October 15th, 2009
07:53 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Balloon Mystery Solved

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/10/15/colorado.boy.balloon/art.balloon.landing.kusa.jpg caption= "The balloon landed near Keenesburg, Colorado, about 50 miles from the Heene's Fort Collins home."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Tonight we'll have the latest on the balloon mystery flight that had millions glued to their TV sets. Above Colorado, news helicopters were tracking a homemade helium balloon that looked like homemade space ship or a massive flying Jiffy Pop. A six-year-old boy was believed to be on board as the balloon traveled 50 miles going as high as 7,000 feet. But when the balloon eventually landed, the child wasn't there. Then there was concern the boy might have fallen out. Though, three hours after the ordeal began, came word Falcon Heene was never on board and had hid in his family's attic.

Tonight you'll hear from Falcon and his father, Richard Heene, who says the balloon was a family invention.

We also have an exclusive report on allegations Texas executed an innocent man. Cameron Todd Willingham was put to death five years ago. But more than half a dozen forensic experts believe the fire that killed his three girls was not arson. Tonight a juror is speaking out and admitting she has trouble sleeping at night due to the case. You'll also hear from Willingham's defense attorney. We've been covering this story for months, demanding answers and Keeping them Honest.

There's also an incredible report from Dr. Sanjay Gupta. See how a woman cheated death when she was frozen alive. It's tied to his new book, "Cheating Death: The Doctors and Medical Miracles that are Saving Lives Against All Odds."

Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10pm ET. See you then!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. Shawn Knuckey

    I live in Denver Colorado. I think Falcons parents were wrong for what they did. Falcon is not to blame just the parents. Falcon was told to say what his parents told him to say. Falcon came out with the truth even though he was told not to. I think he is brave for what he did. The parents shouldn't be with great kids like falcon. I think the parents need to learn what they did was wrong by paying everything back to Colorado! Our taxes at first should have gone to falcon. But now i think Falcons parents need to pay us back. I think this is a scam for publicity.

    October 15, 2009 at 11:43 pm |
  2. Dottie

    So glad Falcon is safe! This was no hoax! Falcon probably said it was for the show because he saw the cameras when he came down from the attic and people started asking him questions, so he must have thought they were doing another reality show. Not reality but he is only six years old. If you listen to the fathers response on Larry King Live, I believe that he is trying to explain this. Remember this has been a very trying day for this family.

    October 15, 2009 at 11:35 pm |
  3. Nicole

    I'm a Denver Colorado resident and tax payer. I say make this family pay back every dime that was spent on 'the rescue'. The were obviously lying. My heart does out to all the folks that put their lives on the line and worked so hard trying to chase down this balloon. We were all fooled,(but only for a minute)

    October 15, 2009 at 11:35 pm |
  4. cyringe

    for those of you who now think the kid mad a mistake or spoke wrong. we have watched "kids say the darndest thing" and you and i know as much as they are opening their mouth they are saying the truth just like they have heard it.

    October 15, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
  5. barbara

    don't believe the dad. Seemed like an act , phony cry, when he answered

    October 15, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
  6. Tim Gibson

    This is clearly some sort of hoax. These people were on a reality TV show and have it in their blood. The interview with Wolf was extremely peculiar and telling.

    October 15, 2009 at 11:25 pm |
  7. Jeannette Kucan

    Thank goodness the boy was found safe!! There is totally something fishy about this story though. I think for whatever reasons the family was looking for publicity. It's a shame they had to use their own child for it. The Dad acted like he had something to hide. I hope they are not teaching their children how to lie to draw attention.

    October 15, 2009 at 11:22 pm |
  8. Katie

    Oh come on people! If you really believe that this ISN'T a hoax then there is something wrong with u! Listen to the little boy! The little boy was put on the spot and so was the father. The little boy answered truthfully. I feel bad for the children. Why would an parent make their child participate in anything like this. They should have to pay all of the money that they cost tax payers for the "search" as well as charged with criminal charges.

    And yea... The father was a nervous wreck. I was in shock at how badly the entire interview went and how he acted during the entire thing. Did you notice how the dad reacted right after they boy said that it was for the show... and the long silence from the father after he was asked to to tell the boy to clearify what he meant by "it was for the show" and then he wouldn't even let the boy answer. HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They are horrible actors... fake crying... fake everything.

    We were all hoping and praying for this little boys safetly and for the family and then the whole thing turned out to be fake. What pitiful parents!!

    If this doesn't scream HOAX then I don't know what does

    October 15, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  9. Kathy B. Massachusetts

    My thoughts are that although this boy is physically safe he is not safe emotionally from a family that is trying to use his children to be in the national spotlight. If you look at the overall picture it is very clear that this is a hoax. Very sad.

    October 15, 2009 at 11:20 pm |
  10. Tina

    I live in Colorado.
    The kid is cute.
    I even watched some episodes of Wife Swap.
    But why is this big national news? Are you kidding me?
    Anyway, if it's a hoax, the family should pay for all the emergency workers that wasted their time today.

    October 15, 2009 at 11:17 pm |
  11. Dan Jankowski

    its apparent this was a staged story, If feel sorry for the kids........ The father has to grow up

    October 15, 2009 at 11:16 pm |
  12. Jen

    This boy wasn't missing, the whole thing was a man trying to get attention for himself. Look at the video where Falcon says "it was a show". Complete hoax.

    October 15, 2009 at 11:15 pm |
  13. Korinne

    A complete hoax. Father used his son to get airtime- also note how the wife never speaks up......he is a very controlling individual and hot headed. Waste of tax payers money and all of our time. Watch him get what he wants, though, and be on the Today show, The View, Good Morning America by tomorrow....what a shame!!!!!

    October 15, 2009 at 11:15 pm |
  14. Sunny

    seriously!! who is going to believe this story.. they are just trying to have quick fame.. i hope you wont show them anymore in tv and i hope they will get charged.

    October 15, 2009 at 11:14 pm |
  15. Lynn

    For sure sketchy...

    October 15, 2009 at 11:11 pm |
  16. Jonathan Hoy

    'Balloon Boy' should be renamed to 'Hiding-In-Attic Boy'.

    October 15, 2009 at 11:08 pm |
  17. Jim Daly

    I told my Dad, it was a hoax. Thought so early, right after they found the kid. I called my Dad nad told him he heard it from me first.. I think the guy is a publicity hound.

    October 15, 2009 at 11:06 pm |
  18. Mik B

    I'm wondering why he couldn't even bother to thank any of the people/rescurers who took the time to chase the balloon and then look for the hidden boy, and how about an apology on behalf of the kid for wasting everyone' s time. A little sincerity might make it not appear so fake! I felt really sick watching these events unfold, thinking what might happen to the boy in there, then to find out he was hiding.... I felt just as sick!

    October 15, 2009 at 11:05 pm |
  19. David

    These people who think this was planned are not only stupid, but they have no compassion. Try putting yourself in the kid's place for a minute. He's six years old, surrounded by lights, cameras, and a room full of people he doesn't know. He can't hear the questions being asked. He only hears his mom and dad's answers. Well into a very long interview for someone his age, he's likely anxious for everyone to leave and wishing he could get back to his normal routine.

    I can easily see the little boy feeling angry that he has to sit still for this long. It's no surprise that he'd say something about "the show," but it is ridiculous to make the leap all the way to "this is a stunt" from the boy's comment.

    When I was about his age, I told my dad that some teenagers "tried to shoot me with a shotgun". In reality, their old pickup truck had backfired, but I was so scared my imagination twisted reality into something far from the truth. Thankfully, now I'm old enough to know better. Apparently, a lot of your viewers have yet to grow up.

    October 15, 2009 at 11:01 pm |
  20. rebel844

    You only need to know 2 things to solve this puzzle. The kid saying "we did it for the show", and the dad's angry reaction towards the end when the interview switched from the boy's safety to the publicity stunt. Stevie wonder could see this was a set up to gain exposure.

    October 15, 2009 at 10:57 pm |
  21. Lisa

    Any family in this country that would be intensely scrutinized by the media would be faulted by the public, no matter the topic.
    Falcon saw the cameras and thought it a show..he's six.
    Mr. Heene was understandably upset because it had been a horrendously stressful day, when the family actually needed to be alone and regroup.
    We the nation drained the life out of this family because we didn't have enough respect for them in such a trying time to be left alone.

    October 15, 2009 at 10:57 pm |
  22. jennifer h

    I have a very hard time believing that this boy was lying on Larry King's show. I work with children in my nursing profession and have a step daughter. Based on my experience with children in this age group and this boy's body language, he was actually being honest. Children of that age are rarely conniving or conning under that intense scrutiny of the barrage of media coverage and questioning. I live in Larimer County Colorado and feel that there should be an investigation and charges filed against the parents. Clearly that mother was coaching him...

    October 15, 2009 at 10:55 pm |
  23. phyllis

    The mother's face betrayed the truth: there was absolutely no expression, no re-living those horrible moments, no anger, no relief. This was a scam.

    October 15, 2009 at 10:54 pm |
  24. Lee Ann

    I was thrilled to hear the six year old boy was safe in his house. But what did the child mean when he said it was part of the show? My goodness ...how could a family pull the heart strings of the world for a show?

    October 15, 2009 at 10:53 pm |
  25. James G

    I think that it planed and the kid did the right thing by saying that it was a show that they had planed.

    October 15, 2009 at 10:47 pm |
  26. Arleen

    Weather the balloon tryst was a hoax or not, if there is even a small chance someone is in that kind of danger, I say pull out all the stops! We seem to have money for everything else. Expensive parties, planes, glitz, entertainment, etc. People (especially kids) are our most important commodity.

    October 15, 2009 at 10:44 pm |
  27. Joe

    Sadly, it appears the family was lying. The little boy said, "We did it for the show" The dad nervously looked at him + shook his head no.

    October 15, 2009 at 10:42 pm |
  28. Chris

    I bet you it was staged!!! That dad looked at the boy after he said "You guys said we did it for the show" like he was ready to slap him and says "man". The dad looked at the wife and the wife looked at him, and after that the wife says to Falcon "no". They are fakes. INVESTIGATE THEM AND BRING THEM TO JUSTICE! Why would a kid say that, and WHY would he not let the kid talk after the show when he was asked why he said that? The dad had to answer for him. They are attention seekers. Fake crying, fake sadness, fake personalities!

    October 15, 2009 at 10:40 pm |
  29. Catherine

    It's a hoax – I really believed it to be true when I first heard of it and switched on my TV this afternoon. But after looking at the family on Larry King – they are lying. Kids blurt out the truth at the most inconvenient of times and that is just what has happened. The father is a chancer.

    Why did they tape the kid getting into the balloon??? I hope the police take the kid aside and really get the facts from him.

    October 15, 2009 at 10:38 pm |
  30. ellen north

    this was a publicity stunt to advance the family in their endeavors whatever they may be.

    October 15, 2009 at 10:38 pm |
  31. Kathy Boudreau

    As the story unraveled I began to suspect that this may be a publicity stunt as this family appears to love the drama wether it be storm chasing or wife swapping. When Falcon stated "it was just for the show" I really am quite sure my intuition was right. It doesn't sound like something a 6 year old would say. The father seemed stunned and then angry which made me even more suspicious. It would be very sad to think it was just for the show – All I can say is "from the mouth of babes".

    October 15, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  32. Mathew

    This is the first time as an avid AC360 watcher that I have felt strongly enough to comment on a story.

    Balloon boy's story was clearly a blatant hoax and the family should not only be held financially accountable, but also be taken to court to be made to pay for lying to the authorities.

    The boy in question was obviously drawn into this sick joke by his parents and under questioning admitted so. His answer to the question "Why didn't you come out?" was proof. Anyone who suggests otherwise is delusional. What else could he have being referring to?

    October 15, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  33. Moe Perteet

    Your viewers are incredibly cynical. My grandson hide under a piece of play equipment and the more desperate my voice became, the quieter he became. I finally heard him crying when my finger was poised over 911.

    October 15, 2009 at 10:27 pm |
  34. Stan

    My wife and I were watching the Larry King Live show when the family was being interviewed. I told her I thought they were not being truthful because of the way they were answering the questions. The father was very talkative until he asked the boy if he had heard him calling his name. He said "yes". The dad acted shocked by this answer, then he asked why didn't he come out. The boy responded " Mmm you said, mmm aaahh.....for the show". Then when the father was asked later to ask the boy what he meant by "show" he wouldn't even let the boy answer and got real defensive to the newscaster. Personally, I think it WAS a publicity stunt and I think the parents should pay for it!!

    October 15, 2009 at 10:18 pm |
  35. Jennifer

    I agree with a father who won't ask a 6 year old such a loaded question, with many possible answers. I'm sure it's one his own parents will ask in private, when appropriate. And qualified professionals if necessary. 6 year olds don't always speak in an understandable way anyway. It's a bit of a puzzle sometimes.

    October 15, 2009 at 10:18 pm |
  36. Annie Kate

    Looking forward to the balloon story with the 6 year old and the cheating death story with Dr. Gupta. I would have been beside myself if it were my son and I thought he was in the balloon and it landed and no child inside. That family had to have gone through hell today. And yes, the balloon does look like jiffy pop popcorn.

    October 15, 2009 at 10:16 pm |
  37. keith libertyville

    mr heene should have denied all interviews until the family got the lies sorted out

    October 15, 2009 at 10:16 pm |
  38. dr. belle

    I told my wife that the kid cant tell a lie,and i told her that the producer
    and wolf would play back the kids statement 2or 3 minutes before the
    end of the program,,,,that was a perry mason moment,,,great for wolf
    and the producer of the year.

    The radio jock

    October 15, 2009 at 10:16 pm |
  39. J Lester

    So happy the six year is okay, and now can we go on to news. Everyone is trying to make something out of nothing. Love your show Anderson!

    October 15, 2009 at 10:16 pm |
  40. William D. McQueary

    I believe that the parents of the child set this up. When asked to have falcon articulate what he meant when he said "you guy said we did this for the show" the father failed to have him do this. I would bet that now that they have a chance to tell the boy what to say they will try to fix their flub up.

    October 15, 2009 at 10:15 pm |
  41. kathy

    I have to say that was a horrible acting job from Mr. Heene...his face dropped when his son told the truth and said we did this for the show!! I hope they will be prosecuted and be made to pay restitution for all the police and emergency services that were called out for a hoax. What a shame that these are the lessons those parents are teaching their kids...

    October 15, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  42. Francisco

    One has got to be pretty stupid to believe this publicity stunt. Just watching the closeups of the ballon while in flight it is more than evident there wasn't anybody else inside.
    And watching the nervousness in the interview, no doubt in my mind this was for a quick buck or more.

    October 15, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  43. Kita

    I think they did it for show. Belive what the kid said! It was planned..

    October 15, 2009 at 10:13 pm |
  44. Stevie Rich

    If you are a good detective it's is clear by the reaction of the parents after asking the boy why he didn't come out, it seems clear, they were surprised to hear he had heard them. That reaction was to natural. Leave them alone...

    October 15, 2009 at 10:13 pm |
  45. Teronda-IL

    It could have happened to anyone. The kid got yelled at earlier and his brother thought he was inside when it took off. Leave these people alone! AND LET'S JUST THANK GOD HE IS ALIVE AND WELL!!!

    October 15, 2009 at 10:12 pm |
  46. Darrell T.

    This was totally a publicity stunt. Why wouldnt he (the father) ask the boy the question asked by Wolf on Larry King live regarding why Falcon said "it was for the show". Surely I'm not the only one that seen how nervous the father was. You could cut the tension with a knife

    October 15, 2009 at 10:11 pm |
  47. stephen

    i think this family is crazy just watched interview on larry king the little boy said he did it for the show the father looked very nervouse and when asked to ask the boy what he menat by that he got on the defensive side and would not ask i say this was just a hoax

    October 15, 2009 at 10:11 pm |
  48. jennifer

    i think the family is pulling a hoax on the world. Listen to the boys words on larry king.

    October 15, 2009 at 10:11 pm |
  49. JC-Los Angeles

    Judging from the sorry state of our nation, lifting off in a balloon doesn't seem like such a bad idea.

    October 15, 2009 at 10:07 pm |
  50. Stevie Rich

    I don't know if I should be this angry with our country at times. Why can't we beleive this story to be true? Because we all sin and lie. If we didn't do that from day one on this earth when we were given a choice to make, we would't doubt each others words today. What a wonderful work this would be if no one lied. That's even bigger then the money thing money being the root to all evil.

    October 15, 2009 at 10:05 pm |
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