The parents of the so-called “balloon boy” hoax that captivated the nation’s attention in 2009 after they claimed their 6-year-old son floated away in a helium balloon have spoken out 10 years on. They have denied that it is a hoax, as local officials have alleged.
The boy, Falcon, was later found at his home in Fort Collins, Colorado. Officials said parents Richard and Mayumi Heene were responsible for orchestrating a hoax to get reality TV shows that they were trying to pitch, according to reports at the time.
Richard Heene eventually admitted guilt and served a 30-day prison term while his mother served a 20-day jail term after pleading guilty to providing a false police report.
But the two have maintained that he, Mayumi, and their three sons were in the backyard working on the UFO-shaped balloon. When the balloon got loose, they thought Falcon was inside.
“What would be nice is if the media, could actually go, ‘Yeah, Richard’s got a point,'” Heene told ABC News on Tuesday. “But it’s so biased—the media continues on with the same narrative.”
Heene said he feels he needs to clear his name.
“I’ve lost a lot of opportunities. I’ve had people contact me about things I invented and the deal went south—because they find out who I am,” he added. “The thing that gets me is the media never tells my side of the story.”
Mayumi Heene claimed she confessed to the charges out of fear.
“I thought, ‘I’m going to be deported,'” she told the news outlet. “Then I won’t see my husband or, you know, kids—I won’t be able to see them.”
After the boy was found in the family’s attic, Falcon told CNN at the time: “We did it for the TV show,” according to the Daily Mail’s recap.
The Mail also reported that it was revealed that Mayumi kept a diary that detailed her husband pulling off the stunt. She wrote about a production company rejecting their pitch for a show.
Falcon said the nickname “balloon boy” has stuck with him and he is currently in a heavy metal band with his brothers, Bradford and Ryo.
He told ABC: “I haven’t thought about anything” in terms of using the name as a strategy.
The teenager said he has no recollection of the day.