19 Oct 2009

Balloon boy case a hoax, say police

8:35 am on 19 October 2009

The parents of a boy mistakenly believed to have been carried away in a helium balloon will face charges, and the balloon flight was a hoax, a sherrif in the US state of Colorado says.

Sheriff Jim Alderden of Larimer County has interviewed the parents of Falcon Heene, 6, for a second time, the BBC reports.

Last week, the boy was feared to have been in a weather balloon which flew away but was later found at home.

"It has been determined that this is a hoax, that it was a publicity stunt and we believe we have evidence at this point to indicate that this was a publicity stunt in hopes to better market themselves for a reality show," Mr Alderden said at a media conference.

Mr Alderden said the parents, Richard and Mayumi Heene, could face charges of conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, filing a false report with authorities and with attempting to influence a public servant.

He had previously said the couple would face only misdemeanor charges in the incident.

Richard Heene has emphatically denied that the incident was a hoax and Mr Alderden initially said that he believed him.

Speculation over whether the four-hour flight was an elaborate hoax by the family, arose after the boy, named Falcon, said on CNN's Larry King Live that he stayed hidden "for the show."

The family has previously appeared on reality television and are known as storm chasers.