FORT COLLINS, Colorado – A mother's confession that she and her husband faked their 6-year-old son's disappearance in a runaway balloon shouldn't have been made public, an attorney for the father said.
Denver attorney David Lane blasted Larimer County officials for releasing documents Friday in the investigation into whether Mayumi and Richard Heene staged a hoax, saying the papers should have remained sealed until arrests were made.
"It's further proof of what that sheriff will do to further his own agenda and try to make it unfair to the Heenes," Lane told The Coloradoan in Fort Collins.
He said the Heenes haven't even seen the affidavit, which was used to get a warrant to search their home.
Sheriff Jim Alderden and Larimer County District Attorney Larry Abrahamson said releasing such documents is common if there's not an order to seal a document.
Mayumi Heene admitted to deputies that she and her husband knew their son, Falcon, was hiding in their Fort Collins home while authorities were chasing the homemade, UFO-shaped helium balloon, according to the affidavit. She is represented by lawyer Lee Christian, who was traveling and didn't immediately respond to messages left with his office.
The Heenes' reports that the boy was inside a compartment on the bottom of the balloon set off a 50-mile scramble Oct. 15 in northern Colorado by police, firefighters and National Guard and media helicopters. The boy was later found at the home, where he said he'd been hiding in the garage because he was afraid he was in trouble.
Alderden said he will pursue charges against both parents, accusing them of staging a hoax for publicity as they tried to land a deal for a reality TV show.
It's not clear if Mayumi Heene's alleged confession could be used in a case against her husband, said Denver defense attorney Karen Steinhauser, a former prosecutor and current adjunct professor at the University of Denver's Sturm College of Law.
Communication between spouses is considered privileged, and testimony about what was said can be blocked, Steinhauser said.
"The whole idea is to protect relationships," she said.
Complicating the case, however, is whether the children were involved in the discussions.
"I'm not aware of anything granting family privilege," Steinhauser said.