View Full Version : Balloon Boy Was a Hoax

10-18-2009, 08:49 PM
I had a hinky feeling about this from the beginning. I'm in complete agreement with the Sheriff who wishes they could file more serious charges against the parents. Frankly - I think the children need to be removed from the home. I listened to two commentators outline the cost to the public (military and local law enforcement), not to mention the media and the emotional distress the story put some people through as "enormous." I know scrambling military planes ain't cheap and they had 80 law enforcement people involved in the search. I know! Let's send the bill to the Heenes.


DENVER (Reuters) - The flight of a home-made helium balloon that touched off a frantic rescue attempt for the young boy thought to be aboard was a publicity-seeking hoax, a Colorado sheriff said on Sunday.
Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden said the parents of 6-year-old Falcon Heene would likely face charges in the bizarre incident, which riveted television viewers across the United States for more than two hours on Thursday.

The airship took to the skies on Thursday morning and Richard and Mayumi Heene claimed that their son had climbed aboard, triggering a massive search and rescue operation as the odd silver craft drifted for 50 miles, trailed by U.S. National Guard helicopters.

The boy was later found not in the flying saucer-shaped craft but safe at home.

"It has been determined that this is a hoax, that it was a publicity stunt," Alderden told a press conference.

"We believe we have evidence at this point to indicate that it was a publicity stunt done with the hopes of better marketing themselves for a reality television show at some point in the future," he said.

Alderden said the parents could be charged with conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, making a false police report and attempting to influence a public servant.

Investigators think Falcon and his brothers, who are 8 and 10, were "100 percent involved" in the caper, he said, but were not expected to face criminal charges because of their age.

"On the bizarre meter, this rates a 10," Alderden said.

Authorities had considered desperate measures to somehow bring the balloon down safely before it slowly began to deflate on its own and landed softly in a wheat field near Denver.


Rescuers who raced to the balloon and found it empty then began to scour the countryside for Falcon, fearing that he had fallen out -- until the family announced that he was safe and had been hiding in a garage attic.

Questions were raised after a CNN interviewer told Richard Heene to ask his son why he had stayed in hiding so long when searchers were desperately calling his name.

The boy responded: "You guys (his parents) said that, um, we did this for the show."

The Heene family has appeared on the ABC television reality show "Wife Swap" in which families swap mothers to deal with family issues.

They gave interviews on a series of U.S. morning shows on Friday to emphatically deny the incident was staged. Falcon vomited repeatedly on camera.

Alderden, who told reporters on Friday that he was inclined to believe the Heenes, said his investigators determined that the incident was staged after interviewing all five members of the family and searching their home.

"This has been a planned event for some two weeks," he said. "The plan was to launch the spacecraft for a reality TV show. The plan was to create a situation where it appeared that Falcon was in the craft to gain publicity. To obtain notoriety, to obtain publicity for a television show."

The sheriff said he initially let reporters, and the Heenes, think that he bought their story as a way to gain the family's trust but privately harbored skepticism.

Alderden said it was still not clear where Falcon was when it was thought he was stuck inside the balloon, adding that: "For all we know he may have been two blocks down the road playing on the swings in the city park."

Richard Heene has been described as a storm chaser and amateur scientist who had involved his wife and sons in his activities. He told reporters that his contraption was intended as an experimental vehicle that "people can pull out of their garage and hover above traffic 50 to 100 feet."

But Alderden portrayed the Heenes essentially as hucksters desperate to get on television.

"They are actors. Not only have they appeared on TV, they met at acting school in Hollywood," Alderden said. "They put on a very good show for us, and we bought it."

10-18-2009, 09:34 PM
They should have to pay for all the police, fire and rescue, and pay for the crop field they ruined when the balloon came down and all the trucks went racing across it only to find it empty.

Until idiots like this start having to pay for false alarms, we will be stuck with someone thinking it's okay to pull countless police and fire personnel off regular duties and waste their time on this kind of crap.

It's the runaway bride all over again.

10-18-2009, 09:46 PM
It was a hoax. This is my shocked face. :unamused:

I agree that they should have to pay for all the emergency services used. They're damn lucky that there was no *real* emergency in which someone was hurt or killed because those rescuers and equipment was chasing after their stunt.

Unfortunately, even with it being known as a hoax they're still getting what they wanted all along: media attention.

Isabelle Warwicke
10-18-2009, 11:07 PM
I totally called it about an hour into TV coverage.

"You wait, the kids hiding in the damn linen closet."

Taffy Saltwater
10-19-2009, 10:45 PM
This is what happens when we reward people for their "reality". Can't afford - but have - 8 or more kids - get a show; can't afford a Malibu beach house - get a show; getting married, have big boobs and no brain cells - get a show. Sorry, it's all a snooze - they get none of my time and even less respect.

Lady Anne
10-20-2009, 12:41 PM
They wanted a "reality show"...well send them the bill...that should bring the "reality" into focus! All the money for the emergency response, from the local to the military, came out of the taxpayers' pockets. They should have to pay it back.

Just my humble opinion.

Molly The Pirate
10-20-2009, 03:24 PM
wow, what kind of idiots are these people?! now, that kid is going to have to grow up in shame and get made fun of in school because his parents are assholes.

10-21-2009, 05:50 PM
The only good thing about this is we don't have to hear about the Gosslin's or awhile!

Taffy Saltwater
10-21-2009, 07:57 PM
The only good thing about this is we don't have to hear about the Gosslin's or awhile!

Amen, sistah!