Last week, Richard and Mayumi Heene of Fort Collins, Colorado pulled a publicity-seeking hoax that touched off a frantic rescue attempt to rescue their young son, six-year-old Falcon. The Heene’s told police authorities that their son was in homemade helium balloon that was swept away by high winds. When the balloon finally landed in a farmer’s wheat field, the boy was not in the saucer-shaped helium balloon but was hiding and safe at home.
At first it was thought that this was just a misunderstanding but when the six year old explained that it was all for show. Larimer County Sheriff, Jim Alderden, decided to investigate this incident further. The Sheriff determined that this was all a hoax and a publicity stunt that would better market the Heenes for a reality television show at some point in the future.
The parents could be charged with many counts of criminal activity including conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, making a false police report and attempting to influence a public servant. It seems that this event was planned for some time. The plan was to create a situation where it appeared that Falcon was in the craft to gain publicity and notoriety for a television show.
The Heenes have appeared in a TV show, “Wife Swap”, and Richard Heene has been described as a storm chaser and amateur scientist who had involved his wife and sons in his activities.
Is this a matter of poor judgment, publicity stunt for notoriety or just plain stupidity? Whatever you call it, Heene and his wife will be facing more than just TV cameras. They will be facing a judge who may sentence them to prison for many years as well as possibly paying restitution to law enforcement and maybe to the farmer where the winter wheat field was damaged by all the police activity.