NORRISTOWN, Pa. - A rail-thin Brenda Heist, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, opened up to Dr. Phil on WFMZ-TV for the first time since vanishing 11 years ago.
The "runaway mom" dropped her children off at school in Lititz, Lancaster Co., in 2002 and never looked back.
"I'm not proud of what I did. I'm ashamed of what I did, and I have a lot of guilt and it's something I'm never going to get over," said an emotional Heist, during the exclusive interview from a Florida jail.
That is the first time Morgan Heist heard her mother's voice since she was a little girl 11 years ago. Her mom missed every birthday, every Christmas and every special occasion.
Morgan spoke exclusively with 69 News after the interview aired Tuesday night.
"I don't want an emotional reunion. I'm not going to go down memory lane with her. I want straight answers. I don't want lies anymore. I just want all answers," said Morgan, who is now 19.
Morgan watched the emotional interview. She said it wiped away some of her anger, and she wants to forgive her mom eventually, but now is not the time. Too much damage has been done, and now her reappearance has stirred up new emotions, said Morgan.
"What do you say to her? She's watching you right now?" asked Dr. Phil during the interview.
"If you can just forgive me for what I've done to you," answered Heist.
"I hope she respects the fact me and my brother aren't ready to talk to her, and we both need to accept this and let time go on," said Morgan, who has been infiltrated with comments and friend requests on social media since her mother resurfaced last month.
At one point, Heist was declared dead after she abandoned her family in 2002 in Lititz. Heist told police she hitchhiked to Florida with a group of homeless people, overwhelmed with a pending divorce and financial problems.
"Did you ever think about the children?" asked Dr. Phil.
"Yes, I did, but I just thought it would be better if I wasn't there," answered Heist.
"I always wonder what it would have been like growing up with her, but at the same time, I think it's a good thing that it did happen because I know I'm stronger because of it," said Morgan.
Morgan has since grown closer with her stepmom. She said her mom can cry and say sorry all she wants, but it won't change what she did.
Allentown, PA 18102