Good evening, I’m Mike Check. and tonight on Unsolved Internet Mysteries™: Balloon Boy. Here’s the story you probably know… On October 15th 2009, Falcon Heene, six years old, hopped into a balloon and was carried off into the air. For two hours and sixty miles, he traveled across the vistas of Colorado. Eventually landing just shy of Denver International Airport. But when they opened up the saucer… there was NO boy. At first it was feared that Falcon had fallen along the way, and a manhunt started to find the boy’s body. But after a couple of hours, Falcon wandered into the living room of the family home and confessed that he had been hiding in a box in the attic of the garage. It was one of the biggest news stories and memes of the year. [♫ ‘Up, Up and Away’ ♫] During the event, ‘Balloon Boy’ was also the most searched term on Google. But it was an expensive game of hide-and-seek. Up to 50 rescue workers were involved, including two military helicopters, police, the Colorado National Guard, the Federal Aviation Administration, ambulances, firefighters. and the balloon drifted so close to the airport, that a bunch of flights had to be rerouted. The total cost of the incident was estimated at $2 MILLION dollars. Press flocked to the Heene home, and the family gave an interview on CNN. Police and the press were quick to change angle from accident to publicity stunt. The mother and father were charged and they pleaded guilty. So that’s the story… OR IS IT? To this day, Richard Heene, the father, adamantly claims that it was never a hoax. Just an experiment gone wrong. And after doing my own research… I’m starting to believe him. This is the story you PROBABLY don’t know. Let’s take a closer look at Richard Heene, he’s an interesting guy. He likes to do science, and chase storms. “-getting into the path of the oncoming tornado.” [Richard] HI, I’m inventor Richard Heene, and BOY do I LOVE MY TRUCK! That’s why I would never PERMANENTLY mount toolboxes or a lumber rack on the back! NOO! I’m gonna use my pickup to pick up hot chicks! YES! YES! YES! YES! [Alpha male dry humping] Heeneduty.com He’s obviously nuts and a bit of a human meme. “I just invented perpetual motion.” And what about the rest of the family? Youngest, Falcon. Eldest, Bradford. His wife, Mayumi, originally from Japan. And middle child, Ryo. The family appeared on the hit reality TV show ‘Wife Swap’. TWICE. And it was their behavior on the show that made the police and the press suspicious. Before we break down the case against Richard Heene, I’m going to show you raw footage from the lift-off. Now first thing, did you see it? Helium canisters, three. They’re big and they’re expensive. And it’s much more helium than they would need for a one-time hoax… but the RIGHT amount for ongoing experiments. This is a purpose built structure for Richard’s experiments, seems elaborate for a hoax. A high voltage sticker, because Richard really was testing electronics on board. This is a release cord, NOT a tether by the way. One of the loose tethers. Now Richard gets mad, and it really doesn’t feel like acting. Either he genuinely is losing his temper over the loss of his balloon, or he’s deliberately making himself out to look like an asshole. The kid sure is doing a good job of acting too, and remember that they would only have ONE TAKE because there is only ONE BALLOON. A fourth canister. But here’s another weird thing. This photo from the police shows that Richard’s electrical equipment for readings and experiments is still on board. Why? Why let your stuff get smashed out on a field somewhere? Now that you’ve seen the lift-off, let’s look at the case AGAINST the Heenes. That the balloon couldn’t have lifted Falcon, he called the news before 911, the live slip up on television, a confession and a guilty plea. Let’s start from the top. The balloon is 17ft wide by 6ft tall. With this, we can figure out the surface area and the volume. We also know the construction materials. Plastic, alfoil, cardboard, thin plywood, duct tape, wire, strings, tether. The balloon’s total volume is over 900 cubic feet. That gives us a lift potential of 65 pounds, minus the weight of the craft, and Falcon only weighed 37 pounds, the police weighed him. That gives you enough potential to raise the boy WITH another 11 to 12 pounds to spare. Next point. You’re about to hear the 911 call. The media and police both said that Richard called the news first, THEN 911. That was a LIE. The phone records show that he called the FAA first, because he knew they could track the balloon better. Then they told him to call 911 and he immediately did so. When he did, the 911 operator put him on HOLD. When taken off Hold, Mayumi picks up the phone. They get put on Hold for a SECOND time. By this point, they’ve now spent 20 MINUTES with the police and have been put on Hold for a THIRD time. So it was no wonder that they called the news and asked for a helicopter. Next point. What did Falcon have to say about the answer he gave on CNN? [Falcon] Well what happened was umm… This Chinese reporter walked up to me, He asked me if I could show him how I got in the attic for his TV show. So I said “okay”. and then after that, another person asked me I was like this… “I did it for the show”. I-I said that because I thought-I thought he was talking about the Chinese guy. It’s not a great excuse, but it’s within the realm of possibility. On the day of the Heenes’ arrest, the police issued a warrant to take phones, computers, documents, cameras, everything they could. and what did they find? They interviewed Falcon, Brad, Ryo each several times WITHOUT parental supervision. Again, what did they get? So the police had nothing, that’s not great for the prosecution. So the police would need a confession. They tried Ricard, but he wasn’t admitting to anything. So they pressed Mayumi and she spilled the beans. English is not her first language. Police arranged the meeting under false pretenses, so she didn’t have a lawyer with her. And also, it doesn’t make any sense. She said in the confession that they built the craft only TWO WEEKS PRIOR. Interesting. Here’s Sheree from ‘Wife Swap’. [Sheree] There was one point where I had to hold the spaceship and clean it and carry it. And Falcon ran into the spaceship and hid in there. Built two weeks prior? Well Sheree just said that she was cleaning it during filming, which was EIGHT MONTHS AGO. [Newscaster] Are you suspicious of him? And if- and if so, why? [Sheree] Knowing him, I couldn’t imagine that he would tell the whole country that his son was up in a balloon. [Newscaster] What’s Falcon like? [Sheree] Literally is the type of child that you would actually see that would go into the spaceship. So umm, it wasn’t surprising that maybe RIchard might have thought he was in there. So that leaves a big question, why did the police pick on Richard Heene? [Richard] Uhh, I’m being persecuted, I think for the benefit of Alderden. His term runs out in 2011. He’s probably gonna run for governor, who knows. But not off my back. How dare Richard Heene accuse an honest man, like Sheriff Alderden of- oh… hmm… Richard said that he was taking it to court. He would not plead guilty, he would not confess. So over the next month, the police applied pressure. Bringing up topics such as Mayumi’s citizenship status and federal charges. It was lose-lose for Richard. Potential felonies, the cost of court and lawyers, his wife could be deported. The story was No. 1 on Google and the press had already decided it was a hoax. So any jury would be stacked against him. [SNL extra] It was a hoax. [Seth Meyers] Yeah we know. Guilty or innocent, this plea was the only sensible choice he had. The Heenes’ were handed a $36,000 fine, and a short term in jail, and Richard would have to formally apologize in court, before a judge, and the police. [Richard] I’m very very sorry. and I want to apologize to umm… all the rescue workers out there, and the umm, and people that got involved in the community. Lastly, Despite pouring over dozens of interviews over the span of eight years, I have not been able to find one instance where Richard has been caught in a lie. There’s evidence of the police lying, evidence of the media lying, Richard’s story has not changed. So where does that leave us really? One piece of evidence, this interview, the testimony of a sleep-deprived six year old who’s not even really listening to the question. That’s it, those ten words are the main substance of the case against Richard Heene. When I first started researching this story, I thought it would be a fun chance to take a few cheap shots at some liar from Colorado. But now I’m not so sure. I’m not saying for certain that this isn’t a hoax, but I think there is more here than what was decided in the press and by means in October of 2009. [Richard] Hi, I’m inventor Richard Heene, If you itch like a son of a twitch, then you need my latest invention… the Patent Pending ‘Bear Scratch™’. Check it out. Oh man, this thing feels good. This thing’s strong. Aww god.