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Mom says woman found after 11 years is doing OK

By Mark Scolforo

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, May 2 2013 11:28 a.m. MDT

Sitting in front of a display of news articles and photos of Brenda Heist, from left, her ex-husband, Lee Heist, Detective Sgt. John Schofield and Lititz Chief William Seace address a news conference in Litiz, Pa. on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. Brenda Heist, who mysteriously disappeared after dropping off her children for school 11 years ago, has surfaced in Florida, telling police she traveled there on a whim with homeless hitchhikers, slept under bridges and survived by scavenging food and panhandling, authorities said Wednesday.

Intelligencer Journal, Dan Marschka, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The mother of a woman who surfaced 11 years after disappearing and leaving behind her young children says her daughter is doing OK but "had a real traumatic time."

Jean Copenhaver, of Brenham, Texas, spoke to The Associated Press on Thursday about her 54-year-old daughter, Brenda Heist.

Copenhaver says she's spoken with Heist several times since Friday, when her daughter turned herself in to police in Florida and was identified as a missing person.

Copenhaver says Heist plans to live with her, but for now she's staying with a brother in northern Florida.

Heist told police she made a spur-of-the-moment decision in 2002 to join a group of homeless hitchhikers on their way to Florida, walking out on her 8-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son.

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