Hours after Colorado authorities said they expect to file charges in the “balloon boy” case, sheriff’s deputies and detectives were seen entering and leaving the house of Richard Heene early Sunday.
Heene is the storm-chasing father whose giant Mylar balloon ascended into the sky late last week, sparking fears that his 6-year-old son Falcon was aboard. A dispatcher with the Larimer County Sheriff’s Department declined to release any information about the search, but said the office will hold a news conference at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. Mountain Time) Sunday. Calls to the department’s spokeswoman were not immediately returned. “We anticipate criminal charges will be filed sometime in the near future,” Sheriff Jim Alderden told CNN late Saturday. Speculation over whether Thursday’s incident, which prompted a widespread search, was a hoax has mounted against Heene, father of three young boys. Explainer: How ‘balloon boy’ drama began The search included the Federal Aviation Administration and the Colorado National Guard, and ended when Falcon climbed down from the attic above the garage at the family’s home. Heene and his wife, Mayumi, insist their fears over Falcon going were genuine, and not a publicity stunt. The family has appeared on ABC’s “Wife Swap” and posted videos of storm-chasing and other activities online.
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Responding to a reporter’s question about speculation earlier in the day, Heene said, “Absolutely no hoax.” If it were determined that the incident was a hoax, the only charge local authorities could press would be making a false report to authorities — a Class 3 misdemeanor, Alderden told reporters Saturday. Watch sheriff discuss possible charges However, a misdemeanor “hardly seems serious enough given the circumstances,” the sheriff said. He added that investigators and prosecutors may push the case beyond the local level to see “if perhaps there aren’t additional federal charges that would be more appropriate.” Richard and Mayumi Heene emerged Saturday evening from the sheriff’s office after several hours of interviews with investigators. “I was talking to the sheriff’s department just now to further things along,” Richard Heene told reporters outside the building. “We’re doing well.” He declined to take questions before the couple drove away in their minivan. Earlier in the day, Richard Heene approached reporters outside his home with a cardboard box, asking the media to toss their questions inside it. “I got people e-mailing me, calling me; they’ve got a lot of questions, and I don’t know how to quite frankly answer any of them other than I’ve got a box,” he said. He said he’d answer the questions later Saturday night. “I’m going to place the box up front, please write your questions down,” he said. “I have no idea what the news are saying; I don’t have cable.” Questions over the incident intensified after the family appeared on CNN’s “Larry King Live” Thursday night. Repeating a question from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, who was filling in for King, Heene asked his son why he had not come out from hiding when they were calling for him. Watch body language expert analyze Heene interview
“You guys said we did this for the show,” Falcon replied. Heene told CNN his son was confused when he made the “show” remark. There were media assembled on the front lawn asking all sorts of questions, and that’s what Falcon was referring to, Heene said.