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.
"I don't think we know the full story yet," Schofield told CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" on Friday.
"The facts are she left, she turned her back on her family. She started a new life down in Florida ... Whether she lived homeless or whether she lived a wonderful life as a live-in housekeeper, I don't think that was for the 11 years, that was just for the last few years here."
Schofield said Heist is still looking at charges for false IDs, thefts and possession of drugs and drugs paraphernalia in Florida. There also may be false ID and theft charges to face in Pennsylvania, he said.
She never suspected Heist of using drugs, Forrester said -- or she would not have allowed her near her family.