Three days after the world watched a giant balloon fly through the air as a tearful family expressed fears that their 6-year-old boy could be inside, authorities announced what millions suspected: The whole thing was staged.
The “Aha!” moment that led authorities to realize what had happened was an interview with the family Thursday night on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” Sheriff Jim Alderden of Larimer County said Sunday. In the interview with Wolf Blitzer, filling in for King, the Heenes asked their son why he had not come out from hiding when they called his name.
“You guys said we did this for the show,” the boy responded.
On Sunday, Alderden called the incident a “hoax,” adding that investigators believe the evidence indicates that “it was a publicity stunt” by the family in hopes of “better marketing themselves for a reality television show at some point in the future.”
The parents, Richard and Mayumi Heene, met in a Hollywood acting school and “put on a very good show for us,” Alderden said. Authorities know there was “a conspiracy” between them, he added.
He said charges are expected to be filed in the case.
The couple’s attorney told CNN affiliate KMGH that he hasn’t seen any evidence beyond “speculation,” but the Heenes would turn themselves in if charges are filed.
“All I’m saying if you’ve got some reason to arrest him, let me know, he’ll turn himself in,” said Denver attorney David Lane referring to Richard Heene. “If you got the goods, just tell me.”