Friday, May 3, 2013

Stranger than fiction, or, how to fake your own death for eleven years

Every once in awhile I get an assignment that is truly bizarre. In this case, I've been working for Inside Edition on a story about that Pennsylvania woman who disappeared eleven years ago and was presumed dead until she turned up in Florida.

Turns out going off the grid is as easy as writing a novel.

In this case, Brenda Heist (and you gotta love the irony of the last name) simply re-invented herself as a cleaning woman in Pensacola, Florida. Yesterday we spent a lot of time with one of her clients, a kind-hearted woman named Sondra who took her in when she said she needed to get out of an abusive relationship. She said her name was Lovie Smith (yeah, same name as the Chicago Bears coach, but Sondra didn't follow football.) She paid everything in cash, bought cars with cash, covered her tracks, developed trust with clients in the community. Even though she left a husband and children behind she told Sondra she was a widow and had no kids. Sondra became close friends with her and had no inkling she was being conned.

This is a wild story and if you get a chance check it out on Thursday's episode of Inside Edition. I'll post the link here after it airs.

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