'Balloon boy' incident was hoax, sheriff says

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Lord have mercy … I watched as most folks did on Thursday as this ballon was flying through the air, thinking this has to be a parent’s worst nightmare! It was scary, got my pressure all up and come to find out this thing was a hoax! REALLY?? Who plays like that? See the CNN article below…

(CNN) — Three days after the world watched a giant balloon fly through the air and a tearful family express fears that their 6-year-old boy could be inside, authorities announced what millions already suspected: The whole thing was staged.

It was carried out by a couple who met “in acting school in Hollywood” and “put on a very good show for us,” Sheriff Jim Alderden of Larimer County said Sunday. Authorities know there was “a conspiracy” between Richard and Mayumi Heene, he said.

“It has been determined that this is a hoax,” the sheriff said, adding police “believe we have evidence at this point that it was a publicity stunt” by the family in hopes of “better marketing themselves for a reality show at some point in the future.”

The dramatic announcement included an admission by Alderden that authorities misled the media on Friday when they said they still believed it was not a hoax.

In fact, after a comment on CNN’s “Larry King Live” Thursday night by Falcon, the 6-year-old boy, “it became very clear to us at that point that they were lying,” Alderden said. But in order to get to the truth, “it was very important that they maintain their trust with us.” So investigators misled the media while they carried out their “game plan” of gathering the truth.

The words that triggered concern: “You guys said we did this for the show.” That’s what Falcon told his parents when they asked him, on live television, why he had not come out from hiding when they were calling for him.

The “nonverbal responses” from the children at that moment made it clear, Alderden said. The children looked at their parents at that moment, seeming unsure how to react.

The Heenes denied any hoax Friday during an interview with CNN and said Falcon’s remark was a reference to the media that had assembled in front of the family’s home.

The Heenes had no immediate response to Sunday’s announcement.

Charges have not been filed, but authorities expect to recommend felony charges including conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and attempting to influence a public servant, Alderden said. They also plan to recommend a charge of filing a false police report, which is a misdemeanor.