October 19th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Should the balloon boy's parents face criminal prosecution?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/10/19/balloon.boy.investigation/art.heene.sheriff.kdvr.jpg caption=" Should Richard and Mayumi Heene face criminal prosecution?"]

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

They both went to acting school, but they weren't quite good enough to carry this off.

Police say balloon boy was a bust, a made-up story designed to get Richard and Mayumi Heene a reality TV show.

Using their sons as props in a poorly-produced one act play, it took a question from Wolf Blitzer to little six-year-old Falcon to expose the whole ruse. And when the family went on television to talk about it, little Falcon, who knew it was all a lie, got sick and threw up-twice. But that didn't stop the attention-starved Richard Heene from trying desperately to be noticed. Now he has been, but not the way he wanted.

Police say the investigation is still under way and charges are likely for several felonies: conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and attempting to influence a public servant. There could also be a misdemeanor charge for filing a false police report.

The most serious charges carry a maximum sentence of six years in prison and a $500,000 fine. Federal charges are possible as well. Whatever it adds up to it isn't enough.

Authorities also want the taxpayers' money back that was spent on this wild goose chase. In addition to local police and first responders, the National Guard mobilized two helicopters in a rescue attempt.

A lawyer for the Heenes says they're not "running from the law" and if a warrant is issued they will turn themselves in.

Here’s my question to you: Should the balloon boy's parents face criminal prosecution?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Darl says:
I have many years experience in the mental health field, particularly with abused children. This is a family at-risk and they are most at-risk from the parents, specifically the clearly unstable father. Whether or not they face criminal prosecution, first and foremost these kids need to be removed from his care.

Kurtis from New Haven says:
Jack, Time to send them a bill and move on. Jail? Really? Is that what we've come to? It reminds me of April Fools Day. Everyone's all snickers and giggles until the joke is on them. Then it's revenge. They pulled one over on us. Get over it.

Doug from Dallas says:
Considering the effort and dollars expended for the fraud perpetrated, yes. They should be made to repay all of the costs associated with the entire hoax. But they sure did get what they wanted thanks to the news media. Are you guys going to send them a bill?

Tom says:
Jack, I see two people picking up trash along side the highway in Ft. Collins, Colorado for a long time.

Catrina from Virginia says:
Too bad they can’t just be banned from appearing on TV. Somehow I think for these people that would be the worst punishment of all.

Sue says:
Absolutely! What if there was a true emergency elsewhere while these officials were off chasing this guy's attention-seeking balloon, or if some of the rescuers had crashed? They definitely need to repay the costs of the rescue operation at the very least.

Jim from Chicago says:
Jack, I would give these reality show publicity hounds all the attention that they crave. Let's start with an appearance for them on "COPS" followed by "Lockup."

Jay says:
They should be prosecuted and if found guilty, strapped into a weather balloon and set adrift.

Filed under: Balloon Boy
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Ed from the Four Corners

    If this balloon deal was staged for a publicity stunt, yes the balloon boy's parents should be prosecuted. There were any number of search and rescue people and aircraft involved in trying to find the supposedly lost, injured or dead boy. If his parents are so stupid as to stage such a hoax, they need to face charges.

    October 19, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  2. Antonio from Washington D.C.

    Yes, because they did stupid and idiotic move. Don't mess with people's heads. That is why you should think before you act! It doesn't take rocket science to understand that!

    October 19, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  3. Gail, Plano,Texas

    Jack: I knew on Thursday that it was a hoax. At first I was amazed that CNN would have continuous coverage of such an asinine event. Why got covered it would be a better question. And then to keep interviewing the family. Well, poor judgment on the news channels' heads. Why prosecute these fools? The American public has been duped because of the 24 hour news cycle! And stop talking about the family. No one really cares.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
  4. Slotl, Marietta, Ga

    Yes!! No question!!

    But.....I also blame the media who are looking for a news story to fill some on air time.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  5. Sue in Los Angeles, CA

    What they did was wrong and they should be required to pay all the expenses incurred for the search and rescue effort, along with serving many community service hours. I don't think criminal prosecution is worthy of tax payer dollars, save jail for the real criminals.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  6. T.Thomas Abilene Tx.

    They should have already been prosecuted – when they released video of themselves chasing storms with their kids in the car.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  7. Susan Frost

    Homeland Security, NORAD, the Colorado Army National Guard, the Sheriff's Department – all these resources were tied up for hours in an attempt to "save" the boy who hiding in the attic while his goofy parents staged a publicity stunt. What if there'd been a REAL emergency to which these rescuers could not respond because they were chasing a damn balloon? What if someone had been injured or killed pursuant to their efforts? These two nutballs need to be locked up, surgically sterilized and prevented from ever having contact with their kids again.

    Tuscaloosa AL

    October 19, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  8. David Gerstenfeld

    A precedent needs to be set for those who put other peoples lives at stake purely for their narcisistic egos. What if a search & rescue plane had an accident or was needed elsewhere in a real life or death situation.
    David, Las Vegas

    October 19, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  9. TheDimmitt

    Yes they should face criminal charges. he said there was a Million volt power supply on that balloon. Somehow no one ever mentions that. Now a Balloon with that much power could really mess up a old lady's trip to Church in Colorado. Besides a six year old sleeping in there could be electrocuted!!!! ZAPP!! They should lock them both up.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:14 pm |
  10. Mode (PDX, OR)

    No, the balloon boy's parents should not face criminal prosecution. To prosecute his parents would cost the taxpayers more, to punish someone who had no criminal intentions. Better to have the Courts go after people who are truly endangering the public welfare.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  11. James W. Hawkins


    I don't know if this silly saga can be called a "crime" per se, but the parents should definitely be held accountable for a stunt that put civil aviation in danger in the area and for all the precious resources that were deployed and wasted. All that for their attempt at fame? Come on, the parents need a harsh lesson. Not to mention all other wannabes.

    Woody in Alexandria, Egypt

    October 19, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  12. Liz from Winterset, Iowa

    Yes, they should face criminal prosecution. They devoured resources, time, etc...of important rescue workers. They should face a hefty fine, pay restitution to cover the cost of the rescue workers to county, state, etc...and get a few years probation. They shouldn't go to jail. That would just punish the kids.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  13. Rich


    While it broke up the programming a bit for us viewers, a complimentary invoice (for emergency resources they tapped into) on behalf of taxpayers, certainly. Criminal prosecution, absolutely not, unless we're also going to send indictments over to the Fat Cats on Wall Street, and yes , one more to that knucklehead "Bear Grylls wannabe". What's his name? Grape? Flake? Nothing better to do during America's economic transformation that play Gilligan.

    I love my country, although can we make the caste system anymore blantant than it already is?

    ps- I like your candor Jack, keep it going'

    Pasadena, MD

    October 19, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  14. Bee Hilderbaum

    Yes,of course:They broke several laws and should therefore prosecuted.Also their children should either be taken away from them or get mandatory therapeutic psychological treament.
    From Germany.
    PS I watch CNN regulary,had turned into this bolloon happening by chance,was breathlessly awed by it all,prayed and then was sooooooo stunned by the mother's response of"You DID???",when Falcon was asked:"Didn't you hear us call you?"and he said"Yes".
    That was WAY after he had been"found".
    I as a mother would have asked him that right after and would have had my answer WAY before a reporter asked.That "You did?"was so weird that even though I did not want to belive in a hoax,I could help BUT.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  15. David

    Yes they should. And any TV station that gives them a reality show should be boycotted. You can`t reward bad behavior. These people tied up a lot of search and rescue people from doing their job when they might have been needed elsewhere. Also, these people are exploiting their kids, just like Jon and Kate did. Maybe if the courts and child welfare start stepping in to these matters, people won`t be exploiting their children for America`s entertainment.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  16. Phil in Long Beach, California

    No, but they should be required to do some community service as an example to the kids that this sort of behavior comes with a price. The public shaming will be punishment enough.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  17. Duane

    Ahhhh......in a word YES!!!

    October 19, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  18. Maria

    If they contrived to pull this stunt to make money for a reality show, of course they should be made to reimburse all first responder services for their costs.
    When are people going to get a grip, get a life, and get involved in our country?



    October 19, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  19. Gerry In Toronto

    My mind says absolutely, but every time I look at those sweet kids, my heart says no way.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  20. Al, Lawrence KS

    I wasted an entire afternoon glued to the images of a UFO shaped balloon float across the Colorado landscape...I'm not going to waste another moment on this story...ooops, guess I just did....ok, but that's the last time.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  21. SLM

    No, they should pay all the expenses and pick up trash along the side of the road with Charlie Rangel. Jail should be reserved for violent offenders.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:29 pm |
  22. Russ in PA

    For what? For perpetrating a fraud? Then why don't our politicians face prosecution for their actions? How about prosecuting the FED for debasing our currency. How about prosecuting all of those that voted for the Patriot Act? How about prosecuting all of those the voted for bail outs?

    What? they were doing all that for our good? Sure, they were...

    October 19, 2009 at 1:34 pm |
  23. Cheryl

    Yes. In a time when social services are being cut for economical reasons, this family ran up a huge bill at the taxpayers' expense just for publicity.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:37 pm |
  24. Carlos Round Rock, Texas

    Jack I do think they should. If they in fact staged this hoax and at this point it looks like they did do so. They show a lack of concern for anyone but themselves. They also show failure to control their children. They are both in alot of trouble in at least two counties the state of Colorado and with the FAA not to mention the cost for such reaction by authorites. The fines could bankrupt them and charges with jail time could cause them to turn over their children to child portection division of the State or County. It appears all this was done for money for a reality show well let them face the reality now.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:37 pm |
  25. Jackie in Dallas

    If there is significant evidence of a crime, yes. I wish that the public would stop second-guessing the law enforcement people, however. We as a people are forgetting that EVERYONE is presumed innocent until proven guilty. It isn't supposed to be the other way around!

    October 19, 2009 at 1:38 pm |
  26. Adam Simi Valley, CA

    Absolutely. They wasted valuable resources. They got wasted the time of support from Fire, Police and other emergency services. They also forced the Denver airport to reroute airtraffic because of their foolishness. Who knows how to quantify the actual losses due to their idiocy. Send, at least, the father to jail.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:42 pm |
  27. JENNA

    Should the balloon boy's parents face criminal prosecution?

    What will that really accomplish? They should just pay for all the money spent to track him down. That will be punishment enough.

    Roseville CA

    October 19, 2009 at 1:42 pm |
  28. Tom, Avon, Me, The Heart of Democracy

    If we're not going to bother prosecuting Bush and Cheney for their wild goose chase in Iraq which cost a trillion dollars, why in the world would we bother prosecuting the Heene family for their measly million dollar fiasco that cost zero lives?

    October 19, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  29. Terry in Hanover County

    No, but they should be liable for the expense incurred by local, State and Federal rescuers. Additionally, Child Protective Services need to stay involved in this case for several months and determine if the father has an anger management problem as he demonstrated when he blamed his wife for not securing the line to the balloon. Was he acting or out of control? I don't know but I do know what it's like being a child abused by a rage-aholic parent. The children need protection, not just from the media but possibly from their father.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  30. Lois, Ont., Canada

    They got thier 15 min. of fame & they should pay for in some way. Criminal prosecion seems a 'harsh'.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  31. Cathy

    Yes the parents should face prosecution, and be held liable for
    all costs of personnel and equipment used. It bothers me more
    when parents exploit their children for attention and money.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
  32. JD In NH

    Yes. And send them a bill for all the people chasing their empty balloon.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:49 pm |
  33. bill from North Carolina

    Jack: Absolutly they should face some kind of prosecution. I think it should be fines though,not jail time. Just look at the danger the rescue people faced with all of those vehicles involved. Helicopters could have crashed into each other or sucked the balloon into the rotors or who knows what all could have happened. Maybe this guy will have to go to work now. It seems that he might be allergic to real work.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:50 pm |
  34. eric- hampton va

    Yep, they need a good healthy batch of american justice, jail time!

    October 19, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  35. Flo

    Those parents should face commitment in the nearest mental institution.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:52 pm |

    YES!! Not only because I don't think the boy lied when he said his dad told him it was for the show, but because I really LOVED what that boy did to all those superstitious US-citizens who believe in Aliens (taking the boy into universe) HAHAHAHAHA Wasn't THAT a really good joke? That boy reminds me of who I was as a boy: I also did things like that boy did and (to) let other people suffer! I STILL LOVE THAT! But now it is SO DISAPPOINTING it was his dad who taught about this joke, cos all that fun is gone! So, yes, I think you should put at least his dad into jail! Not for telling (him) to do so, but for ruining my fun about this joke!

    October 19, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  37. Peg from NY

    Yes! Absolutely! No one should ever be remotely able to do this sort of thing ever again. They must be held accountable for their actions and all that ensued.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  38. MissLiz from Everett, MA

    Watch your program almost every day. It is so refreshing to see that not everyone has a cookie cutter opinion of all things political and otherwise. YES, these parents should be fined heavily as well as be convicted of some heavy duty charges. We have to show an example to discourage any other nut jobs out there of similiar actions. If they wanted had time on their hands why not take the sons to the local food bank and volunteer some time. They will see sights there they will not soon forget. Thank heavens no one in the rescue operation was hurt by the parents temporary moment of insanity. Their version of the justification of such a fool hardy stunt is not even worth the print or the tv stations time - there is no justification - just free publicity which was their goal.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  39. Silvana from Canada

    Hi Jack, Heck Yes they should be prosecuted! I fell for the scam too until I watched Wolf's interview last week. The fact that they thought they could actually pull it off - unbelievable - terrible that they involved their children. That's what bothers me the most. Kids would be better off as wards of the State, and the parents should be put in their Jiffy Pop contraption and flown far far away. The mother has previously stated that she and her husband believe they are descendants of aliens - well, lets ship them back. Good riddance!!

    October 19, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  40. Stafford Hokie

    Start by having the mental magnets pay for all expense incurred to look for the ghost son!!! Second, assess the cost of jailing the parents. Should the kids pay for the stupidity of Daddy and his need for attention?

    A mild stoning will do !!!!

    October 19, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  41. Leslie

    If they do then the media should be in the same boat with them for blowing this up like this.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  42. Vivian Fauntleroy, Largo MD

    Jack, unless you are asking whether we should pre-pardon the boy's parents, your question is not logical. If the parents are deemed to have violated city, state, or federal laws, do not those very same laws require that they be prosecuted? Perhaps you meant to ask whether the parents should be persecuted and run out of town on a rail for involving their children in their foolish, vain, and misguided attempt to seize celebrity by its tail at the expense of the safety and emotional health of their children.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  43. kk/ohio

    If it was a hoax-yes-it caused major confusion and a total waste of manpower.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  44. Lori - PA

    Yes they should. They should also have to pay restitution.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  45. Fred R Deleon

    No a criminal prosecution. They didn't tell the truth to the police and that is bad. But by the other hand if they go to jail their children would be the ones to pay the bill. No.....They must face the consecuences and must pay a fine. After all the boy is safe.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:02 pm |

    Of course they should. This cheap stunt wasn't so cheap for the rest of us. They should be charged with a crime.

    See how the media was sucked in? Kinda reminds me of how it helped sucker us all in to Iraq.

    Media should be left for professionals, not ambulance chasers.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:02 pm |
  47. Tom in Desoto, Tx

    Yes, it obviously was a hoax. The floating item had to be deliberately filled with lighter than air substance, which is not natural. Add a child and wa-la we have TV coverage, Newspapers, reality program is around the corner. I watch the adults interviewed on the news once, he never said a word and always looked down.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  48. Joe CE

    Probably not worth it. unless they have moiney. If they had accurately described the ballon, it was apparent from the early pictures that there was no basket or gondola. Therefore the boy could not have been aboard. When the vballon landed, rescurers hacked open the sealed collar thinking that boy might be inside. The cost to the public after the first 10 minutes should be paid by the parents.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  49. sheryn Juneau Alaska

    Balloon Boy and his family and their attorney should not profit from this experience. Did they get payment for the ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN interviews? If so, the money should be paid to cover the expenses for the search and rescue efforts. The parents showed greed and poor judgment–they should be used as an example so that others do not see the profit that can be made if a person is in the limelight or news.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:05 pm |
  50. Tina Tx

    The safety of your children should always be the number 1 priority instead of the all mighty dollars that you could get from some stupid reality show. You not making ends meet? Pick up cans along the highway that are slung out the windows of lazy Americans and yes they need to be charged and forced to pay the debt of the police and authority workers who had to go out to stop & look for the runaway balloon and the not on board child. It is not the kid's fault, Mr Henee you are just not teaching the kid the right way of life.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:05 pm |
  51. Doug - Dallas, TX

    Considering the effort and dollars expended for the fraud perpetrated, yes. They should be made to repay all of the costs associated with the entire hoax. But they sure did get what they wanted thanks to the news media. Are you guys going to send them a bill?

    October 19, 2009 at 2:05 pm |
  52. Dennis

    Jack, even if you overlook the amount of national attention this story recieved in national news coverage alone, there is one thing you can not overlook at all. The emotions of millions of viewers who looked on, hoping and praying that a six year old child would somehow be found alive and well. I know what my wife and I felt as we watched in disbelief as this story broke and we too were afraid of what the end result could have been.We get enough bad news on a daily basis as it is. So I say , throw the book at them and let the law educate those who would dare try this irresponsable or more to the point, just plain stupid act, again.

    Dennis / Hartsville,Tn.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  53. Satine

    Yes! It's irresponsible, when people are struggling to make ends meet, and this country needs every citizen to work towards a better future, that atten seeking idiots, waste our precious resources. They need to be responsible.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  54. Jared

    Sure they should Jack. Its time for people to take responsibility for their actions. Let's give them the reality TV show they were wanting as well – of course, how interesting would it really be to follow the life of a family behind bars but with all the other lame reality shows Fox has put out over the years, they'll probably step up to the plate on this one as well.

    Austin, TX

    October 19, 2009 at 2:09 pm |
  55. Melissa

    The city, state, and federal governments spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, mobilizing everything from police, ambulance, fire departments, and military craft to try to catch that balloon before a child got hurt. Of course they should be prosecuted. What they did wasn't just lying, it was the equivalent to theft of millions from a nearly bankrupt government.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:10 pm |
  56. Dennis in Cleveland,Ohio

    DEFINITELY! What a waste of Manpower just to get their 15 minutes of fame. The parents should also be held liable for all costs in wasting the time of all involved. This craziness has got to STOP!

    October 19, 2009 at 2:13 pm |
  57. Michael in Albuquerque,NM

    They should be sentenced to never appearing on television again.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  58. Ms Lou from Fayetteville, NC

    Take their children from them.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:16 pm |
  59. Michelle

    Yes. I saw an interview earlier this morning with a man who falsely claimed to the American public in the 1970s that he would be writing a biography about the reclusive Howard Hughes. The man said he thought the Heene incident was similarly just "fun and games." Is it just fun and games to use your children for a publicity stunt, to teach them to lie for fifteen seconds of fame, to treat their well-being with such disregard that it is used as a hoax? I think not, and it looks like I'm not alone.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:16 pm |
  60. Joanne B

    Absolutely ! They also should be required to go to at least a Psychologoist as there is a marble loose thinking they would not be caught. I"m amazed these days w/all the technologies and science we have that people think they can "get away with whatever their crime is".

    October 19, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  61. Sam

    Of course they should face criminal prosecution. A crime is a crime, and they shouldn't get let off the hook! However, the penalties should be no more than a misdemeanor, and definitely not felony charges leading to jail time. We have much larger issues facing this country than a kid (NOT) in a balloon! The parents should pay fines to the state and county for the level of personnel they provided, but nothing more, in my opinion.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:19 pm |
  62. Mageen in Old Virginia

    Jack! Honestly! You had to ask? I'm surprised the kids have not yet been removed from that house! Sure, dad is an adrenline junkie, but what about mom? Where was her brain in all of this mess?

    October 19, 2009 at 2:19 pm |
  63. Remo from beautiful downtown Pflugerville, Tx.

    Jack, If it can be proven a hoax, Hell yes! How many law enforcement agencies were involved? How much "hard to find" tax payer money was spent? What mentality would push this on a family?

    October 19, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  64. Anne

    Absolutely. What kind of "parenting style" involves subjecting your children to danger (tornadoes, hurricanes) and insists on the children telling lies to bolster their father's desperate need for fame and attention?

    I feel for the six-year-old who was forced to lie. He threw up in the middle of a live tv interview. He had to have known that what he did was wrong.

    What's really wrong are the parents this poor child has.


    October 19, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  65. Bizz, Quarryville, Pennsylvania

    A family shouldn't be destroyed unless the district Atty. feels he has strong evidence to prosecute. If the parents of these three boys truly committed a hoax just to get a reality show, then they should be prosecuted for all the money it cost, not counting the lives they put in jeopardy making people think there was a six year old boy in the balloon. I remember back when a security guard during the Olympics in Atlanta was unmercifully prosecuted by the news media and his life ruin only to find out he was innocent. I think the news media needs to be careful on how they report this story.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:22 pm |
  66. Richard, Syracuse, NY

    If there is enough evidence to prove this was a Hoax they should not only be charged but they should also be billed for every penny of the cost incurred by the Tax Payers for their hoax.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
  67. Christian the Great

    Yes. The event proves that they will do anything for fame, whether fool a nation or try to tarnish a child's moral. Good for you Falcon for telling the truth. Also, the event proves who is the real child?

    October 19, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  68. Jane (Minnesota)

    Yes they should, but so should the media that encourages this outragous behavior by giving it so much coverage. If you don't sensationalize it – may most of it will go away.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  69. Lucy

    I am torn on this one. On one hand, thinking about the welfare of the children, the psychological impact of having your parents face criminal prosecution and most likely being taken away from them if convicted would be traumatic. On the other hand, if these people faced no consequences they would most likely engage in similar type of behavior and put the children at even more psychological risk, so they may be better off with another family and the parents convicted. As for me personally, I would love to see these attention-grabbing over-grown children that are the Heene parents learn a hard lesson: the world doesn't, and shouldn't revolve around them. Prosecute them.
    SF, CA

    October 19, 2009 at 2:37 pm |
  70. John from Alabama

    Jack: Yes, but it is only a misdemeaner with a small fine. Civil Court is a place where these two so called parents will lose their shirts. They will have to pay for all the time law enforcement and the army national guard for it's time and use of helicopters. It will be real expensive for them. I can see for sale signs in front of the house and on their car or cars. They should have shipped the little boy off to grandma's house.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  71. Jeff in Houston

    Absolutely. Any adult gullable enough to be taken in by the reality TV craze as means of getting ahead has a worse gambling problem than the people who play the lottery. If one, just one, law enforcement individual had been hurt in this process, even indirectly, then justice would not be swift enough. I also question if those children should be allowed to stay with those parents.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:40 pm |
  72. Ted, Aloha, OR

    Criminal prosecution? ?That would be like taking very stern action on his kids when they pull stuff like this. It's his extreme permissiveness that contributes to their "get away with anything" attitude. Later in life the grown up kids will suffer for it when they learn the real world doesn't operate that way. The father needs to attend kindergarten again and re-learn the basic rules. Things like:
    Play fair.
    Don't hit people.
    Put things back where you found them.
    Clean up your own mess.
    Don't take things that aren't yours.
    Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
    Wash your hands before you eat.
    For an erramt adult that means spending about 6 months in jail for a re-acquaintenance session.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:41 pm |
  73. MG, Arizona

    Did they commit any murder, rape or robbery? Then No. Fine up to couple of thousand dollars should suffice, if proven guilty.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  74. Justin in NC

    You bet they should! As much money as was spent on this and they are still spending investigating should be repayed. I think my employer wants restitution for the two hours I spent watching CNN and not working!

    October 19, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
  75. Iesha Ward - Washington, DC Metro


    Are you kidding me! Absolutely!

    October 19, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  76. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    Of course they should and they need to take their kids away from them as soon as possible. These people are on the edge and unfortunately they had kids. I sure feel sorry for them, the kids that is.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  77. Marianne

    Of course they should be punished. Look at all the man power that was probably used to try to locate that child, not to mention tax payer dollars that were spent. A lost child is no joke and should never be used as a hoax.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  78. Paul, Parry Sound, Ontario

    Just give them the bill.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:50 pm |
  79. Jon Abbott

    Consider the resources used during this little fiasco!
    The media was all over the event!

    YES - definitely, some kind of fine should follow!!

    October 19, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
  80. Jim


    They should face criminal prosecution only if they actually broke one or more laws. They should, however, be required to reimburse any police, fire, or military agencies that expended resources trying to track the balloon and rescue the child. They should not be required to reimburse news media outlets who pursued this story with saliva dripping from their chinny-chin-chins.

    Reno, Nevada

    October 19, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  81. Harold, in ANCHORAGE, AK

    They must remburse all agencies involved in the search for their costs. In addition criminal penalties are in order so there are no copy-cats.In addition, each time rescue are activated the rescuer jeopardizes his own safety, The parents need to be taught a lesson; and shame on them for involving their children in this farce,
    Also,all media should immediately cease coverage on this topic until the trials enter the penlty phase. The parents are getting free publicity.
    Why fan the fire?

    October 19, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  82. Keith Lee

    Hell Yeah. I could never even play with my kids like that, let alone include them in the scam. They need to learn a lesson if no other parent on the planet does.

    Keith from Alabama

    October 19, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  83. Jennifer - Winnipeg

    Not only should they face criminal prosecution, they should have their children taken away. That poor little Falcon was literally throwing up he was so upset by the whole thing. These idiots have risked the health and welfare of their children! Unconscionable! Throw them in the clink.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  84. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    If they can prove that it was a hoax, then by all means nail them. That story used up an awful lot of resources.........if it was a hoax, then those people are criminals.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  85. george charles paree

    These two need to pay for worrys and damages to ploice dept

    October 19, 2009 at 3:02 pm |
  86. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    I think therapy would be more suited for the family! Were they having financial problems or just hooked on being part of the reality shows industry...but then again the country should ask why create reality show beside makiing money; any real i.e. authentic human values from such shows.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  87. Kim in Mpls

    After seeing the Today Show interview, where the boy was throwing up and the father looked at him..... it was not a look of a fathers care for a sick child.

    Instead of stopping the inerview like a real father would have, he looked at him as though the kid was coughing... no big deal.

    I know first hand that some kids can do this at will, give the kid an emmy, the father lessons on lieing and family dynamics and community work along with counsleing for the whole family. Oh You may want to check back on this kids in 5 and 10.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  88. Vinnie Vino


    Not at all, if the individuals that caused the economic melt down of our economy are eluding justice how can the government charge a simple family unit with a criminal crime. However they should have to reinverse the government for the search and pay a fine...

    Vinnie Vino
    Central Islip, N.Y.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:05 pm |
  89. Lance, Ridgecrest, Ca

    Jack, yes, criminal and civil. They should be made to repay all costs associated with the scam, and face jail time. If you have watched the clips with the husband dealing with the recent "Wife swap" woman and with the kids, you can also tell that he is an abusive person. Child services needs to get involved before he decides the kids "caused all this" and really hurts one of them.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:06 pm |
  90. Jan from NJ

    Sure, if there is good evidence to support an arrest. You can't use the citizen's money to boost your tv career. They want TV time, let them have hard time and they will succeed !

    October 19, 2009 at 3:31 pm |
  91. a.c. of La.

    They really should but I doubt they will, knew there was something funky about this story from the get-go.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:34 pm |
  92. Jim from Chicago

    Jack, I would give these reality show publicity hounds all the attention that they crave. Let's start with an appearance for them on "COPS" followed by "Lockup."

    October 19, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  93. DT from Fort Walton Beach, FL

    Yes...nuff said...

    October 19, 2009 at 3:37 pm |
  94. frankie

    If they went to prison, the three boys would be saved from that horrible parenting, and so the whole mess would turn out to have a really worthwhile purpose.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  95. D.A.Emert

    NO WAY watching that empty balloon for hours was the most fun I,ve had in 60 years...

    October 19, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  96. Steve

    It is pathetic that this guy would waste so much of other peoples time and money for his own satisfaction and gain, especially in these tough economic times. If he is found guilty, he should be punished with the maximum penalty. He also has set a very poor example for his childern.

    Laguna Niguel, CA

    October 19, 2009 at 3:41 pm |
  97. Tom K in WA

    The police need to charge them and the DA must file the suit first. Given the current suspicions, I would say yes.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  98. Chipster

    How would we know the answer to that? If the balloon was released to get attention and perhaps a TV appearance, there's nothing criminal in that. That could be all the boy meant when he made his comment. He's a kid. All he knew was that they were doing something to get on TV.

    If they hid the boy and faked alarm at his disappearance, shame on them and they should be punished. However, basing a decision a vague statement by a sleepy child is not sufficient evidence of an attempt at fraud.

    There is such a concept as withholding judgment until the facts are known. It isn't practiced enough these days.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  99. chris

    throw the book at them they staged this all up now they are no where to be found what were they thinking wait it i got it they were not thinking how it effected the rest of us i would pissed off if i was ion denver and my plane got diverted cause of this

    October 19, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  100. Ken in NC

    They used their kids to pull off this stunt. Yes, yes, HELL YES.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  101. Jerry Jacksonville, Fl.

    If they did it as a stunt, yes they should be charged and at the very least have to pay for the cost of the search

    October 19, 2009 at 3:47 pm |
  102. Jimmy in Houston

    Jail time – NO. Heavy fines, pay back all the expenses as a result of the wild goose chase and many hours of community service. Let them do some free work, instead sitting in a jail at our expense.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:48 pm |
  103. Stuart

    And what to do with the kids when the parents are hauled off to Sing Sing? Wards of the State?

    October 19, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  104. Sharon

    Yes. Most definitely.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  105. Tom Sharp


    I see two people picking up trash along side the highway in Ft. Collins CO for a long time.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  106. heloisa

    Yes, they should. Can you imagine if all of us pulled a stunt like that? I guess all the federal agencies would do nothing else, except go after "fake" emergencies. Just horrible!!!!

    October 19, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  107. Bill Duke

    I think that they should be forced to take a real ride on their balloon.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  108. Mike, Buffalo, NY

    Sentence them to family therapy and make them repay the costs incurred by emergency services as a result of their foolishness.

    Don't give them any more air time, that is exactly what they are looking for.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  109. Mike, Vancouver

    Should those who ski out of bounds at ski hills pay for all their rescues. I know the concept is simpler but "YES" they absolutely should. The American public did not ask for this and should not be on the hook for anyu costs. The perpetrators should be charged to the maximum the laws will permit as an example that these types of activities are not permitted.

    They broke laws. If jailtime is warranted, send them there.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  110. JJ

    Yes. Most definitely yes.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  111. Sally

    Of course they should face prosecution, as should the media for clogging up the internet, television, radio and newspaper with this story!

    October 19, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  112. Rob - Canada

    Yes, if they are indeed found guilty of a hoax, the book should be thrown at them. A thorough psychiatric evaluation wouldn't hurt either. They'll get their realty TV show & it'll be on Court TV.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  113. Gary

    They should definately have to pay for all of the public services that were devoted to this issue no matter what the cost.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  114. Gigi Oregon

    Only if congress & the media are charged with criminal charges they have been puting on these one act plays and getting away with them. Who followed this drama, while this country was being eaten up by greed and war.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  115. Mike D

    They should be forced to do something constructive, since they caused such waste with little disregard. They should do community service to help families that are in crisis, and needy kids. And if they every gather ill-gains from thier publicity stun, they should donate it to a worthy cause.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  116. elise

    Of course, and then some. However, would the best punishment be radio silence for these attention seeking idiots?

    October 19, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  117. Jeremy Kinsey

    Having a 6 year old myself, when my dad called and told me to watch this on TV I was stunned, amazed, and scared to death. All I could think about was my kid.

    Aside from the obvious expense, the untold expense and heartache that these parents caused me and so many others who have kids are the ones that ought to be compensated.

    This was a crime against nature and humanity itself. It was deplorable and something that should not go unpunished. They obviously deserve no notoriety, fame, nor fortune as a result of this. Any money they do make should first go to paying for those involved who suffered costs as a result.

    What a bunch of creeps!

    October 19, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  118. Anthony

    Ignore them and please stop talking about them! Deny them the publicity that they seek. That will teach them.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  119. Ken - Durango CO

    Richard Heene should face, what he would consider, the worst possible sentence – the judge should sentence him to have to get a real job until he is 65 years old.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  120. Andy

    The boy's parents are pimps. They were using him to make money, via selling a balloon or getting onto a reality television show, and should be prosecuted accordingly. Also, they should have to pay me for the time I wasted paying attention to this story and can never get back. I'm tired of having people use their children to advance their own lives.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  121. Megan

    NO! The media should face charges for spending HOURS reporting on the balloon and then HOURS defending themselves for reporting on the balloon...honest to PETE!

    October 19, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  122. Mariya

    Absolutely! Put them away and place those 2 on 24-live video camera! Maybe total lack of privacy will be enough to get them fed up with popularity and attention. And take kids to a safer and more sane environment, as far away from these 2 lunatics as possible. People like that should never be allowed to have children around them.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  123. JMD - In Northern VA

    It's simple, they should be "spanked",...vigorously since they are adults, grounded, have their cellphones taken away and no internet browsing, and sent to their rooms for a month or two. Oh! And no popcorn!

    October 19, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  124. Andy

    Community Service, picking up trash and used balloons at clown parties across Colorado

    October 19, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  125. Paul from Phoenix


    First, make them pay back the taxpayers. This is the second airborn incident that cost taxpayers money this year (Air Force One, this is New York City...). Second, charge them. They tried hard to turn their child into their own lying publicity machine. Third, they obviously don't care about their children, so the children should be taken away. until a suitable home is found.

    Paul from Phoenix

    October 19, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  126. Susan

    Absolutely, prosecute them. But make sure the charges fit, so they don't get thrown out and end up just giving these child-endangering narcissists even more free air time. And, of course, they get to pay every penny of the cost of the chase and the search. And while they're at it, they can apologize to MY son, who couldn't stop crying at the thought of the little boy falling out of that balloon.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  127. pravin

    CNN/Blitzer should reward them with a show for successfully pulling the wool over their eyes..self-evident to the myriads of viewers wondering why the "sympathy" and mortified at the "staged" sight of policemen literally hacking a downed balloon. If they really believed there was a 6-year old inside, dead inhaling Helium, they wouldn't hack for fear of mutilating a dead littl boy..

    October 19, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  128. Ritch Flores

    Most definitely! Wasting the time of local and state personnel is not excusable. Maybe this would serve as an example to others who may have the same idea in mind.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  129. Chris

    Not only should they face criminal prosecution, they should be forced to make full restitution to all of the agencies that were involved in the "rescue mission". If they don't have the money now, make sure that it comes out of any proceeds from interviews, books or reality show deals.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  130. Andrew Peake

    Kirksville, MO

    I don't know that I would go so far to say that the couple belongs in jail, but they are clearly liable for the blatantly unnecessary taxpayer costs in the wild goose chase they sent the authorities on. Beyond that, I think the family is overdue for a visit for child services, because they don't seem like fit parents if they are going to use their children for wild publicity stunts.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  131. eveline

    I believe they should be charged and not with just a misdemeanor. I also believe since they cost the counties and cities money for chasing this balloon, they should have to pay for the expenses that were incurred by their stupidity!

    October 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  132. Pete

    They should be given the contract for a reality TV show. As nutty as this family is, I'll tune in!

    October 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  133. Darl Beatty

    I have many years' experience in the mental health field, particularly with abused children. This is a family at-risk and they are most at-risk from the parents, specifically the clearly unstable father. Whether or not they face criminal prosecution, first and foremost these kids need to be removed from his care. He is known to fly into rages, last year faced a domestic violence charge and is more than a little unhinged. No wonder Falcon threw up twice–you've got to be a really frightened little kid to do that. People are missing the point that the Heene children are in an unsafe situation and need to be removed. THEN you can prosecute these nutjobs.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  134. Karen, Idaho Falls, Idaho

    Absolutely they should be prosecuted and they should be required to pay back every cent spent by law enforcement to follow up on their hoax. Maybe if there is some punishment for the parents, the kids will understand that actions have consequence. What a horrible example those parents were for their kids!

    October 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  135. GoPinky

    Sacramento, CA
    I think criminal charges are in order. They wasted public funds and are teaching their children that this is appropriate behavior. We can only hope that they learn by watching their parents pay for their actions.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  136. William Payne

    Here's a better punishment. They want attention. They don't deserve it. Can we please stop giving it to them?

    Los Angeles, CA

    October 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  137. Allan L. Gustafson

    The news media and many others have already tried and convicted this family, I would like to remind all of you of the daycare incident where something stupid came out of a childs mouth and innocent people were prosecuted for child molestation. Lets wait for the facts, if there are any?!

    October 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  138. DJ BALL

    How do you prosecute these fools when President Bush is getting away with torture,mass murder,lying to go to war and war crimes ?

    October 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  139. Rick

    Throw the book at them. We've had enough of these Octomoms, Jon & Kates, etc. Now is the time to discourage additional idiots from seeking their time in the limelight by letting them know that their ridiculous (and occasionally dangerous) behavior will no longer be tolerated. Throw the book at them.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  140. Cynthia

    There should be some sort of criminal charge made against them, plus they should have to make restitution for the expenses expended in searching for a missing boy (their son) who they knew wasn't missing. Using their kids like this borders on abuse in my opinion. Certainly not teaching kids about truth and honesty, merely how 'anything goes' if you get your 15 minutes of fame.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  141. Scott Stagg

    Ignore them. Their 15 minutes is over.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  142. Ian

    We should treat them like anybody else who is believed to have executed a fraud – which is exactly what this is. When an individual (or individuals) notify the authorities of an emergency which is not real, that is a fraudulent action. Emergency personnel must take reports of emergencies as being real, as they did in this case. This requires a great deal of manpower, infrastructure, and, in many cases, risk. Not only does this have an associated cost (which didn't need to be spent) but it takes these important resources away possible real emergencies.

    Investigate them, and put them on trial if there is evidence that they committed this fraud - and then punish them like any other citizen.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  143. Nicholas

    No offense, Jack, but CNN is giving this family just what it wants: non-stop exposure. Yes, they should face criminal prosecution, but NO, it should not be publicized. News outlets keep saying that the country was riveted by this story. Actually, it was only the media that was riveted.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  144. Benton

    You wanted to be famous? Here's your fame. Now, take your fines, go home and raise your children a little bit better and teach them to be productive members of society, unlike what you have failed to accomplish so far.

    St Clair Shores, MI

    October 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  145. Rae from Indiana

    Yes they should, and if it turns out that a media entity knew about it and offered them something for it, they should be hit with a heavy fine and exposed.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  146. Sally Enright

    Just when we think that we have seen it all...we see complete idiots "raising" children...no wonder the world is so screwed up. OF COURSE, punish them...throw the balloon at them...

    October 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  147. Sharon

    Yes they should, I don't know about the rest of the nation, but my heart was in my throat when the balloon came down and the boy was not in it. I feared that the ballon had dropped him somewhere from over a 1000 feet in the air. This was a cruel hoax, and could be have lasting effects on the child. He was throwing up on the morning show, no doubt the stress of having to lie was getting to him. The cost of all the man power to try and rescue this little boy should also be the parents responsiblity.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  148. Tim

    They should absolutely face criminal prosecution. For one thing, their selfishness tied up emergency services across a broad area of Colorado for several hours, not only costing taxpayers money, but also raising the risk that people who genuinely needed help from police or fire departments might not get it.

    Whether anyone actually waited longer for help is irrelevant. The danger was there, and will be again the next time some nut pulls a similar stunt. This kind of crazy, selfish behavior should not be tolerated, and should not go without penalties.

    The question is not whether they should face prosecution. The question is, why shouldn't they face prosecution? I can't think of a single good reason.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  149. Bryan (St. Louis, MO)

    They should absolutely be prosecuted. How many people who were in real need of emergency response that day had to deal with delays because of these two?

    October 19, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  150. Budday Atwood

    Should the balloon baoys parents be prosecuted? That's like asking if Custer had too many Indians!! Of course they should be prosecuted. If they are not punished for abusing the children and the emergency response units, then what keeps every publicity seeking yo-yo in lala land from striving to be even more outrageous.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  151. Ian

    This group poses no danger to the community..

    Perhaps some oversight to ensure the family is treating each other properly and a slap on the wrist with a stern warning is in order in my opinion.

    The ordeal lasted all of two or three hours.. lets not lose sight of that fact. Its been overblown.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  152. Ed in Virginia

    Real simple. Require them to reimburse all of the costs of the rescue attempt.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  153. Ray in Nashville

    Yes, Jack, and any money these people earn from this story should be confiscated to help pay for the expense of the rescue operation.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  154. Tony P.

    I hope rumors of a felony indictment are true. This is crying wolf in the worst way.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  155. Randy

    Of course they need to be. If not, expect more of these reckless and selfish hoaxes.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  156. Gabrielle

    It's sick, dishonest and fraudulent to exlpoit your child for personal gratification. Karma is giving them what they deserve....yes, they are getting their extra 15 minutes of fame, they are getting the press and hopefully some arrest warrents and some counseling for their children

    October 19, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  157. Dawn in Atlanta

    Absolutely! Or better yet put the parents in a balloon and ship them off the news and our lives along with Jon & Kate. Neither of these four should be parents.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  158. Patton

    Absolutely. But, allow them to admit guilt for a plea deal. They lose face. They agree to pay fines to cover the cost they generated. They get probation for a few years.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  159. David O

    I'm not 100% sure about crimial prosecution yet... but, any parents that willingly drove their 3 children into the eye of a hurricane AND gleefully videotaped it should be checked out by child protection services. These boys are definately not in safe hands with their "parents".

    October 19, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  160. Valerie

    From Chicago, Illinois.

    Of course these parents should be prosecuted.
    This little stunt cost taxpayer's money all for the "benefit" of themselves.

    When are we going to make each other ACCOUNTABLE for our actions??!

    October 19, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  161. Karen Glenview, IL

    Absolutely, they should fact criminal charges/prosecution. I feel badly for their children, but perhaps the children will learn that this type of behavior is wrong, on all levels, if their parents have to face the music.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  162. jim

    Absolutely, they should also have to pay for the costs.
    It is also pretty obvious the Heenes are slightly to moderately disturbed. Falcon and his brothers should be protected form them.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  163. Karrie

    I do not feel anything good will come of putting the Heen's in jail. What they need is parenting classes and counseling, and their flying saucer license revoked.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  164. Jenny

    I hope the parents don't go to prison for Falcon's sake. I feel he would be traumatized and feel responsible because of his answer to Wolf Blitzer that alerted authorities to the hoax. The Heenes should definitely pay back the expenses and perform community service. That would be a lesson the children could learn from and hopefully help them become responsible adults, since the parents are not setting very good examples.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  165. Tony

    Hell yes they should be charged and at the least made to pay back the tax-payers for the money that was spent on this whole mess. How stupid do they think we are?? Come on!!

    October 19, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  166. Terry, Chandler AZ

    Yes they should as well as facing civil charges to pay for expenses occurred by agencies, including television networks. Perhaps the worst punishment would be for him to never see a television camera again. He loves sure loves the camera.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  167. Tracy

    Yes, absolutely!!

    I'd also like to see a more in-depth investigation by Child Protective Services. A child throwing up at a question? Twice? To me, that indicates severe psychological trauma–and I don't think it's just because the boy knew it was a lie.

    There's also a police report of domestic violence along with Richard Heene's erratic behavior and outbursts of anger. The pieces are there. Someone needs to protect these kids!

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  168. Steve

    Are you kidding me? These parents are so flaky, they need to be put under the jail. THis is so sad that these media-driven celebrity obsessed-flakes should use their kids as props to get another "reality show". I got a great idea, prison, the ultimate reality. You get to "star" in your very own "surviver" seris in jail.
    Throw the book at these people. All the volunteers looking for the boy, the disruption to DIA, the money to mobilize the resources, and if you don't come down hard, the first responders may say we will wait to make sure it is the real thing.

    Steve in Louisiana
    Where reality still exists

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  169. Marilyn Jones Ladig- Los Angeles

    Criminal prosecution would primarily get them more attention. They should be investigated and monitored by child protective services and ordered to take some parenting classes.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  170. Navid


    If these parents are convicted then they must pay back all the taxpayer costs, and I mean all.

    I would not recommend that they go to jail as jail will bring them food and safety at the expense of taxpayers.

    Thank you,

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  171. Lauren

    Absolutely, they should face charges and definitely have to repay any cost associated with the rescue effort. I would also question their parenting abilities since they instructed their 6 year old to lie to athorities.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  172. Rick

    They should be prosecuted for all available charges; they should be expected to pay back the money spent by law enforcement for the search; child services should investigate and, if warranted, remove the children.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  173. Michael

    I have this crazy idea that people are innocent until proven guilty by a court of law (as opposed to the media). That being the case, if a grand jury is presented the evidence and they return a judgement that the case should go to trial then, yes, they should face prosecution. If a jury of their peers finds them guilty then, yes, they should be punished. But let's let the system do the prosecuting and not the media.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  174. Joe

    Yes. Their hoax caused public resources to be diverted to their publicity stunt which may have been needed elsewhere to deal with actual crisis. I also believe the children should be placed with fit parents who wont exploit them for personal fame.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  175. Pericles

    The Heene's should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and they should be forced to pay back the entire costs incurred by any local, state or federal agency as a result of their hoax. It is time that we as a people, begin to demonstrate personal responsibility. That includes not creating elaborate hoaxes that cost thousands of dollars in tax payer money just to get more attention. I am also very concerned for the well being of those three children.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  176. julie

    They should pay a LARGE fine and do community service. They should also be publically humiliated non-stop so them and many others like them will think twice about being/becoming "reality" stars.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  177. Jim Johnson

    Prosecuting them wastes more time and money and keeps this story alive even longer. I am tired of hearing about this. I think these people will suffer enough in their ongoing humiliation. I like the idea of making them pay all costs involved in order to avoid prosecution.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  178. ZKD

    If we think through this logically to be fair to everyone (i.e. the kids, tax payers, search parties), if proven guilty then:

    Do not send the parents to prison and instead fine Richard and Mayumi with whatever money was spent searching for Falcon because of this publicity stunt they pulled. This will send a right message to the parents, anyone else who was thinking of pulling such a stunt and at the same time will ensure that the kids have parents who are there to take care of them and not in prison.


    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  179. Dan


    Criminal prosecution and repayment of the money needed to pay for the emergency resources expended during this stupid stunt. A stay in a mental ward may not be such a bad idea either; who in their right mind would use their children in such a manner?

    I feel bad for his son who will now forever be known as "balloon boy". Sadly, I can see this bozo trying to somehow capitalize on his son from that angle...

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  180. Steve Bomar

    Here is my response: I felt punched in the gut, as if it were my own son, when I read the possibility of the 6 yr old falling from the sky. I empathized...deeply. And actually shed a tear ot two – thinking of how I'd feel were it my own son.

    And then to find it a hoax. Gut-punched twice. But the second one was the kind that makes one fed up and throws you into a wild frenzy of counter-punches. How dare this famly seek to advance themselves in this manner. They are worthy of every bit of scorn that comes their way over this.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  181. christina

    Their punishment should be reimbursing every person who assisted in the search for their son. That includes reimbursement for both time and money. For example, if a neigbhor spent 4 hours that day searching for Falcon, then the parents should do 4 hours of service for that person. Whether its scrubbing toliet bowls, doing lawn work, etc.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  182. Paras

    I think they should be thrown into Jail for misleading authorities for atleast 5 years. Their sentence should be an example to everyone, making it clear that you cannot play with the law for your personal benefit.

    I feel sorry for the children though.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  183. Tim NJ

    This is simple Jack....Give them a hefty bill to cover the expenses of EMS and the National Guard helicopter and charge them with filing a false police report. Case closed. No need to turn this into a federal felony case.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  184. Ben DeBacco

    I say the entire family needs psychological testing. These children are obviously in danger just living with Mr. and Mrs. Heene.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  185. barbara - Seattle

    If it has been established without a daubt that the parents are guilty of this issue, they should be made to pay for the expense associated with it. I do not believe that taking the children away is the answer, unless there is proof of wrongdoing, however,the parents should be warned of consequences, should there be other stunts such as this.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  186. Eddie

    Yes, they should face criminal charges. And in addition to paying for the direct cost of their stunt, we should file a class action civil suit against them to re-coop the money of lost wages when our office, along with many others (I presume), stopped working to follow the whereabouts of poor, little Falcon. They preyed upon our sympathy in an attempt to further their career choice. It cost us time.

    Eddie – St. Petersburg, FL

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  187. Kevin - Boston, MA

    YES – Nothing Follows.....

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  188. Michelle

    If the "Runaway Bride" was held accountable for making a false police report, then for gosh sakes - so should the Heenes! The caliber of the "Balloon Boy" spectacle far eclipses hers... and this one had children involved.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  189. Kurtis from New Haven

    Jack, time to send them a bill and move on. Jail? Really? Is that what we've come to? It reminds me of April Fool's Day. Everyone's all snickers and giggles until the joke is on them. Then it's revenge. They pulled one over on us. Get over it.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  190. Ron from Colorado

    Well, considering the level of wrongdoing afoot in the republic, this is small potatoes. That said, the Heenes are going to cash in on this regardless, so the good people of Colorado should get a piece of the action, in the form of some nice, fat fines. I say throw the book at them!

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  191. Ealing Canuck

    I personnallt found the whole matter quite delightful in that the baloon escape caught the imagination of just about everyone. It seem from the video of the baloon that there was no way anyone could have crawled into the base compartment, ;et alone a little boy. The parents are clearly hosers and should be spanked publicly but I don't think the bupbkic would want to throw them in jail and place their kids in foster homes. No they should be made to contribute any proceeds from this hoax to a local charity so that no one else is encouraged to abuse the media who are only too eager to swallow some bogus, yet compelling Wizard of Oz type story to sell air time.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  192. Jay Dean

    The should be prosecuted and if found guilty, strapped into a weather balloon and set adrift.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  193. Joy Zerba

    They both should be charged. Also, there was a family who had their whole wheat ruined by all the rescue vehicles...they should be compensated first, then the Police.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  194. Terri, PA

    Yes. Also he should reimburse all costs incurred. I also find it insulting to everyone that was worried about his son all for him to get attention.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  195. gecko


    October 19, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  196. George Anderson

    Yes. The parents should be held responsible not only to pay for the cost incurred by taxpayers to search for the balloon & child but for the wasted man hours that could have been served protecting & serving the public of "we the people". People who have a desire for publicity should be held accountable for their selfish & serious acts of irresponsibility. Where is their maturity, their good judgement, their concern for people who spent time trying to find & save their 6 year boy?! We live in a serious world with serious issues, especially after 911. We{ Americans & the world} cannot afford this flagrant display of self-seeking their 15 minutes of fame, in the spotlight.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  197. Sue

    Absolutely! What if there was a true emergency elsewhere while these officials were off chasing this guy's attention seeking balloon..
    or if some of the rescuers had crashed – They definately need to repay the costs of the rescue operation at the very least

    Sue Dallas

    October 19, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  198. Jon

    I never watched a "reality" show on TV. I always used TV to get AWAY from reality. That being said, maybe some folks would get a kick out of watching the parents in their own Reality Show while in prison, all proceeds of the show to go to acting classes for the reality impaired.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  199. Michael

    I would suggest putting them in that balloon for 4 hours.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  200. Andrew

    There are two sad truths exposed in this story. The first is of course the lengths that some egotistical people will go to in order to get noticed. The second is the distractability of the media. The first thing I thought of when I noticed the story is that it could be a diversion so that someone somewhere could go and blow something up. Oh, and "yes," they should be made an example of and prosecuted. Otherwise, what's to deter others from committing similar offenses?

    Columbus, Ohio

    October 19, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  201. dennis honan

    Well – of course they should, assumed they commited the crimes as charged and they should make restitution. I am not sure putting them in prison, however, would be in the best interest of their children, who are already suffering. I'd suggest extensive mental health and parenting classes to help them work through whatever issues they have.

    From Hampton, NH

    October 19, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  202. Rick McDaniel / Lewisville, TX

    I think they should have to pay restitution for the costs incurred, and should have to perform significant public service, as punishment.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  203. Cate

    are you kidding me? of course they should. and thats still not enough. what are they teaching their kids? and after the criminal prosecution, there should be an additional punishment of them never being allowed to make money off of this escapade, never have a reality show, and never ever be seen on a tv or print ad again. they will simply fade into oblivion where they belong. of course that will never happen and theirs will be the new show premiering in the spring.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  204. Susan from Twin Falls Idaho

    They should lock them both up and throw away the key. These three boys have two strikes against them. Let someone with ethics raise them. These parents are moronic cheaters and that's their good points.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  205. Tricia McKean

    Absolutely. They are teaching their children that it's ok to lie, manipulate and do anything they want in order to get what they want. They should be prosecuted and made to pay back every cent that was spent on this whole ordeal. They have done ireversable damage to these children. That poor boy will be called "balloon boy" for the rest of his life.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  206. Martin Duperval

    Absolutely. At the same time, they need to apologize to the public, specially those with high blood pressure and other related health issues.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  207. Emil

    I think those parents' place is in jail. However, considering that they are parents of young children, they shall get 6 years conditionally. They shall also be fined, and reprimanded by their community.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  208. Stacy

    If it's proven that the parents staged this, yes they should face criminal prosecution. What are they teaching their children??

    October 19, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  209. Chaudhry Manzoor

    I got a perfect spot picked for both the parents, "A Mental Institution".

    October 19, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  210. sue

    They are a very 'sick' couple. They should be placed in a psychiactric hospital prison and the children should be placed with 'sane' people.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  211. jodi

    Being unable to have children, I cannot understand what would posess these parents to lie? Guess we know the hard times we are experiencing in the country and what people will go through to earn a living. Maybe they are hoping for a pardon on that basis?

    October 19, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  212. L Hall In dallas

    Yes,the whole thing was insane.If the parents are willing to do something like this,those children are not safe in their care.It so upsetting because there are amber alerts going on all over the country for missing children whom may never return home.Someone should lock the children up(THE PARENTS)

    October 19, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  213. Pete-fl

    No Jack but they should apologize to everyone on national t.v. especially their kids for making them lie. Let them do community work and enough with them we got more important things to take care of like two wars, our economy and health care. Shame on them.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  214. George Kraft

    If you want to know where all your tax payer dollars go, look at what this couple with this balloon stunt cost just trying to inflate their own ego's.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  215. beevee

    They should be reprimanded for causing such an alarm and wasting public officals' time resources and warned not to repeat this sype of publicity stunts for selfish gains. Other than that forget about them.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  216. Rich from Syracuse, NY

    What galls me is that even after Falcon said they had done it for the show, the parents continued to play along and totally ignored Blitzer when he asked what the boy had said. Clearly, Falcon had blown their deal and I'm suprised even Blitzer did not press the issue.

    Should they face criminal charges? Yes, they should. I'm totally against using any child as a pawn or as a means to an end. It totally stinks and is as sleazy as they come. The only time I want to see these lowlifes back on TV is when the live news report comes in that the cours has pronounced them guilty and they are led off to the clink.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  217. Rebecca Bowman

    The balloon boy's parents should face prosecution. Besides the tax dollars that were wasted looking for this kid that wasn't in the balloon in the first place, this family also caused heartache in the thousands of Americans who watched the balloon land empty. My heart went out to the family that had just lost their son. It seemed like a very sad ending. But to find out it was all a publicity stunt is outrageous. These parents crave attention and I think that legally, we should give them the attention they deserve, even if they don't want to be in the limelight anymore.
    Rebecca Bowman
    Oak Ridge, TN

    October 19, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  218. Curtis

    The man is just sick to be so self centered that he hides behind his family and uses his six year old son to get media attention. What kind of example is he leading for his children that it is okay to lie, and cheat the system. Today's society is too concerned with getting a reality show, even if it means sacrificing someone they love.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  219. Bill

    Falcon's Pop is a weasel. He owes the money to the taxpayers, he owes the time for the crime, he owes his child an apology for making him a part of this act.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  220. Sheri from NYC

    This is what reality TV has done to this country....if ,we the public ,weren't so interested in this garbage TV maybe we wouldn't have to be subjected to this in the first place....they should be made to pay for this little "adventure" they designed....maybe they should go back in the balloon and they should bring Jon and Kate with them....

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  221. Shyam Roy

    Any punishment given to them must fit their crime. What they did is bizarre and stupid but nothing significant. They should be given some kind of punishment like community service so that they don't do it again. They are not rich and have three children. They don't have much income either. So, the justice system must show compassion.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  222. Jimi NY

    What's sad about this is even if they are criminally prosecuted they will prosper from this incident. It was moronic, irresponsible, detrimental to the children, but they got what they wanted . . . instant celebrities! I think what should happen is they get the maximum fine of $500,000 plus pay the rescue expenses. Putting them in jail won't do any good. It will take them away from the children and the children did nothing wrong. The children deserve to have better parents, but being in the custody of the state would only harm them more. There is a good chance they will make money off of this stunt, so any monies made will go to the fine and restitution.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  223. Moderate Sean

    Yes, appropriate charges should be filed, as well as the recovery of any and/or all financial expense incurred by authorities, but please do not give these two "wacks jobs/attention seekers" anymore media coverage. They have had enough....and we, the news viewers, have had enough of them!

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  224. Awe

    No charges. Reconstruct the Balloon, put both parents in it and let it take off into the air.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  225. Karyn Ulriksen

    While I understand that its hard to make ends meet for middle class families these days and admire the creativity, it certainly seem that that sort of creativity and hutzpah could have been used for something more socially responsible and productive. As is, it just smacks of narcissism and greed.

    They should be punished under any statutes available for the same reason as any other criminal that defrauds the public or abuses public trust.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  226. M. Whittaker

    The parents should have to pay the expense that the false report caused – the FAA, the National Guard, the local Police, all of it. this should not go unpunished, but jail is not the answer

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  227. Ron

    These parents acted very inappropriately. In addition to criminal prosecution I think an evaluation needs to be done concerning their parental fitness.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  228. Griff in Vermont

    The question isn't whether or not they should face charges: It's how many they should face. There's really no gray area here. They staged a stunt for personal gain, lied to us about it, and it cost authorities and the National Guard and money. That's all there is to it.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  229. Dale and LeeAnn Morretino

    My wife smelled a rat the moment she heard the story. I was not sure until I saw the video of the ballon leave their yard. It was way too flimsy to support even 30-40 pounds of added weight. It would have went up about 2 feet if the kid was in it.

    The parents should pay all expenses incurred. Jail time is not necessary. Hit them in the wallet.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  230. Peter

    Jack, this is obvious. First, let the kids go live with more stable relatives before those parents create a pair of monsters society must deal with. Then put the parents in a balloon and launch it on a one way trip.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  231. Ajay Sharma

    Yes, they should face justice. The law enforcement is not optional but it is strictly applicable whosoever breaks it. These conartists must get lesson to not use public trust and fundamental rights to their undue advantage.
    Portland, OR

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  232. Daniel London

    They most certainly should face charges! I'm a college student at UGA and we spent part of class talking about this nonsense!

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  233. Sekhar M

    Yes. It is child abuse. I had seen the little boy sick and drowsy and still the Heenes wanted attention.

    Exton, PA

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  234. Paul , Towaco NJ

    But of course they should, but I dont think 6 years in jail is a good option. They shoud be ordered go to counciling and parent training. Plus do community service for underprivleged children to appreciate what they have and stop using their kids as props.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  235. Crystal near Memphis, TN

    They should be prosecuted and made to pay for all services rendered on their behalf, with payment taken from their wages if pay back is not made in a timely manner. They should also do community service, and it wouldn't hurt to have the Department of Family Services/Child Welfare come out and investigate as well.

    Unfortunately, they'll probably get a reality series out of this. It looked like we're finally getting rid of Jon and Kate Gosselin and now these morons come along. *SIGH* I never saw Jon and Kate's show and I won't watch this one, either.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  236. Liz

    Definitly charged for criminal prosecution. Their stunt kept a lot of people busy on their wild "balloon" chase when that time could have been better spent on serious life and death cases!

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  237. Greg

    Jack, it’s simple. Put the parents in a box attached to a balloon held together by duct tape and let them go. Allow karma to do the rest…
    Best regards,
    Norristown, PA

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  238. Bryan

    I guess that would depend upon whether or not the police decide to press charges and if the prosecutor decides that the evidence to support those charges is sufficient to build a case.

    I'm not a lawyer, so if you really want to know the answer to your question, I'd suggest contacting the authorities involved with the incident.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  239. luci - Peoria, Il.

    Yes, after it is proved that they did wrong. I've never heard of such a stupid thing, rediculious.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  240. Matt

    Not yes, but Hell YES!!! If I was a traveler at Denver Int'l whose flight got delayed or postponed due to this hairbrained stunt, I'd have a civil suit against these two in a heartbeat! And I'm not one to sue people! But these two need to be grounded for a while. A little time in a minimum security facility will give them ample time to think about their actions and the fallout. What about the boys? They may be better off without these two as role models for a couple of years.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  241. Robert

    Absolutely! This is disgusting...for a parent to make up a story that one of their children could be in a deadly situation, all for a vague shot at a reality TV show is really a new low. Given this man's behavior I fear for the safety of those children. This man (and his wife too) should be in jail.

    Robert, New York NY

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  242. Tom Mytoocents Fort Lauderdale Florida

    As long as 22 million criminal aliens run freely in our midst the ballon boy should not be singled out as a criminal.
    If balloon boy was illeagle they would have never given him a thought.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  243. Bonnie Levine

    I think it was a horrible stunt, especially because it put innocent children in a position of having to lie to authority figures in front of the whole world. Not only that, but I cannot believe that would force their 6 year old to stay in the attic for several hours while they themselves lied to the police and the entire world on live television! Can the Heenes honestly believe that anyone would want to watch a television show starring them after they duped everyone and put them through such an emotional wringer by watching and worrying about that innocent child only to find out it was some sort of sick stunt? They absolutely should be prosecuted and made to reimburse any costs expended by the police, fire rescue, national guard, etc.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  244. Jeff Redondo Beach CA

    No. This incident shows how hungry we are for any story the media decides is "cool". If this had happened 25 years ago, it would not have made the news, and might have only be a small item in the local newspaper. Putting them on trial is exactly what they want, MORE PUBLICITY.... End it now and don't spend any more time on it. Just laugh at ourselves on how foolish we are and let it go.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  245. ehdvm8

    These people should be criminally tried and if convicted made to repay all funds used in the search and rescue.

    It is disgusting that people such as the Heene's, Octomom, Natalie Suleman and the Gosselins have children and exploit them as a means of reality fame and a quick meal ticket. It is even more unfortunate that the media develops and promotes it and most repulsive that there is an audience that consumes it.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm |

    We must consider each and every aspect of this case and justice should prevail in any case...

    October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  247. Rob A

    Throw the book at them! This whole reality TV and the mentality that goes with it our out of hand. Some people will do ANYTHING to get themselves on TV. Where will it end?

    These people should be made an example of. And they should spend some time in jail. Along with paying back all the agencies that spent any time and resources on this hoax.

    I also want to say that the media is an accessory to this crime. I think you guys love anything that gets people to watch, no matter how ridiculous. Somebody HAD to know that this was a hoax.

    I saw the whole thing live, but never were we shown how big this thing actually was, we only saw it floating through the sky with no reference to base it on. When I actually saw it land and people standing around it, I started laughing. This thing was just a larger version of the mylar balloons you buy at the drugstore. I doubt that thing would have lifted a turtle to 8,000 feet. Give me a break.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  248. Zed

    Prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. Get a conservative prosecutor on the case. Make sure there's a big six figure fine. Give the brat kids to the State for 1 year. Then, you will never ever hear from these idiot parents again. Last point, the police chief and Guard personnel looked like total morons. Didn't anybody look into the weight carrying capability of this balloon? Didn't any of the people involved remember anything from ninth grade science class?

    October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  249. Ken Key

    Jack as a tax payer I want to see these people pay for all of the emergency services that they consumed with this hoax. My real problem here is what if somebody was in true and desperate need of emergency services and they experienced a delay in response time just because of the childish “attention needs” of the Heene family?
    Ken Key – Buffalo, NY

    October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  250. Rob


    ITS not funny the thing they did – No moral principles what's so ever.

    They should go to JAIL and the remove their children, No GOOD PARENTS.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  251. Robert

    Absolutely. Stupidity of trying to be a real life Reality Show is no excuse for the conduct of the parents. I hope this is not the beginning of how folks get to become reality show material!?!?! Fake a hijack, get caught and then tell your story in some Reaity Show.

    Help us all!!!

    October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  252. Larry of Boston

    Put them on a reality TV show - a deserted island full of giant reptiles and let them try to survive for about 6 months. The show could be called "Dinner is Served" (and I am talking about dinner for the large reptiles when I say this)

    Alternatively, have them pay for the rescue effort; and give them 200 hours of community service. Of course the cost of the rescue effort will bankrupt them and that will cause them to lose their kids ...but it seems like their kids are just props for them now

    October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  253. Jeanne

    Yes, they need to be held accountable for the costs incurred during the rescue attempt and for any costs incurred by Denver International Airport for diverting traffic. As I watched a portion of the live feed last Friday I was sick with concern for the young boy supposedly inside the balloon. My heart went out to the family as I imagined the horror they felt watching their son being carried away. To find out it was a hoax was like being hit in the solar plexus with a baseball bat.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  254. Patty

    Actions must have consequences, so the Heene's should be prosecuted for their actions. However, I don't believe incarceration would be appropriate; stiff fines and a bill for the unnecessary expenses incurred by the public agencies responding to the event should be sufficient. Let's see if Mr. Heene can get a real job like the rest of us to pay off his debts!

    October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  255. Bill in PA

    Prosecute Mr. Heene? Yes, he should pay the costs spent by taxpayers looking for a child that he knew was safe and sound.
    The real co-conspirators in this case are the news-o-tainment editors. There was no real story. Mr. Heene and now his lawyer are enjoying, free, millions of dollars worth of publicity just as they planned. They had their scripts ready before launch. CNN, NBC and ABC etc. were all manipulated. Any real news editor would have fact checked the story but that costs time and money. The networks are in the business of making money, lots of money. Not in reporting real news like the fact that Pakistan is a nation with nuclear weapons built and in stock. Who controls the atomic weapons in Pakistan now?

    October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  256. Tom, PA

    Yes, I hope they get the maximum punishment because the parents need a dose of reality check.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  257. mark warren

    Both parents should face prosecution.And pay the bill.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  258. Scott

    Absolutely. If Richard is any kind of man he'll take the rap himself so his wife doesn't have to go to prison for this juvenile prank. Maybe he can do a reality show from jail but he should leave his kids out of it. If anyone was hurt because emergency services were tied up when they needed them then they should also sue him.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  259. Amanda

    Yes, they should. I was sitting on my desk at work eyes glued on the screen. The market was closing and all everyone could do was watch and pray for this little boy. When the balloon landed and the media reported it was empty, I had tears in my eyes. I can't believe this is what the Heenes want their kids to learn about what's important in life. They shouldn't lose their kids but they should be held financially responsible for this idiotic attempt to become celebrities and sentenced to months of community services. Also, they should teach their kids another good lesson and issue a public apology to all of these who believed in this hoax and worked hard to make sure this little boy was safe.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  260. Bob Kole


    Make them pay what ever was expensed on the search and leave it at that. They are looking for attention, lets not give it to them by draging them into court.

    If anyone should be on trial it should be the producers of the "reality" programs.

    New York, New York

    October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm |

    Absolutely! Here we are trying to teach our children not to do 911 hangups because crying wolf could endanger the life of someone who really needs the attention and these jokers take it many steps further.
    What in the world were you Heenes thinking? Did you actually think this was funny? What if one of those helicopters crashed?
    You people are idiots and thats your good points.
    The Heenes should pay full restitution to the tax payers that was used to put all the would be rescuers at risk and including the helicopter fuel and maintenance.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  262. Gill Bates

    Yes, but only a fine or probation.
    The less sensational the proceedings the better.

    P.S. – anyone who looked at the balloon when it was in flihgt had to know there was not a child on board. The light-weight was obvious and the shape would have been distorted with the weight of a child.

    What an over-reaction by everyone.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  263. Jon

    They shouldn't go to jail, no. But they should have to pay for all of the search and rescue costs. I'm guessing that would be a pretty stiff bill, and seems like punishment enough. I have to think that after all of this, they've learned their lesson.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  264. Harold

    Absolutely! With all the resources that were diverted to track this balloon down and to search for this child, sure! Sending out rescue helicopters are very expensive and dangerous. People risked their lives so these two idiots could get publicity for a tv show? Throw the book at them.

    October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  265. Richard

    Yes. What if one of the responders lost their life or were inuried during the process of this rescue. Did they think of that? Obviously not.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  266. Stephanie-Jersey City, NJ

    The defense should be "the economy made me do it". Desperate times call for desperate measures. You must be pretty desperate to sacrifice your child.

    Stephanie-Jersey City, NJ

    October 19, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  267. Mike S., New Orleans

    They should be sentenced to five years of living with the Octomom, and weekly meetings with Jon and Kate Gosselin, and the only people they're allowed to talk to on the phone are the Kardashian sisters. They wanted to be reality stars: give them a dose of reality.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  268. Dial from SoCal

    Richard Heene is ego driven and will use his wife and kids to promote himself. I don't think jail time serves any purpose but a good fine and lots of weekends picking up trash along the Colorado freeways might help him re-evaluate his life. The biggest punishment would be to keep all the media cameras away from him!

    October 19, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  269. Dana Bridges

    YES! They should face prosecution. They maniuplated the entire country and the world for that matter. I sat at my computer watching this like everyone else and I was in tears the whole time. I prayed over and over for this child to land safely and not be hurt. They deserve to be punished for what they put all of those responders through as well as what they put this country through! I also think CPS needs to take a serious look at this family!

    October 19, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  270. Pattie

    Of course they should face criminal prosecution! Why shouldn't they if they are found guilty of the charges – conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and attempting to influence a public servant. There could also be a misdemeanor charge for filing a false police report.

    I realize it's sad for the kids if their parents serve time, but it's even more sad that the parents used their children to get publicity for themselves. Who knows what they would have done next...

    Baltimore, MD

    October 19, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  271. greg o'halloran

    While the actions of the Heenes were morally reprehensible and even sickening, criminal prosecution is not the proper avenue to deal with their conduct. The rest of society does not need protection from these warped individuals, and the state's interest should be limited to child protection services. Afterall, this is really a matter of celebrity obsessed adults attempting to use their children for their own desire to be famous and relevant. If we are prosecuting that conduct, we are going to need more prisons and prosecuters.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  272. John Petrey

    Absolutely they should be prosecuted-their fraud endangered others by diverting emergency services during this fictitious flight.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  273. Terry Shea

    Of course they should. Money was spent and perhaps even first responders' lives put on the line, not to mention diverting emergency personnel from real emergencies. Someone has to tell Mr. Heene to grow up and get a real job.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  274. Thiago Lacerda

    To be honest, my biggest concern is for the kids. I hope not only that Richard and Mayumi face the appropriate charges, but that the boys end up in a better parenting environment. Authorities should deeply probe the possibility of abuse.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  275. Colleen Gavin

    Yes, for a simple reason, never use your child to get on reality tv. If you suck that much at acting that you need to use your own child for attention, then maybe you shouldn't be on TV. That was a twisted joke. I hope the parents get the full penalty. That boy deserves better parents.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  276. Bob

    Yes. One or more of the helicopters could have crashed with the lost of lives. Happen in Phoenix once. Two helicopters covering a news story crashed into each other with lost of lives.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  277. Chryssa

    Put the parents to work for the city and state until they've paid what they owe, and make a reality show out of it. I'm not a reality TV fan myself, but I would quite enjoy seeing Mr. Heene picking up trash along a freeway or shoveling dung at a state fair. Of course they wouldn't get to keep any of the extra money – it would go into a college account for the boys.

    Boise, ID

    October 19, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  278. Mark Wardell

    Ok Here is what they should do .... Judge and CNN and Networks should make sure they DO get reality show....See what family looks like as it goes through judgment and post-judgment situation,,,

    Mark Wardell

    Nassau Bay Texas.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  279. Peter

    (Littleton, CO)

    They should be punished, but only enough to make it clear that the law relegates this kind of activity beyond the domain of rational beings. While the letter of the law–a 3rd class misdomeanor–does not seem serious enough to cut it, an excessive punishment would produce more damage than is warranted in terms of federal time and money. As their acts cost government time and money but produced no direct victims, the crime is tantamount to vandalizing government property, and I feel it should be handled similarly.

    Additionally, punishing the parents in a very serious way does not seem fair to the children, who are, in the end, victims of any punishment.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  280. Gib Sage

    Put the parents in jail – put the kids with relatives until they're 18 – and make THAT into a reality show...

    October 19, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  281. Linda K. of Lexington, KY

    Yes, they should. They used valuable resources, costing taxpayer money and the time of the first responders.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  282. Tony Aloi

    I don't know if I'd go nuts punishing this group, but someone should sound the nerd alert horn 'cause these two gotta be two of the biggest nerds I've seen in a while, doing all this. In the future, heavy punishment should be dealt out, as ridiculous scenarios like these leave the gap wide open for real threats, such as terrorist attacts by diverting attention.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  283. Barbara Raesis

    Port Arthur Texas – Yes, they should face criminal prosecution and be ordered to pay back all the money it took to go a wild balloon chase for their child. It shows just what people will do in the name of money. Just in case I missed it, what does Mr. Hennee and his wife do for income?

    October 19, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  284. Lisa

    Yes, absolutely! If this were in the "olden days", they would be put out in the middle of the town square in a stockade to be publicly humiliated for their rediculous actions.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  285. Veronica McNamara

    Yes. Not only for the costs incurred by public officials but also for the ruination of the owner's field where the balloon landed. What a fine example of parenting he is to three young boys. The episode was planned with 'malice aforethought' if you will and deserves punishment.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  286. Maria Antonette

    i think that the whole family is seekign attention. Many people would take attention even if it's bad attention. And that just shows a true lack of confience in themselves. There really is something wrong, so wrong that it pushed them to this point to get their movie, or tv, deal. We can only hope that they realize that there's no room for all this drama.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  287. Michel

    Put them in the baloon and send them adrift to somewhere where not reporters can follow.
    But, yes, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extend of the law if only to discourage others, such as politicians, to do the same bit of haming it up.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  288. Beth

    First and foremost the parents should be required to take parenting classes and provide the children with counselling.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  289. Matthew Chiboroski

    Yes, I think they should face criminal charges, they used up valuable public resources and emergency responders. What if there was a real emergency while they were playing with their balloon? Furthermore, it's more than likely public officials will eventually take their children from them for emotional abuse. I bet they didn't think of that.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  290. Maury Reed

    First, let's have a complete investigation with all the facts laid out to determine the extent of any legal action. This should include any negative affect all this has had on the three boys. The parents should be held responsible for any of their culpabillity. So far it doesn't sound to wholesome.

    Appleton, Wisconsin

    October 19, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  291. Barb in Toronto

    Punish them severely, take away their children, and never give them the availability of the sacred 911 service again.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  292. Jim

    I hope they get the book thrown at them. They used their children and tax payers money to hopefully get a reality show. Doesn't say much for REALITY TV

    October 19, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  293. Mary Garin

    Absolutely. Maybe balloon boy's parents inhaled too much of that helium and went loopy or maybe the aliens which they say they are descendants of put them up to the whole thing?! Could the aliens really be more crazy than the Heene's? We may never know....but put my comment on your show Wolf! ~Ithaca, New York

    October 19, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  294. Gary

    If true, this is the height of selfishness and put first responders in harm's way. Throw the state and federal books at them.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  295. Corey

    While being a moron is not illegal, it doesn't excuse the fact that this family wasted taxpayer time and money for their own self aggrandizing scheme. In an economic climate such as this, a childish stunt like this merits a little more than just a slap on the wrist.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  296. DoesItMatter

    What they did was wrong and they should face fines, a psychiatrist and community service. What they don't need is jail time. How is it going to profit anyone to throw them in jail? It is more burden on the taxpayers and those kids need their parents around. People are too judgemental.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  297. Carol

    Yes,,, both of them need to spend time in prison.. what they did to be noticed is crazy.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  298. Chris

    Absolutely they should be charged. Not only did they waste taxpayer money but they played on the emotions of the public simply to try to be the next Jon & Kate. Unfortunately I think this is just the beginning as our society get more and more selfish and becomes the ultimate ME generation.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  299. Leeanne

    Of course they should be charged. They are criminals. They lied to law enforcement officers. That is a crime. In addition to the charges currently discussed, when will the DHR get involved and begin an investigation into the welfare of the children? Any parent who would not only encourage and condone, but produce of all things seen in that horrific video the children made, and then post it on youtube, needs to be investigated. The children may need to stay with relatives for a while until the parents can obtain counseling.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  300. Michael

    This hoax was at best a serious breach of ethics and morality, and at worst a dangerous stunt that could have injured innocent bystanders. How many car accidents were caused by the clogged up streets as rescue vehicles sped along? How much risk were the rescuers taking on chasing after the balloon? The Henne's do not seem to appreciate the danger their stunt put everyone else through. They got to sit home laughing while many of us were horrified for two hours waiting for news of their son's survival. Such gross disregard for public safety and emotional well being should not be rewarded with TV shows, 15 minutes of fame, or even a free-pass from law enforcement. They should be punished to the fullest extent of the law and should be made to issue a public apology to us AND to their children. Asking children to lie so you can get on TV is disgusting behavior.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:01 pm |