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Investigators Burst Balloon Boy Bubble

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment

Richard Heene and his wife, Mayumi Heene, may have not been expecting quite the media storm that they have received since announcing that their 6-year-old son floated off in their home-made helium balloon.  Instead of the positive media frenzy that the reality TV couple was hoping for; they are now facing the very REAL possibility of jail time.

In a recent article published by the Associated Press (AP), investigators have determined that the so-called ‘balloon boy parents’ acted alone when they fabricated a story about their son floating off in a runaway balloon. It turns out that the couple did this all in an effort to gain publicity.

TSK! TSK!

Apparently, the TV couple loved the limelight so much that they decided to take matters into their own hands and get the entire family (not to mention much of the Larimer County law enforcement, National Guard and even the FAA) involved in the search for their son.

As some may recall; on October 15, 2009, the Heenes made a frantic phone call to police in which they stated that their 6-year-old son, Falcon, had floated away from their Fort Collins home in a UFO-shaped helium balloon that Richard Heene had built in his backyard. What ensued was approximately a 50-mile chase to try to rescue Falcon out of what looked like a flimsy looking structure resembling a Jiffy Pop flying saucer. In the meantime, millions of Americans stopped what they were doing and stood transfixed to their television sets as live coverage poured in to record the unfolding media sensation.

In the end, Falcon was found not in the runaway balloon; but, rather, he was found hiding in a box in the attic of his parents house. When asked why he didn’t respond when he heard local authorities or his parents calling his name while they searched the house for him, little Falcon dropped the bomb by saying,

You guys said, that, um, we did this for the show…

GOTCHA’!

On November 13, 2009, Richard Heene pleaded guilty to a felony count of falsely influencing the sheriff while his wife, Mayumi Heene, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of knowingly filing a false report with police. Now, the couple not only faces jail time, they also face having to pay a substantial amount of restitution regarding the incident. Some approximate numbers that the couple may be looking at:

  • Appx. $16k for the two National Guard helicopters used to track the makeshift aircraft
  • Appx. $8,500 in damages to the field where the craft landed
  • Appx. $11k by the FAA for launching an unauthorized aircraft

In addition, approximately $8,000 was spent by the Larimer County police department in overtime alone in the search for Falcon; and another $13,500 was spent by law enforcement agencies from nearby communities (including the U.S. Forest Service)- all of whom were helping in the search for Falcon. [source]

Prior to the balloon boy hoax, Mayumi Heene and her husband, Richard, twice starred on the reality TV show, Wife Swap. Below is a video chronology of events leading up to the Heenes’ current ‘reality’ situation:

Falcon Heene Disappears in Home-made Balloon:


Falcon Found Safe, Not in Balloon, but At Home


Falcon Drops a Bomb..


For more information about criminal investigations, contacCat’s Eye P.I. today at 919.878.9988.

10 Bodies Later, Police Face Tough Questions in Sowell Case

November 4, 2009 Leave a comment

After serving 15 years in jail for the rape of a 21 year-old female back in 1989, it seems that Anthony Sowell didn’t learn anything when he was released from prison in 2005 except how to kill innocent victims.  And now, after finding ten bodies and one skull in Sowell’s Cleveland home, questions are being raised not at Sowell but at police.

After being released from prison in 2005, Sowell moved into a 3-story house in southeast Cleveland, which he shared with his mother.  A registered sex offender, Sowell was required to check in regularly at the sheriff’s office, and while officers didn’t have the right to enter Sowell’s house, they would occasionally stop by to make sure that he was there.  If you could get past the awful stench that permeated throughout the entire neighborhood, things seemed otherwise quiet and relatively normal…that is, until a woman went to police in late September 2009 to report that she had been raped by Sowell in his home.  Ironically, the last time that police had stopped by to “check up” on Sowell was just hours before the rape was reported.

When police went back with a search warrant and entered Sowell’s home on October 29th, they were surprised to discover six decomposing bodies.  According to Lieutenant Thomas Stacho, one body was found in a shallow grave in the backyard, one body was found in the basement, two bodies were found in a third floor living room, and two bodies were located in an upstairs crawl space.  All of the bodies were identified as black females who had been strangled to death. Police located Sowell approximately one mile from his home on October 31st and immediately arrested him.

According to Powell Caesar, a spokesman for the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s office, the bodies that were found could have been dead for a matter of months or possibly years.  It will take them time to figure out the identities of some of the victims due to how badly decomposed the bodies are.  Additionally, since the first six bodies were discovered, an additional four have also been found, leading investigators to believe that the total count of victims may not be over just yet.

The bigger question on everyone’s minds, however, is “How is it that police didn’t do something about this earlier, especially when neighbors in the area had been complaining about a foul odor?”

Records show that city councilman, Zack Reed had called the city health department back in 2007 after a resident in Sowell’s neighborhood told him about an odor that “smelled like a dead body”.  For a while, residents thought that the abhorrent odor was coming from a local sausage and head cheese factory named Ray’s Sausage.  Renee Cash, whose family has owned Ray’s Sausage for over 50 years, said that the smell was even offensive to them.  Suspecting that perhaps they were the cause of the odor, they had both their sewer lines and grease traps replaced.  But the smell was still there.

Too Little; Too Late?

The recent charges against Sowell come after years of complaints about Sowell’s frequent attacks on women.  The owner of a local business located just across the street from Sowell’s house, Fawcett Bess, claims that he found Mr. Sowell in the bushes just outside of his home, naked and standing over a woman who was bloodied, beaten and also naked.  Mr. Bess called 911, and an ambulance came to take the woman away.  However, when police showed up over an hour later, they never interviewed Sowell.

The lack of investigation into Sowell is quickly taking center stage as more bodies are being discovered and more questions are being left unanswered.  Had it not been for the recent rape accusation, would police have ever discovered the bodies in Sowell’s home? How many more people would’ve had to die?  Records indicate that it took several weeks to assign an officer to the case involving the woman who accused Sowell of raping her.  Why did it take so long for police to catch on to what was going on?  And more importantly, if police were “checking in” on Sowell all along, occasionally stopping by his home, how could they have missed the unmistakable smell of decomposing bodies? Shouldn’t it have served as a warning that something was amiss?

For more information about criminal investigations, contact Cat’s Eye P.I. today at 919.878.9988.

The County Fair: A Great Place for Food, Rides…and Killers?

September 22, 2009 Leave a comment

According to a recent news article,  a criminally insane murderer escaped during a mental hospital field trip to a county fair near Spokane, Washington on Thursday, September 17th.

Phillip Arnold Paul was one of thirty-one patients who were taking a field trip with 11 other staff members of Eastern State Hospital.  Paul, age 47, had been committed to Eastern State Hospital after he was acquitted by reason of insanity in the 1987 slaying of an elderly woman. Knowing all of this, why would you want to bring someone like Paul to a fair?

In order to travel on group outings, all patients from Eastern State Hospital have to be cleared by a treatment team.  These patients wear normal, street clothing, and it is not mandatory that everyone stay together as long as staff members can keep each patient within eyesight at all times.

Paul spent almost three days on the run from authorities before he was picked up on Sunday, September 20, 2009 near Goldendale, WA.  He is currently locked down in a secure area of Eastern State Hospital under supervision.

So, what about the motive for why Paul attempted to escape? According to local authorities, Paul’s escape was meticulously planned.  One news report had the following to say:

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said Paul conned a friend into giving him a ride from Spokane to Goldendale, about 180 miles southwest, near the Oregon border. The friend believed Paul had been legally released. When the friend saw news reports of the escape, he contacted authorites and led them to the point where he had dropped off Paul.  The escape was apparently triggered when Paul’s request to move from the mental hospital to a residential facility in downtown Spokane was rejected by a judge earlier this month. The judge found that Paul represented “a threat to public safety.” [source]

Facing much criticism and outrage from the public, Eastern State Hospital has come under great scrutiny as local authorities try to figure out how something like this could have been allowed to happen.  State senator, Mike Carrell, is apparently in the middle of trying to draw up legislation to prevent this from happening again.  In the meantime, head of the state Department of Social and Health Services, Susan Dreyfus, has put a temporary stop on all field trips for those mental health patients who have been committed for treatment as a result of criminal proceedings.

One thing is for certain, however.  Someone with the criminal and mental history that Paul has may have been better off sitting this one out.

For more information about domestic surveillance, contact Cat’s Eye Private Investigations today at 919.878.9988 or submit a confidential request form here.

Categories: criminal, news