Sheriff Alderden said he was pursuing criminal charges in Colorado’s “balloon boy” saga, which had the nation in fear for the child on Thursday from false reports that he was aboard a runaway balloon. Falcon Heene, the six year old who is now dubbed “Balloon Boy” in headlines across the world, was found safe, but this story is far from over. The balloon boy hoax has now been stepped up to a larger scale investigation.
Fox News reports Saturday night, deputies searched the family home of Richard Heene, the boy’s father and carried away several boxes and a computer.
Larimer County investigators met with the parents, Richard and Mayumi Heene, at length on Saturday afternoon investigating the possibility that the “balloon boy” story was a hoax.
Deputies’ searched the Heene’s Fort Collins home but Sgt. Ian Stewart would not elaborate on what the search warrant had them looking for.
Sheriff Alderden spoke to press on Saturday and stopped short of calling the “balloon boy” incident a hoax. Oringially saying he believed this was a true report, he has now changed his mind. He conveyed he was disappointed that he couldn’t seek more serious charges in this incident stating: “We were looking at Class 3 misdemeanor, which hardly seems serious enough given the circumstances.” Alderden said. “We are talking to the district attorney, federal officials to see if perhaps there aren’t additional federal charges that are appropriate in this circumstance.”
The suspicions that the balloon saga was a hoax came almost immediately after Falcon was found hiding in a box in the attic. Richard Heene is a storm chaser and amateur inventor who had his family appear on the reality show “Wife Swap,” twice. He has been sticking to his claims that he did not know his son, Falcon was in the runaway balloon until his older son “tapped him on the shoulder and said that Falcon was in the balloon”.
Initially, Sheriff Alderden said there was no reason to believe the incident was a hoax. This changed quickly after Falcon turned to his dad during a CNN interview Thursday night and said “you said we did this for the show” when he was asked why he didn’t come out of his hiding place.
Falcon was asked this two more times on Friday during interviews and both times he got sick and could not answer the question. Richard Heene had Falcon appear in the TV interviews with a bowl in front of him, ready in case he needed to throw up.
The Heene’s family video shows the family doing a countdown before Richard Heene pulls a cord for the lift off of the balloon that started the “balloon boy” saga. He has said the balloon was supposed to be tethered to the ground when it lifted off, and no one was supposed to be aboard.
On the video one of the boys exclaims, “Whoa!”. Then Richard Heene crys out in disbelief, “Oh, my God!” He then says to someone, “You didn’t put the (expletive) tether down!” and then starts to kick the foundation that had held the balloon.
Richard Heene said he had scolded Falcon before the launch of the balloon for getting inside of it. When Heene’s older son told him that Falcon was aboard the balloon, he found it believable for that reason.
Richard Heene said in his first interview that the first call he made was to the FAA, then his wife called 911. He explained that he felt the FAA would know what to do, making this his first choice.
TMZ broke the story yesterday that for the last few months Richard Heene has been pitching his ideas to various networks for a reality TV show about his family. Many believe this may have been his attempt at a “jump start” to this show.
His attempts may have backfired because reports this morning are that the producer from ABC’s “Wife Swap” show had a show in development with Richard Heene and has since called off the deal. TLC reports that Heene pitched a show to them months ago, which they passed on.
Richard Heene has worked as a handyman and contractor, a weather chaser, and along with his family, a reality-TV star. Saturday morning he came out of his house at 5am and promised the waiting press, “a big story” at 10am. He did come out at 10am, but it was with a cardboard box that he left on his front porch and told the press to write down their questions and put them in the box. He said that he would be answering questions later.
Richard Heene and his family appeared on the ABC reality show “Wife Swap,” and the show’s producer said it had a show in development with the Heene’s but the deal is now off. TLC also said Heene had pitched a reality show to the network months ago, but it passed on the offer.
References: Fox News Weekend