​Runaway Mom Arrested For Stealing Woman’s Identity​​

The runaway mom who left her family in Pennsylvania back in 2002 and spent part of her time hiding out in the Bay Area was arrested again on Friday night, just weeks after being released from jail.

Brenda Heist was taken into custody in Alachua County under the alias of Kelsi Smith for violating parole out of Pensacola for stealing a woman’s driver’s license.

Heist was originally sent to jail following an arrest in Pinellas County for driving with an expired tag and drug possession. During that arrest, the courts learned that Heist, using her “Smith” name, was wanted in Pensacola for stealing the driver’s license and sent her to Santa Rosa County to face charges.

She was released from jail several weeks ago and did not report to her parole officer, which led to an arrest warrant out of Santa Rosa County in the Pensacola area.

Last December, Heist was hired by Joanna Covish of Tarpon Spring as a live-in housekeeper. Covish told 10 News that she double checked “Smith’s” references and she came highly recommended, but now hopes people learn from her mistake.

“I hope that it opens everyone’s eyes to realize that no matter how much you feel so sorry for someone, stay with your first instinct,” said Covish.

Heist, known as the “Runaway Mom,” disappeared after dropping off her children for school 11 years ago. She was located in Florida after traveling there with homeless hitchhikers and sleeping under bridges.