Earhart, well over 100 years old, was none the worse for wear, according to authorities.
"She said she'd been in tighter spots than that," said Sheriff Jim Alderden. "She's a tough old bird."
Alderden said his men hadn't thought to look in Heene's attic for Earhart, because they assumed she had crashed into the Pacific Ocean in 1937.
The discovery has led many to believe that Earhart's disappearance was an elaborate, attention-grabbing hoax planned by Heene, who caused an uproar last week when he erroneously reported that his son Falcon had been carried away by an experimental balloon he had tethered in his backyard.
"That stupid jerk - I was worried sick about that woman!" said Art Federburg, 81, of Hackensack, N.J., upon hearing about Earhart. "There's 72 years I'm never gonna get back."