Now that the local sheriff says he has evidence that the whole thing was a hoax and some kind of stunt aimed at getting the Heene family a reality TV show gig, all sorts of questions arise about the "Balloon Boy" escapade.
— Has our obsession with reality TV gone too far?
— Have the 24/7 news media gone overboard on covering these kinds of stories?
— If it's true that they staged the whole thing, should Richard and Maymi Heene be allowed to keep their three sons? Keep in mind that Richard has said several times that it wasn't a hoax — he really did think six-year-old Falcon was flying high above Colorado in that homemade balloon Thursday.
And so on.
Here's how Fox31 in Denver sums up the story today:
The Larimer County Sheriff on Sunday said criminal charges will be filed against Richard and Mayumi Heene, the parents of a 6-year-old boy thought to have been swept away in a homemade helium balloon last week, after determing the entire incident was a hoax.
"We have evidence to indicate (the Heenes) were marketing themselves for a reality television show in the future," Sheriff Jim Alderden said in a news conference in Fort Collins, alluding to a confession by one or both of the parents.
Alderden said the Heenes will face charges of Conspiracy, Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor, False Reporting to Authorities, and Attempting to Influence a Public Servant. Alderden said no charges had been filed as of Sunday, and the parents weren't under arrest. Some of the most serious charges each carry a maximum sentence of six years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
"Clearly, we were manipulated by the family and the media was manipulated by the family," Alderden said.
Seems like time for a poll on this story.
Update at 3:25 p.m. ET: KUSA-TV has posted video from the sheriff's news conference here.