The local sheriff in Ft. Collins, Colo., is defending the Heene family, saying at a press conference that he doesn't think Richard and Mayumi Heene were faking their emotions during yesterday's ordeal.

Larimer County Sheriff James Alderden just gave a press conference discussing his department's ongoing investigation into the circumstances under which the Balloon Boy story took flight yesterday, and he clearly forecasted his conclusion that he didn't think it was a hoax.

The family just didn't seem to be faking it, he said—their behavior and reactions to yesterday's events, including their horror at finding that Falcon wasn't in the balloon when it landed, just seemed genuine. And after Falcon was found safe and sound, they let sheriffs interview him—alone—without objection.


It was a strange press conference. One question began, "you may be one of the few people on this planet that doesn't think this was a hoax at this point." Alderden said he believed that Falcon had previously tried to crawl into the balloon: "Our understanding is that the boy had been trying to climb in there and was yelled at by the parents. He thought that he was responsible for this balloon taking off when it wasn't intended to."

Alderden also confirmed that Heene's first call after the balloon's release was to a local television station. "His first call was to 9 News, second call was to FAA, and they called 911 some time after that," he said. But he defended the decision, saying that Heene knew that a news helicopter was needed immediately.

"I would say this is not a typical American family," he said.