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October 19th, 2009
08:18 AM ET

Balloon Story Bursts: What Should Happen to the Parents?

On Sunday, Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden announced the “balloon boy” incident was a hoax. (Read the whole story here.) Charges haven’t been filed yet. But Alderden said he expects authorities to recommend felony charges including conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and attempting to influence a public servant.

Our question – Regardless of whether charges are filed or what those charges are, what do you think should happen to the parents in this case?

Post your comments below.

Filed under: Heidi Collins
soundoff (114 Responses)
  1. Mobius

    The parents should be charged as if CNN and the rest of the mass media didn't blow this story up into the insanity that it has become.

    Were it not for all of the ridiculous "live" coverage of this non-event, nobody would be bothered with it in the slightest.

    Another instance of the media clearly adding to the hype and practicing irresponsible journalism.

    October 19, 2009 at 8:30 am |
  2. Jonathan Embree

    It's no ones fault other then the viewers. The media today is so obsessed with stories such as this. It isn't hard to get nation wide coverage theses days.
    People now know bad publicity is good publicity! These stunts will continue untill the media actually starts covering real news

    October 19, 2009 at 8:32 am |
  3. Tyler

    They should be put in a big mylar balloon and floated over Colorado for a few hours then have to crash down and see how they feel after that.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:10 am |
  4. LSevan

    Maybe we should stop giving them all this media attention, which is obviously what they craved in the first place and with which they are now being rewarded. Pull the plug on their way over-extended 15 minutes...please!

    October 19, 2009 at 9:11 am |
  5. Sydney M

    I don't want to see the parents go to jail for the boys' sakes, but they should pay taxpayers back EVERY PENNY of the 2 million dollars that their little ruse cost. These parents are sick and demented.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:11 am |
  6. Phil

    no victim no crime

    October 19, 2009 at 9:11 am |
  7. Brian

    Give them a T.V. show. It's gonna happen anyway.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:11 am |
  8. Lotfi

    charge him three times for every single penny that has been spent on that operation.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:12 am |
  9. mark

    10 yrs. probation and pay for all the local and federal resources.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:12 am |
  10. kathy r

    From the beginning, they wanted "the press". They continue to get it. This couple used their children for their glory-maybe some time without their kids would serve them well. Send them to a foster home while the parents take parenting classes.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:12 am |
  11. Lisa

    A court case would be a waste. It's partially the media's fault – didn't it occur to any reporter to see if the balloon was even capable of flying a child in it? The family won't be benefitting from the event now. And it's known all over the world, including in their town and kids' schools, that they are liars. I feel for the kids but they need to be w/their parents. The parents shouldn't go to jail.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:12 am |
  12. Kevin

    It's very simple, the parents should be held financially responsible for all emergency service expenses. Also, If they told their son to file a false report, they charged be charged with that as well.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:12 am |
  13. Hedie

    If this is true, the parents should have to pay back all of the expenses involved with the fiasco in full. Everybody wants to be a movie star these days and have their 15 minutes of fame. These people apparently already had it and continue to want more at the expense of their children.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:12 am |
  14. Carl

    As much as the ballon story is interesting, I would really like to hear what's going on in Iraq. Seems to be forgotten topic.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:12 am |
  15. Gayle

    It was reported that these parents are amateur storm chasers and take their three children with them to chase tornadoes and hurricanes. If that is not child endangerment, what is? However, would the children be better off in foster homes, possibly three different homes? No.
    They should ALL receive a heavy dose of counseling, permanently.
    Fining them and making them responsible for the cost of the"chase" is also probably useless. Strongly promote mandatory education on parenting in the schools!

    October 19, 2009 at 9:13 am |
  16. Jennifer Boudette

    These parents should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Regardless of the media hype, there were actual people involved in this, not actors. People who were willing to put their lives on the line to save the life of a child,

    October 19, 2009 at 9:13 am |
  17. Daryl

    I think that authorities need to prosecute the parents to the fullest extent. They need to send a message of their own that deceitful acts done by individuals for their own selfish gain will not be tolerated. In today's media driven world, it has become to easy to get your name in the spot light. This message needs to be sent.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:13 am |
  18. Houston Mom

    The parents should face a couple of things besides misdemeanor charges. They should get a bill for the entire amount of the rescue, plus interest compounded until the entire amount is paid off. They should temporarily lose custody of their children until they complete competent parenting classes and when they do complete those classes they should have to sign an agreement stating they will never appear in any video production for compensation or face the immediate and permanent loss of their children.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:13 am |
  19. Dale

    In my opinion, they should be given a fair and impartial trial and if found guilty, required to pay restitution to the parties involved. Supervised probation for both parent should be required, however, they should not have thier children removed from their custody. Psychological help should be mandatory for the entire family.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:13 am |
  20. Not Impressed

    Easy. They need to go to jail. They lied to the media and police, and they made fictitious 911 calls.

    And hey, maybe we can make the family happy and film a reality show about their experiences in prison.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:14 am |
  21. BrianJ

    I don't know who should receive a greater sentence, the Media who promote sensationalism, or the people who find themselves committing fraud to provide fodder for the "news." I find it sad that your organization is still wasting time on this story. This is exactly what these leeches want is the continued coverage. Let it go.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:14 am |
  22. Stacey

    They need counseling, therapy & should be sentenced to do community service at a shelter or soothing of that nature so they can see what is really happening in the country while they are playing games.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:16 am |
  23. publicpretender

    nothing, what would be the charges, that there was no kid in the balloon. The child was not in the balloon, haha. Also important to note: that the joke was on them: make that into reality TV I though the entire ending was very funny, they approached the balloon, as if afraid of it: well it's good to know that some people don't have a sense of humor. There are politians who have commited worser crimes that get a slap on the wrist. There are social workers who kidnap children from their parents, by which this media never gets to the bottom of that story. Instead they focus on entertainment today and entertainment tonight. But it's really not very funny anymore. That is why people are taking out to the streets like they did this weekend, to ask the media if you could hear them now. They want real news by real people. You can moderate my comment. It's not really mine, its yours after moderation.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:16 am |
  24. Alex Chow

    I respect all sides of a story but the bottom line is that both the parents and the media are equally at fault on both sides. It's terrible enough that our nation's economy is still in the repair shop but for a couple to play a hoax, and waste public attention and money on a hoax like this? That's just IMMATURE, and they need to realize that calling police and rescue can cost the public major tax money. It isn't a serious deal but I think they definitely should be fined for public violation to cover the rescue and police charge. It's only fair for wasting the public's tax dollars.
    I will definitely agree as well that the media is also at serious fault for over exaggerations and just reporting random news to get public attention. If they can just focus on the serious news like how the people can help President Obama, and the situation in impoverished and war torn countries, we can actually cover real and productive news.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:19 am |
  25. Anthony

    Well, the media isn't going to stop covering it, and Brian's right, they'll probably just get a deal out of it anyway, so here's my proposal...I say, put them in a huge balloon, and fly them over downtown Denver, and if they survive, they win a TV Show. I think that would be at least enough to give em a real nice scare.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:19 am |
  26. Christy Johnson

    CPS needs to get involved. Both parents require a psychological evaluation, psychiatric evaluation, and drug testing. There is a victim in this case and his name is Falcon. In addition, to his brothers (Sparrow & Eagle...just kidding).

    October 19, 2009 at 9:20 am |
  27. Chad

    This story is awesome for the fact that some idiot parents tried to get coverage and now look even more stupid since their kid called them out on national TV! Does anything else really have to be done? I'm entertained!

    October 19, 2009 at 9:20 am |
  28. Heather

    I disagree with people who say that the media shouldn't cover these stories. How did anyone know "at the time" that this was a hoax? I was in the middle of lunch when this story began to air. I couldn't focus on anything else but the safety of that child. How were they going to rescue him? What if the balloon burst? The fear, panic, desparation, etc. the child and the parents were experiencing at that moment was almost unbearable for me. Now to learn it was all a publicity stunt!! They should have all 3 of their sons removed from their home by the courts in order to give them a real taste of what it feels like to actually lose a child. So many parents experience this for real in everyday life. How dare the Heene's make light of such a serious issue. I hope they are charged and put into prison.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:20 am |
  29. Ramiro

    I think the parents should be charged with criminal activity.

    They should be held responsible for the resources they took advantage of, including law enforcement and emergency services. People should not feel that by pulling a stunt like this, they'd be granted a free ticket to reality TV stardom; therefore, I think it's for the best that their dishonest actions are being disclosed so publicly. There's a lesson to be learned here and I don' t expect this to be over any time soon.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:20 am |
  30. Katharine Plat

    I THINK THEY SHOULD THROW THE BOOK AT THESE PATHETIC EXCUSES FOR PARENTS!!! The media is no more responsible for this than we are for falling for it. I am sure I can say with confidence that multitudes were sickened and horrified at the very thought that this poor little boy could have suffered such a fate. I know I watched in horror and worried myself sick thinking this little boy may have fallen out of the balloon.... all the while these people were at home laughing at all of us, knowing full well their child was indeed alive and well. And, thank God he was!!!

    To use your children for some sick attempt at fame is in the very least despicable!! I watched as the little boy made the comment that this was done for a show and the father's facial reaction told the whole story...he was trying to tell his son to cool it. Then to coach your kid to say you feel sick when asked specific questions is deplorable. I feel sick to my stomach knowing those poor children live with people like them.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:21 am |
  31. Melanie

    This story exemplifies a marriage of media hype with irresponsible hollywood-clouded parenting. My angst is towards the parents who purposely taught their children to lie for a worldwide media scam in hopes of monetary gain. In addition, the parents used horrible judgement to make a 911 call and use precious police resources, compliments to the American Taxpayer, to seek a lie.

    I believe the parents should be fined and, more importantly, be billed from the Police, search parties, etc. for wasting their valuable time and taxpayers money that could have been better used. In addition, the parents should go to mandatory parent counseling as it is obvious that they lack good judgement.

    Swift correction is needed.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:22 am |
  32. P. Ryan

    The parents should be held accountable for the loss of valuable resources of time, money and equipment that were put into play. They should be charged and child services should consider whether or not the two are fit to raise these children.
    Consider the possible repercussions, had there been an actual real life crisis happening at the same time.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:23 am |
  33. ken

    The parents should have to pay for all the expenses related to this hoax. In addition the judge should make them donate to charity all profits from any book or reality show they make because of this farce. I heard today that this helium baloon what not capable of lifting off with a 37 lb child aboard. If this is the case why didn't these experts say that from the beginning to prevent this hoaxs from ever getting of the ground.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:24 am |
  34. charlie

    richard henne is a self proclaimed professional at his storm chasing.that could not be farther from the truth. he and his family put countless lives in jepordy and interfeared with dia's flights not only by rerouting them but by grounding some.who knows how many people's plans were affected because this clown wants attention for a reality show. how about putting him on inside american jail. if you need a real rescue out here hiking or climbing it's at least 4500.00 dollars does anyone realize how many agency's these fool's tied up incase of a real emergency .yes he needs to pay. to the henne's sorry but we are all tired of you.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:29 am |
  35. Chuck

    This family is caught up in the Media sensationalism. They should be prosecuted to the full limit of the law. Today's world marches to the beat of the Media and Wall Street. Fox, CNN, CNBC & MSNBC all fight over ratings and will go to all ends to make those rating's.
    Remember, believe nothing you hear and only 10% of what you see on cable news.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:31 am |
  36. Bernadette Loesch

    The entire family needs major counseling.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:32 am |
  37. Michele,AZ

    They should be held financially responsible, and then they should be charged with false reporting.

    For the sake of the kids, this case should be reported by their local media only. If major media outlets need closure,...just report the outcome.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:33 am |
  38. Edukateu

    In addition to CPS involvement, the parents should also be cited for misusing the 911 system. Latreasa Goodman was cited for misusing the 911 system after calling 911 after she paid for a 10-piece Chicken McNuggets meal at a McDonalds but the fast food restaurant ran out of them and refused to give her a refund.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:35 am |
  39. James Landry

    Hello Miss.Collins,
    I just thank young Falcon for saving the world from another reality show. Can you imagine that family on TV?
    The parents should have to pay back the money for the 'rescue' effort and atleast be charged with making a false claim.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:37 am |
  40. Jack

    It's absurd the parents used their son as a ploy to recieve recognition for future plans to be seen on a reality television show. I'm not one to judge, yet they should be charged with fines from the police department, the city, etc..

    October 19, 2009 at 9:39 am |
  41. K Wms

    Most people don't like to be fooled. Most people don't like to own up to their own inadequacies such as gullibility. It is part of the bigger tendency to not accept responsibility but to divert blame instead. Face it, folks, some were duped but are now are mad about it and directing their reaction outward. Get over it – like after an April Fool's prank.

    On the other hand, participants in hoaxes should ask themselves beforehand, "What are the consequences (especially within the legal system) if I try this and it is adjudged to have been bogus?" If the perpetrators go ahead with their scheme anyway – but get caught – then appropriate prosecution should be pursued.

    (Separate sermons could be written about the sorrowful import placed on "reality TV" and the lack of suspicion regarding what one hears and reads.)

    October 19, 2009 at 9:40 am |
  42. LSevan

    "at the time" it was painfully obvious that balloon could not support the weight of a 6 year-old! i couldn't believe people were glued to the tv watching that and not realizing this fact.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:43 am |
  43. John

    All these people wanted was attention and look what they got. CNN has a big yellow sign saying breaking news. We should forget about them and move on. It was never a good story anyways, stuff happens to people and it doesn't have to be breaking news. There are a lot of important things happening in the world and reporters are putting this as the most important one. I mean come on!

    October 19, 2009 at 9:50 am |
  44. Jack

    Heidi, I want to say you are one of the top three news anchors on television. You are a mere depiction of a modern day style anchor Walter Chronkite would be proud of because you keep your emotions intact, report the news with honesty, facts and I know you are trusted by millions of people when it comes to excellent journalism.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:51 am |
  45. Hank

    Contrary to one of your conclusions, I am not against huge bonuses because I am feeling pain. It is just does not make any sense to remain on the same wrong as if the financial melt down began never happened. Therefore, it is not because we cannot get the satisfaction of good financial reform that we should take it out al the way on the wacky couple from Denver. This hoax would never had taken the proportion it did without the media's collaboration. There remains much to be done to heal the country from the excess and abuse of the recent past, this run away balloon story is mostly a sign that the media is running out of stories to sell.

    October 19, 2009 at 10:03 am |
  46. CoolGayDad

    Wow talk about BAD parents. Teaching their children to be con-artists at such a young age. Of course they are not any worse than the moms and dads in "Toddlers and Tiaras" in that aspect. This man has an obsession with fame and he is pushing it off on his kids and actually using them to further his aspirations. Nothing six months in jail shouldn't help resolve after a speedy trial. What would have happened if there had been a copter crash or a rescuer injured?? I think his kids would be better off without him, mom seemed to be hanging her head in shame for the get go.

    October 19, 2009 at 10:23 am |
  47. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    What ever the court system desides is what should happen a crime is a crime and the media has the first amendment right on there side most people are out of touch where and why the first amendment was created in the first place it was invented because of the media to help keep the law breakers in office or in the public eye under the control of the constitution CNN was doing what they were created to do to bring out the truth .

    October 19, 2009 at 10:31 am |
  48. Vic

    Both parents should be given the max.
    If they get off...what further message will it give those boys?

    I bet we'll read about one if not all three in about 10 yrs. Sad!

    CNN was not the only channel to cover the breaking news.
    Every major channel had it.
    Bravo for Wolf getting the right answer.
    CNN burst the balloon. LOL

    How could tv stations not cover the breaking story?
    What if that thing had hit a plane?
    I'm not a scientist.
    I couldn't tell if there had been a basket attached to that thing..
    and if a little boy could have been in it & it broke away.

    The authorities were given info from the dad.
    How could they know if it was correct or not at the time?

    I'm glad the sheriff played it out the way they did in "catching" the hoax.

    I hope CNN etc will continue to let us know what the outcome of all this.
    I just wish tv would do it without giving this family any more "face" time
    No more video of the "thing" or family antics...just the facts.

    This hoax involved so many agencies....
    we the public have a right to know what happens to these parents.

    October 19, 2009 at 10:40 am |
  49. Dodie ~ California

    These reality shows are creating a real problem in this country. Now, narcissistic parents, who want to be seen on TV will be producing publicity stunts and possibly endangering their children in the process. This is an excellent example of this growing trend.

    (( We Must put a STOP to all reality shows involving children ))

    Any network producing such shows should be sued for promoting child endangerment!

    October 19, 2009 at 10:44 am |
  50. Daniel

    This is a prime example of "we don't know what is happening, but we have this really cool video feed we want to show you because it is so entertaining!" Please, stop feeding this kind of voyeurism.

    October 19, 2009 at 10:48 am |
  51. omar

    you should just leave them along. Sure, they were dumb, but it's Fox News, CNN, etc fault for going crazy trying to fill in the 24 hours news gap and provide support for advertisers. Stupid things happen like this all the time, but CNN just jumped on it in haste.

    October 19, 2009 at 10:48 am |
  52. Terrie DeFord

    Re: mylar balloon fiasco
    These people should be arrested in front of their children so that the children see what happens when you do something wrong. If the parents are going to teach them to lie, let the parents be the ones who teach them what happens when you get caught!

    October 19, 2009 at 10:49 am |
  53. Cris

    Maybe everyone is mad because the guy made fools out of everyone. Yes he should be charged for the emergency services that were provided, but as to the media and the rest of the world being mad, maybe you shouldn't jump all over every little "interest" story that comes along just because you might be first and get better ratings. He succeeded in making fools out of everyone who followed this story and it is no one's fault but the fools'.

    October 19, 2009 at 10:51 am |
  54. Jason

    The parents should be fined for the federal, state and local costs expended in trying to 'protect' the child. Frankly, this should also include costs incurred by CNN and others who "took to the air" to cover the story. This is far beyond the 'cost of doing business' because of the nature of the story and claims made by the parents. The children will also need to attend some professional counseling so they realize that lying is not right and that their parents made a serious mistake. Most of all, I feel sorry for the children.

    October 19, 2009 at 10:51 am |
  55. Ryan

    People need to relax about this. Not that it was "right", but just because you get duped, doesn't mean you get to sue over it.

    October 19, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  56. Chuck

    This story is so funny! The media allowed itself to be manipulated by some little nobody and now everyone is up in arms about it. Maybe if the media was a little more selective on the stories it selected to report things like this wouldn't happen. Isn't this the pot calling the kettle black? What a hoot!

    October 19, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  57. Dwight

    I'm watching this from Jamaica and was very concerned aboout the wellbeing of the child and empathised with the family. while these new developments of possible hoax is disturbing and would speak ill of the family if indeed a hoax. Please remember that the accusations are to date unsubstantiated therefore people please be patient and not prematurely convict and sentence the family.

    I'll be watching

    October 19, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  58. phil Sarasota,Fl

    Why were the kids not in school ?

    October 19, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  59. Cathy from TN

    Have they been charged/found guilty yet??? It sure sounds like it from your broadcast. I think we need to support the kids who have access to all this publicity and wait until we have the facts.
    While I think it may be a hoax, I wish we could at least attemp to practice "innocent until proven guilty" practice. If found guilty, then let's discuss punishment.
    As part of our continued obsession with what others are doing, we have put the cart before the horse.

    October 19, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  60. Carol Gillooly

    Our world is so broken. At some point people need to be made accountable for their own actions. If a person is mentally ill, they need to be treated, and if these parents are determined to be mentally ill they should be supervised while they are with their children. If they are not determined to be impaired, they should be made to repay the expenses, that we as taxpayers have incurred. Meanwhile, a big reason that the world is broken is that respect and manners have not been a priority anywhere. The children should at least be introduced to this concept .. OK off my soapbox now 🙂

    October 19, 2009 at 10:53 am |
  61. Jeanette

    Isn't it ironic that what these two people wanted was their 15 minutes of fame? There you go...

    October 19, 2009 at 10:53 am |
  62. Harry

    Seriously? Who cares about the baloon bafoons? Focus your energy on asking why insurance companies have a hand in writing health care reform or why there isn't a plan for ending a chaotic, almost decade-long war.

    October 19, 2009 at 10:53 am |
  63. Matthew

    Hold on a minute, first of all, who gives us the right to judge these people. We are not God. All because the news says this could be a publicity stunt does not make it that. If these people are guilty of wrong doing, that needs to be handle to God himself and the court system. Why do we automatically think they are guilty, because the news media thinks they are? Take a step back and stop throwing stones.
    Innocent until proven guilty, remember? Matthew H

    October 19, 2009 at 10:53 am |
  64. Michael from NYC

    Although this specific hoax has outraged people all over the country, it is an unfortunate symptom of a bigger problem that we are facing, which is the detrimental effects that reality TV is having on our culture. People are becoming more obsessed with this nonsense, and in efforts to achieve any kind of notoriety for 15 seconds of fame, they will go to extremely desperate measures to dupe the public. There needs to be legislation implemented to protect us against this kind of deception. Are there no more limits to what one can do to manipulate people in the name of capitalism?

    October 19, 2009 at 10:53 am |
  65. Todd

    They should be required to have family counseling and they should be required to reimburse any expenses that have been incurred in the event of a hoax.
    The news should stop covering them, because, after all, by giving them publicity we are giving them their wish: a reality show. And to the insane out there, no class-action lawsuit should be leveraged. We engage in flippant legal activity all too often.
    This story took entirely too much precedence over more important and worthy stories happening in the lives of humans.

    October 19, 2009 at 10:53 am |
  66. Tom

    Lets calm down now. If the case was so much of a slam dunk then they would have already been arrested. They are innocent until proven guilty.

    Personally I think they were planning a PR stunt with the "flying saucer" in the future. It got away from them while they were testing it. Then it was gone and they truly didn't know where their son was and called for help.

    Then some guy got paid for an interview saying it was a hoax and everyone went gaga.

    We are to quick to be judgmental before knowing all the facts from both sides.

    October 19, 2009 at 10:54 am |
  67. Paula

    Stop the cameras! Press time is what the Hennes were seeking in the first place. Paying restitution won't work as they have a history of walking away from debt. There life seems to center around attention and this is exactly what they are getting.

    October 19, 2009 at 10:54 am |
  68. Dorman McGann

    Why isn't the American public thinking, are they so stupid to think that a boy that size wouldn't keep the balloon from lift off? I'm not a collage graduate but I could figure that much out. I blame the public and the news media for not thinking!! Now all you want to do is find blame with the family.


    October 19, 2009 at 10:54 am |
  69. Shawn Martinez

    These parents have obviously made a horrible decision. However, for the sake of the children, the media should leave the family alone. Paying for the bill and enduring the embarrassment of this hoax is enough consequence.

    October 19, 2009 at 10:54 am |
  70. Mike Klingensmith

    This was planned and carried out by an entire family. This constutes a conspiracy. Thank you's go out to authorities for uncovering the hoax. Now this man (this family) has to face the consequences. My question would be the control factor that Mr. Heene has over his family. These poor kids only did what they were told to do.

    October 19, 2009 at 10:57 am |
  71. wayno

    whats the big deal about balloon boy family
    if tv and media weren,t so anxious to jump on every sensational story without any verification this guy wouldnt get any attention.
    he probably will get a tv show . or become a producer

    October 19, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  72. Chris

    I see this family has been tried and convicted by the courts of the media yet again. Good that the media trial has opened, closed, and found the family guilty even before the Sheriff has made an arrest. Here's a thought, looking at the reaction of the family known for their histrionics and not good acting, it seems strange to me that when the family thought the son was on board, they were no longer over the top, but looked like honest concerned parents. They either went from bad actors to the best actors in the world or they honestly thought their son was aboard that vehicle. And having dealt with six year old's repeatedly in the past, that the kid would say something that condemning is no surprise as I have heard them say things like the "the unicorn beat me with waffles" in all seriousness. I recall the child in the well incident where the child ended up hiding in a barn and it was a hoax. We blamed the family. Is this another child in the well?

    October 19, 2009 at 10:59 am |
  73. Patti

    There is no doubt that this couple, when charged with this outragous stunt should be held responsible for the cost of the search for their child. Thank God no one that was part of the response team was injuried or any innocent by stander.

    As for the children I never understood why child services did not go into that home after the wife swap episode. I remember how upset the wife that enter that home appeared during her time in that home.

    October 19, 2009 at 10:59 am |
  74. Cedric

    It is unfortunate that they use their child for publicity. When kids are in danger citizens will go to great lengths to ensure they are safe and unharmed. To play on emotions like that is senseless and selfish. The should apologize to America and held accountable.

    October 19, 2009 at 10:59 am |
  75. CaroleW.Palm Beach

    As both a mother and grandmother, I sat riveted watching this drama unfold and my heart sank when the balloon landed empty. Only people with severe personality disorder could have concocted a hoax of such major proportions with toal disregard for the consequences to both their children, themselves and the public. They diverted law enforcement and emergency medical personnel,disrupted air traffic at Denver airport, the media, played on the emotions of this country, involved minor children in in a conspiracy of lies and deception. They are totally unfit tor aise these children. With all the problems and faults of foster care, these boiys would be far better off without these people as role models.

    October 19, 2009 at 10:59 am |
  76. Gary Rauchenecker

    Of course, the Heene's should pay every cent of restitution; however, it seems unlikely this is going to be fully recovered..

    There must be other alternatives to not only fulfill the resulting penalties, but also to the benefit of society. After some prison time, why not set up some speaking engagements (or short films) targeted to youth commmunities, and criminals already serving time, on the social implications of the reality television industry.

    October 19, 2009 at 11:01 am |
  77. Scott C.

    I think the Heene's should be charged found guilty. There were numerous problems caused by this that endangered others lives and cost many entities a good deal of money. To name a few:

    Airliners that were delayed and placed in holding patterns or rerouted endangered the lives of the crew and passengers for creating the risk of unplanned flight, the costs of these delays and the controllers who had to scramble into action to handle the additional traffic load. The trickle down from there as to the effects on the rest of the airport operations and the passengers.

    Rescue teams, the many who were involved and some of which were deployed. The risks they partake in are based on their knowledge of which if in this case were false, risked their own lives for not. Thank god the Army National Guard never had to execute what was reported, that they would lower someone down to capture the balloon to recover it or somehow control its decent. The cost of all the agencies involvement and the trickle down is something most don't think about. Well, I do and I hope that your continued reporting on the story educates others to this, beyond the personal ethics of it all!

    October 19, 2009 at 11:01 am |
  78. Vern

    One question that seems to be missed in this discussion. Why didn't Sheriff Jim Alderden have someone calculate the lift that would be provided by a balloon of that size? If the calculation has been done they would have quickly realized that the balloon could not have possibly contained a child. Obviously it is time that science and physics be reintroduced into our education for every sheriff and child.

    October 19, 2009 at 11:05 am |
  79. Kimi

    That couple should be given 6 months in jail each, BUT at separate times. Let the other experience being a single parent while the other serve time. Maybe they would appreciate their children more.
    Let them be a lesson to those greedy for 15 minutes of fame.

    October 19, 2009 at 11:09 am |
  80. Mike Boyett

    Dear CNN,
    I live about 50 miles South of the Henne's, as the balloon flies. Sorry for that pun, and that's what I think of the whole episode, a joke. It is a direct result of our desire for instant news and to be entertained at the same time. I admit to being drawn to the story and hurrying home to turn on CNN, but really why all the ramped up anger from people?

    Demands for jail time, restitution, maybe we could send them to Singapore for a good old fashioned cane beating? Doesn't anyone have any compassion?

    Take a look at their house and car with plastic for a rear window. They don't have any money – and those public servants were on duty anyway. Actual damages are minimal.

    Give them some parenting classes, probation with no video work allowed ought to be enough punishment for these whacos. For those crying for major punishment, get over it. We don't need to take cells away from those who deserve to be there, and don't take a foster home spot away from an abused child.

    October 19, 2009 at 11:11 am |
  81. Dodie ~ California

    If found guilty in a court of law, the Heene's should pay full restitution for all expenses incurred. I would also recommend CPS investigate the Heene family for potential child endangerment. This father seems adamant to be seen on TV and he could place his children at risk.

    October 19, 2009 at 11:17 am |
  82. Sassy

    I hear CNN at work all day so I just want to say thanks for keeping us all up to date on everything that is going on. Whoever said that the children should be put in foster homes is out of their mind. Why ruin a child's life because of their parent's actions!!! A parenting class would have nothing to do with someone's need to be in the public eye!!! DUH! I think that they should all have to attend structured family counseling to ensure these parents can communicate with these children and teach them that there are just things that you DON'T do to get attention! I think that they should have to pay back all of the money that was spent in rescue and search efforts and have to do hours among hours of community service. Sending their children away while they served "jail time" would only hurt the emotional/physical development of the children. That comment obviously came from someone without kids!!! THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK!!!

    October 19, 2009 at 11:18 am |
  83. Vic

    Everyone was fed the "balloon" info from the dad.
    Correct me if I'm wrong....but the dad adjusted the info to make it appear possible.
    Several scientific guys were trying to calculate during the live coverage of up up & away.

    October 19, 2009 at 11:20 am |
  84. Dodie ~ California

    We Must put a Stop to all reality shows involving children due to creating potential child endangerment

    October 19, 2009 at 11:23 am |
  85. Duane Carpenter

    My God, this balloon story has made bigger headlines than the kid that got beaten to death in Chicago.
    What happened to the educational system, for humanity? We would not be getting idiots trying to make a buck off of entertainment, if we had a conscience towards each other. It seems what is conscionable is making a buck off of the next news story or some venue of entertainment.
    The news is responsible for the plausible hoax, but the Chicago black boy, bludgeoned to death, was no hoax, and now it is no longer news. Swept under the Rug.
    America, beauty queens and football teams, nothing better than to make our outword appearance of glitz and glamor, nothing more than "smoke and mirrors" for the world to see, in this Christian God loving country.

    October 19, 2009 at 11:29 am |
  86. j. douglas

    what has happened to this country? i thought it was innocent until proven guilty. those kids seemed pretty healthy and loved. people are talking about putting them a foster home?! obviously they have no idea about the system they are talking about (probably don't even have kids). taking children away from parents who love and take care of them is no solution – EVER! If they are proven guilty, then they should have to pay the expenses of the county. leave the children out of the weirdo rants!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 19, 2009 at 11:34 am |
  87. Annie

    Maybe the mother didn't know how that balloon was built, but the father knew. You can't tell me he hasn't been trying to get it off the ground with something inside. The thing was a piece of crap held together with tape. The guy knew enough not to call 911 himself and lie, he had her do it.

    October 19, 2009 at 11:34 am |
  88. Dodie ~ California

    Our system is creating this fiasco! I see it as a system error more than a parent error. If Americans do not feed into this situation, parent's who use their children in order to be famous and bring mega bucks would end!

    We Must put a Stop to all reality shows involving children due to creating potential child endangerment

    October 19, 2009 at 12:05 pm |
  89. Peleti

    Jail time for the parents, especially for the dad.

    October 19, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  90. Jeff

    The Heene's should be forced to make full restitution, and have a taste of what jail is like. Just letting the balloon go alone is violating FAA regulations. He endangered many people on the ground as well as in the air!!!

    October 19, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  91. Michael Smith

    At a minimum they should be responsible for paying the costs for the police, fire, and other emergency personnel that responded to this. One of these emergency workers could have been killed responding to this or in some other accident. I do, however, believe that they should be prosecuted for this.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  92. Duffy Phillips

    Of course the parents should be responsible for the costs of the rescue efforts. The news media went crazy on our local stations. I only wish the media would employ a few people who could read children's expressions better – if you are a parent you could see there was something not right with the 2 boys when ever they were on camera. I bet there were so many parents just screaming at their T.V.'s saying "get the kids to tell the truth!". As far as the DPS in Colorado – good luck. They have a horrible track record up here. The kids are fine with the parents in my opinion.
    A side note – This reminds me of the Jon Benet Ramsey case. Really has a lot of the same elements, and they recently re-opened the case.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  93. chuck

    As a retired teacher of 30 yrs, I've witnessed my share of outragous things that parents will do "for the sake of whatever". Young people face many challenges these days and it certainly does'nt help when you have people like the HEENE'S having these young and impressionable children take part in an obvious hoax. I hope they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Question, I have"nt heard anything about the dangers imposed by this balloon sailing haphazardly through 2 counties. Isn't that a danger to people and property?

    October 19, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  94. David

    If they are actually guilty then I suggest counseling and some form of community service for both Mr. and Mrs. Heene. They do actually seem like nice people to me though.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  95. David

    One question, I thought I heard Richard Heene say that the balloon was electrified with a million volts of electricity. Is that a lot of electricity?

    October 19, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  96. Bruce, Demorestville, Ontario

    Enough with the balloon story already. We are switching OFF the situation room until we are thoroughly convinced coverage of this nonsense has ceased!

    October 19, 2009 at 5:41 pm |
  97. Lakeitha Robinson

    The Heene's should be forced to make full restitution, and have a taste of what jail is like.They should be ashamed of themselves for putting their child through that!!!!I think that they should have to pay back all of the money that was spent in rescue and search efforts and have to do hours among hours of community service.He endangered many people on the ground as well as in the air!!!If they are proven guilty, then they should have to pay the expenses of the county.

    October 19, 2009 at 8:33 pm |
  98. Luke

    WELL THEY WANTED PUBLICITY??? THEY GOT IT! child services need to take the kids away because the kids will become liars if they stay around them to long!

    October 20, 2009 at 12:42 am |
  99. Gordon Miller

    I apologize for initially criticizing CNN for unfairly exploiting the balloon boy family. I believed the sheriff and neighbors who at first said they did not believe the situation was a hoax, but after seeing the videos released the next day and hearing the sheriff's later admission he was trying to trick the family into cooperating with him, I agree that the father should be put in prison or a mental hospital and the children should be put into a better home environment. Unsure whether the mother deserves punishment or just protection from the domineering husband?

    October 20, 2009 at 3:31 am |
  100. Raphaël Rivolgo

    United States of America.., where everything is possible....

    October 20, 2009 at 6:46 am |
  101. robyncaffrey keyser west virginia

    att : heidi "
    ballon parents should be charge with ,

    cotributing 'of putting 3 young kids lieing to the ' athoritys'
    and other ' public services '
    and not to mention the hole nation was at a standby :

    and putting them at a high wrisk : in the danger zone
    as this happening is showing them 3 miners, its ok to "cry-wolf "
    or hard – ball with the news.

    everything ' and ' anything is possible )

    ( remember ) accidents ""' dont happen , they are accured.

    besides : thease kids got to know its a harrobile way to live

    October 20, 2009 at 9:16 am |
  102. Tlee

    In the case of the Heene Family, he wants to be on a reality show I think they need to have intervention from Nanny 911 !

    October 20, 2009 at 10:33 am |
  103. Andrea

    I think that the worst punishment that these parents could receive is for everyone to ignore them and not give them the attention that they are seeking. Requiring them pay restitution would also be good, as long as none of us have to hear anything more about them.

    October 20, 2009 at 11:28 am |
  104. WG

    They should not be rewarded by getting a show or making money from the stunt. The father definately needs medical help, he appears to be a bomb ready to explode, not a good atsmophere for children. I wonder what happened behind closed doors with Falcon, after he told on the family.

    October 20, 2009 at 11:33 am |
  105. Spring

    They should be fined heavily. Also, I'm amazed how hyped up this gets. If anyone bothered to watch Mythbusters, you'd already KNOW that the boy was never in the air with that balloon anyway!

    October 20, 2009 at 11:59 am |
  106. julie clark

    This story is sad. I watched it unfold as many americans did. I hung on the thought of how scary this must be for the parents. Then it landed and the thought that the boy fell to his death. Again I felt for the parents. Now I learn it was a hoax. A stunt for a reality TV show. How sad. These parents need to be punished so they can show their children the correct rights and wrongs. I do not beleive the father AND mother should go to jail for 6 years. As i feel the child was not really in any danger: He was in the attic. But I do feel a sort jail sentence is appropriate. As well as a big fine and LOTS of community service. Since he used up community resources.

    October 20, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  107. chuck b // coastal norht carolina

    You know what is really sad about this story,that I've not heard is

    October 20, 2009 at 3:16 pm |
  108. Michele R.

    Enough. Bad parenting; kids will be (honest) kids; reality tv. The end of the world as we know it. Please find something significant with which to charge the parents and set an example. Children should not be playthings that we prop up for income (see Jon and Kate plus eight) but shapeable human beings whom we hope through example will be better than us and make for a better world.

    October 20, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  109. Janet W

    The Sheriff's office has been somewhat unprofessional in its news conferences, and while it *seems* like a hoax, the people haven't been charged yet, let alone proven guilty. If it was truly a hoax, you have to question the way the children are treated - would good parents pretend their child was in a life-threatening event? But putting that aside, the event evidently created delays at the Denver airport. I wonder how many people missed connecting flights? They would probably like to weigh-in on punishment.

    October 21, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  110. David

    Yes Janet W., the Heene family has yet to be charged, and if they are charged, we don't yet know what they will be charged with. Momentary delays at the Denver airport? I'm sorry to hear about that.

    October 21, 2009 at 5:56 pm |
  111. jeannie ligsay

    What about the dangers to others...we could of lost a helicopter or a plane over Denver...with many deaths....this guy was only thinking of himself....He deserves the max.

    October 21, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  112. Nathan

    I absolutely think these parents should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for this stunt and made to pay full restitution for the taxpayer money spent on it. Further more, these parents are crazy and reckless. They carry their children storm chasing. If you saw the footage they made of the children during hurricane Gustav, I think that alone indicates they're unfit for raising these children. The balloon stunt just further proves that they're a menace to both society and their children.

    October 22, 2009 at 5:14 am |
  113. Darrell

    I think the dad should get his own reality TV show: Big Bubba Survivor – Life in the Federal Penitentiary.

    October 22, 2009 at 9:48 am |
  114. david sugar

    LOL! this whole story exemplefies the ignorance of people with little or no brain wave activity! that"balloon" couldnt lift the weight of CHICKEN!much less the weight of a small boy!!!! how come now one has mentioned this? or is commen sense or lack of just limited to media and "law enforcment"? da.

    October 29, 2009 at 11:51 am |