to Living as a Vagrant – The Brenda Heist Files Episode – The Mysterious Disappearance and Sudden Reemergence of Brenda Heist Episode – Return from the Dead, The Brenda Heist Story

56m | Feb 27, 2023

In this week’s episode of Housewives of True Crime, Tabitha and Gretchen discuss the case of Laura Heist of Lititz, Pennsylvania. This case is truly unique. There is no murder. No foul play. Yet it garnered so much attention that Dr. Phil got involved. 

“I know that it’s called Letitz, but I like to say little tits. Lil Tits, sounds like a rapper.” Gretchen – (07:41)

On February 8, 2002, Brenda simply disappeared after dropping her kids off to school. Within days, Brenda’s friends and family were contacted and the police issued a ‘be on the lookout’ for her. Lee was even regarded as a suspect in the sudden disappearance and had to take a polygraph to clear himself. A $5000 reward was announced for any news that would lead up to her. Despite all that, no solid leads turned up.

“Brenda might be a bad Brenda. Brenda might be a Karen.” Tabitha (12:20)

Finally, 7 years after Brenda was declared legally dead and 11 years after the disappearance, a breakthrough occurs – Brenda is found alive, living as a vagrant in Florida. This discovery occurred when she was arrested for narcotics and false ID. She had met another man and had even vacationed with him to the Caribbean. However, after that relationship ended, she went into a life of cleaning houses, stealing IDs and smoking marijuana, never once thinking about her 2 kids. 

Eventually she realized she had had enough and went into a police station to confess her true identity. When news of this came out, it garnered so much media attention that even Dr. Phil went to see her in prison. She is currently living under care at a facility in Texas.

This case is a difficult one for Gretchen and Tabitha. Join them in today’s podcast as they debate what mother would just abandon her children and vanish for 11 years. They also talk about the possibility of Brenda and her children, now adults, reuniting, and what happened to the $100,000 life insurance policy that was paid out to her husband Lee after Brenda was declared legally dead. This is one episode you don’t want to miss. Watch it now on Housewives of True Crime.

In This Episode:

  • (05:53) – Gretchen and Tabitha talk about the case of the day, Brenda Heist.
  • (06:30) – Discussing the name ‘Lee’ and how uncommon it is today.
  • (07:30) – Making fun of the city name Lititz, Pennsylvania.
  • (08:45) – Brenda and husband Lee separate after 20 years of marriage.
  • (11:45) – Talking about porkchops and segway to the 3-part Elvis episode.
  • (14:21) – Children coming home from school to find Brenda missing.
  • (15:40) – Lee takes a polygraph, loses his job, and sells his home.
  • (20:00) – On Brenda being declared legally dead after 7 years.  
  • (22:20) – Breakthrough! Brenda found alive from Key Largo, Florida after 11 years.
  • (25:30) – How Brenda ended up in Florida as a vagrant, and eventually turned herself in.
  • (28:30) – Lee and Brenda’s daughter learn Brenda is alive.
  • (30:23) – Discussing new twists in the case and Brenda’s activities.
  • (31:03) – On Brenda meeting Jim Steward at Outback Steakhouse.
  • (33:15) – On Brenda vacationing in the Caribbean and touring the countryside.
  • (34:53) – How the relationship with Jim ended.
  • (37:29) – Brenda becomes a nanny and house cleaner.
  • (39:00) – Talking about Brenda’s social interactions, stealing IDs, and numerous arrests.
  • (47:37) – Getting arrested for false identification and carrying marijuana. 
  • (48:50) – On Brenda’s turning herself in and giving them her true identify.
  • (51:06) – Dr. Phil goes to prison to meet Brenda.
  • (52:19) – Discussing Brenda pleading for forgiveness with her kids.
  • (54:30) – How her kids feel and whether they will reunite at some point.
  • (55:15) – Brenda reunites with her mother.
  • (55:20) – What is Brenda doing now.
  • (56:45) – What happened with the insurance money Lee collected.

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