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October 19, 2009

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'Balloon boy' saga may end in charges

A SHERIFF said he was pursuing criminal charges in Colorado's "balloon boy" saga, which first sparked fear for the child, then relief that he was OK and now suspicions of a hoax.

Deputies searched the home of the boy's parents on Saturday night, carrying away boxes and a computer.

The parents, Richard and Mayumi Heene, met with Larimer County investigators for much of Saturday afternoon amid lingering questions about whether he perpetrated a publicity stunt when his 6-year-old son Falcon vanished into the rafters of his garage while millions of worried television viewers thought he was zooming through the sky in a flying saucer-like helium balloon.

Hoax suspicion

But Sheriff Jim Alderden didn't say who would be charged or what the charges would be. He didn't call Thursday's hours-long drama a hoax, but he expressed disappointment that he couldn't level more serious charges in the incident, which sent police and the military scrambling to save young Falcon Heene.

"We are talking to the district attorney, federal officials to see if perhaps there aren't additional federal charges that are appropriate in this circumstance," Alderden said.

Heene said one of the boy's older brothers said Falcon was aboard the homemade balloon when it took off. Suspicion it was a hoax arose shortly after Falcon was found hiding in a cardboard box.

Authorities questioned the Heenes after Falcon turned to his dad during a CNN interview last week and said "you said we did this for a show" when asked why he didn't come out of his hiding place.

Heene and his family appeared on the ABC reality show "Wife Swap," and the show's producer said it had a show in development with the Heenes but the deal is now off. TLC television said it turned down a Heene for a reality show.


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