FORT COLLINS, Colo. – A newly released video shows the mother of the 6-year-old boy purported to be in a runaway balloon finally acknowledging to authorities it was all a hoax — contrary to her husband's repeated public denials just before reporting to jail.
The video interviews obtained by the Fort Collins Coloradoan Friday show Mayumi Heene telling sheriff's officials that the Oct. 15 event was a hoax that she and her husband orchestrated to gain notoriety and land a reality TV show.
"We tried working so hard to make money to survive. It's a shame to come up with this idea," Mayumi Heene told a Larimer County Sheriff's investigator during an interview days after the flight televised worldwide. "This was something that could take me, take us to the point we wanted to be at."
The boy, Falcon, was hiding at home during the balloon's five-hour ride.
Mayumi Heene pleaded guilty to filing a false report and her husband, Richard Heene, pleaded guilty to attempting to influence a public servant. He began serving a 30-day jail sentence Jan. 11. His wife will serve a 20-day sentence after him.
Richard Heene told The Associated Press before reporting to jail that he truly believed his son was in the balloon but pleaded guilty to prevent his wife from being deported to Japan.
"Now folks out there will probably be saying, ah this is a bunch of crap, but there are lies, after lies, after lies that have been told to persecute me," Heene told the AP, days before beginning his jail term.
Richard Heene also said that because his wife's first language is Japanese, she got confused and thought that "hoax" meant "an exhibition" when authorities questioned her.
In her interview with the sheriff's official, Mayumi Heene said she earned a bachelor's degree in English literature from a Japanese college. She told the sheriff's investigator about the hoax after she was told she'd just failed a lie detector test. Richard Heene also was told he failed a polygraph test, but he continued to maintain his innocence. He also said he was tired and has diabetes and that he needed to see his wife.
Steven C. Barber, a 48-year-old filmmaker who has known Heene for more than 10 years, said last week that he still believes in him and plans to prove him right with a documentary he expects to release later this year titled, "Balloon Boy: Guilty Until Proven Innocent."