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.
"When a missing person doesn't appear after weeks or months, the added psychological stress on the families increases. Psychologists call this phenomenon 'complicated grief' due to the traumatic nature of the death or disappearance and the obstructions to its resolution," she said.
Feeling of confusion
For Lee Heist, the news that his ex-wife had been found alive in Florida was one of confusion and ambiguity.
"My reaction was extremely mixed. Several reactions went through me. They all raced through me, and I couldn't grab one. It was just confusion for the first hour of so," he said.
Still, he also felt vindicated. Those who believed he was involved in Brenda Heist's disappearance now know the truth.
"The hardest thing I had to deal with was, the families of some of my children's friends would not let them play with them, because of what they thought of me. That just tore me apart. I hope they've learned a lesson not to prejudge," he said.
Brenda Heist is currently in "protective custody" said Becky Herrin, spokeswoman for the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, who added that she could not offer any further information.
CNN's attempts to reach Brenda Heist were unsuccessful.
No charges have been filed in the case.
"There's nothing illegal about her walking away from her family," Schofield said. "I'm happy she's all right. I'm happy for the family, but now we're forced to think about the wasted manpower that went into this, the hours and money spent on this investigation, the time and effort."
Heist's missing person flyer has remained posted on the wall in Schofield's office for 11 years. Now he can finally close a case that has been open for more than a decade.
Life goes on
For Lee Heist and his two children, life goes on.
Their daughter, 20, is now a sophomore in college.
Their son is a college graduate and is applying to a police academy, said the Lititz police news release.