While police did find some new information, all of their leads came up short.
"I won't even get into the number of psychics who called in, saying they knew where she was. Obviously that didn't pan out," he said.
Despite years of dedicated investigation, it seemed like an answer to Heist's whereabouts would never be found.
Not without her children
Friends and family were convinced that something bad had happened to her.
While they couldn't determine how she disappeared, they all agreed on one thing: There was no way Heist would ever leave her children, or so they thought.
"When the investigation first began, after interviewing all of her family and friends, neighbors, co -workers, the one consistent thing they all said was that she would never leave on her own. She would never leave her children behind," said Schofield.
"The fact that she left on her own was one of the theories, but it was at the bottom of the list," he said.
In 2010, Lee Heist filed a petition with the county court to have Brenda declared legally deceased, according to the Lititz police news release. It was a measure necessary for closure, he said.
He later remarried.
When Schofield got the call from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office on Friday, he thought they had found her remains somewhere.
He was shocked to find out that all these years, she was alive and in Florida.
He contacted Lee Heist immediately and told the family the news.
"It was very emotional," Schofield said of his meeting with Lee and his two children, now grown.
"It hit the daughter that nothing horrible had happened to her mother, but it instantly dawned on her that her mother chose to leave. That's got to be extremely difficult."
Lee Heist said Thursday he was surprised to learn his ex-wife was alive.
"I really did think that she had died and unfortunately, probably, not in a very pleasant way."
LaDonna Meredith, president and co-founder of Let's Bring Them Home, an organization whose mission is to "provide safety education for children and adults as well as critical resources to families with missing loved ones" said a missing person case in which the adult chooses to leave is rare.
"It happens less than 5% of the time," Meredith wrote in an e-mail to CNN.