Police searched for her for years, at one point creating a cold case task force. Her family remain angry over the pain her disappearance caused.
"I don't think she deserves to see me," her 20-year-old daughter Morgan Heist told CNN's "Piers Morgan Live" on Thursday night. "I don't really have any plans on going to see her."
The fact that her mother -- who she last saw when she was 8 -- never even called has left her seething, Morgan Heist said.
The anger is captured in a post on the daughter's Twitter page that reads she hopes her mother "rots in hell."
"That makes me really mad," Morgan Heist said. "I can't believe she would do that because she was a good mom. She was great. But, I mean, I guess something happened. Something snapped in her. "
Her father, Lee Heist, said he is not planning on visiting his ex-wife anytime soon.
They were going through a divorce at the time she disappeared, and he was treated for a time as a suspect in her disappearance, though he was eventually cleared.
In 2010, he filed a petition with the county court to have Brenda declared legally deceased, according to a Lititz police news release. He was seeking closure, he said.
"I don't see where it would do any good for either of us to see her again," Lee Heist said.
He later remarried and said he will learn to forgive his former wife.
But for Morgan Heist, forgiving her mom may not be easy.
"I hope to eventually forgive her one day for myself, not for her," she said.
Left on a whim
Brenda Heist vanished in February 2002 after last being seen dropping off her children at school.
She was applying for housing assistance so that she could get an apartment after the breakdown of her marriage. She worked as a bookkeeper for a car dealer and hoped to receive some financial aid.
However, her request was denied, police said.
"She was very upset, she was sitting in a park crying, thinking about how she would raise her children, feeling sorry for herself," said Sgt. John Schofield, a Lititz Borough, Pennsylvania, police detective. He was one of the many officers who searched for Heist.
By her account, it wasn't long before she was approached by two men and a woman who asked her what was wrong. After she told them what had happened, they invited her to hitchhike with them down to Florida.
"At a whim, she decided at that very moment, she would go along with them," Schofield said.
Schofield spoke to Heist at length after she turned herself in.
"She was very emotional; she hung her head; she's ashamed. She was crying when I met with her. She knows what she did was completely wrong, but all that while, she'd never made one effort to call or contact her family at all," Schofield said.
Heist told police she spent the first two years homeless, living under bridges, eating food thrown out by restaurants after they closed.
For the next seven years, she lived in a camper with a man she had met. They made money as day laborers, cleaning boats and doing other odd jobs for which they didn't have to show ID and were paid in cash.
After that relationship soured, Schofield said, she said she lived on the street again for another two years.
But the revelations made by Forrester raise new questions over the truth of Heist's account.