According to authorities, the balloon boy incident was indeed a conspiracy between Richard and Mayumi Heene to help them land their own family reality show.
But what Fort Collins, Colorado police want to be sure of now is if Robert Thomas, a native of Denver, helped the Heenes create the media stunt gone wrong.
Robert Thomas, 25, describes himself as a researcher and told Gawker.com that he and Richard Heene had planned the balloon boy incident earlier this year. (For Thomas’ complete report to Gawker, click here.)
Gabriel Synder who is Editor-in-chief of Gawker.com said that they paid Thomas for his story, but would not elaborate on what that amount was.
In short, Thomas stated that he and Heene met in March of this year and developed a relationship based on their mutual love of science.
Thomas stated that Heene wanted to have a reality show that would feature him as a mad scientist conducting various experiments. Thomas provided Gawker.com with the following quote made by Richard Heene: “This will be the most significant UFO-related news event to take place since the Roswell Crash of 1947, and the result will be a dramatic increase in local and national awareness about the Heene Family, our Reality Series, as well as the UFO Phenomenon in general.”
According to Thomas’ report to Gawker.com, the story he and Richard Heene had talked about did not involve any of Heene’s children.
Now, Thomas will be interviewed by investigators to learn more about the hoax.
In addition to Robert Thomas’ possible involvement with the Heene family, there may be other conspirators. For example, Sheriff Jim Alderden stated that there was a document showing that a media outlet is going to pay the Heenes for the balloon incident.
However, it is not clear if this said media outlet agreed to do so before or after the balloon incident was determined to be a hoax.
At a news conference on Sunday, Sheriff Jim Alderden stated that although no charges have been filed against the Heenes yet, he intends to recommend charges of conspiracy, making a false report to authorities, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and attempting to influence a public servant.
The more serious of the charges carries a maximum sentence of six years and a fine of $500,000.
At Sunday’s press conference, Sheriff Alderden also stated that all three of the Heene’s sons knew of the hoax but most likely won’t face charges due to their ages. Additionally, Child Protective Services has been contacted and will investigate the Heene children’s well-being.
Sources: www.news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_balloon_boy, http://gawker.com/5383858/exclusive-i-helped-richard-heene-plan-a-balloon-hoax , www.news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_balloon_boy