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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.

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Lack of Surveillance to Blame for Gang Rape of 15-Year Old?

October 28, 2009 Leave a comment

If you saw a young girl being brutally beaten and raped before your eyes, would you reach out to help in some way, or would you simply stand there and watch?  It seems that more people would rather stand by and watch; at least, this was the case in the recent report that is sending shockwaves around the country.

According to recent news reports, a 15-year old girl was attending her homecoming dance at Richmond High School when she was robbed, brutally beaten and raped by at least a dozen or more people.  What makes the situation even more horrifying is the fact that there were supposedly a total of 20 or so people who either participated in the rape or who watched as the rape took place and did NOTHING.

So, what caused the rape to take place?  Supposedly, the 15-year old (whose name is being withheld) left the homecoming dance around 9:30 p.m. to be picked up by her father.  However, on the way out from the dance, a friend asked her to walk with [them] to the other side of the school property into a dimly lit alley.  Once on the other side of the school building, the girl was met by a bunch of [students] who may or may not have had alcohol.  Just outside of the school, the girl was then robbed, and brutally beaten and raped for over two hours.  The girl only received medical attention when she was found laying unconscious on school property.  Currently, she is recovering in a hospital and does not have any life-threatening injuries.  But many people- especially parents are outraged over this incident.  How could a 15-year-0ld student have been raped on school property for over two hours without any faculty members knowing about it?

The Bystander Effect

According to some criminology and psychology experts, one of the reasons why witnesses may have done nothing to stop the rape of this young woman is due to something called the ‘bystander effect’.  According to Drew Carberry, a director at the National Council on Crime Prevention:

If you are in a crowd and you look and see that everyone is doing nothing, then nothing becomes the norm. [source]

Additionally, Carberry states that witnesses are less likely to report a crime because they reinforce this notion that reporting the crime isn’t necessary.  The other possibility is that witnesses within the group may think that someone else has already taken the opportunity to report the crime.  Responsibility becomes diffused among the group and almost ceases to exist.

So, where were the school officials when all of this was taking place?

No one seems to know.  What we do know is that in January of 2010, surveillance cameras were scheduled to be installed on the school property, specifically in the very area where the rape took place.

In the meantime, rumors are swirling that people were coming out of the dance when they heard that a rape was taking place.  So, can the people who stood by and did nothing actually be charged with a crime? It’s not as easy as you would think.  In order to be charged for a crime, you would have to prove that the bystanders somehow aided and abetted those involved in the rape, robbery and beating of the 15-year-old girl, either by restraining the victim or by participating in some other way such as blocking her path to prevent her from leaving, etc.

Arrests & Suspects

As part of an ongoing investigation to determine exactly who was involved in this heinous crime, investigators are offering a $20,000 reward to anyone who comes forward with information that will aid in the arrest and conviction of those involved in the 2.5 hour sexual assault that the female victim had to endure.  So far, the Richmond Police Department has arrested five people involved in the gang rape, but these aren’t the only people responsible for this crime.

It has been said that the victim could bring a civil suit against the school because, legally, the school has an obligation to protect its students by providing adequate security.  That being said, most of us are still reeling from this horrific event as we are left asking the question: “How could a 15-year-old-student be raped and beaten for 2.5 hours go in a public place without anyone saying anything or calling the police?”  Perhaps, in time, we will know the answer.

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

Do You Have Tickets to the Gun Show? Mayor Bloomberg Does.

October 9, 2009 Leave a comment

What has happened is that these so-called ‘private sellers’ are using gun shows to run profitable businesses while criminals and traffickers are using the private sellers to buy guns anonymously and easily..no questions asked… [source]

New York City mayor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is working overtime to expose the loophole hidden in gun shows.  The mayor was quick to point out that he is NOT trying to violate the 2nd Amendment or people’s right to bear arms.  Rather, he is trying to expose the inherent dangers that could possibly stem from private, unlicensed gun dealers selling deadly weapons to people who haven’t passed background checks.

The Investigation

Mayor Bloomberg put together this wide-ranging sting operation, hiring a team of 40 private investigators from an outside firm to purchase weapons at seven different gun shows.  Investigators attempted 33 purchases from 30 private gun sellers, and after the private investigators audibly stated to the sellers that they couldn’t pass a background check, the majority of sellers still proceeded with the gun sales 22 times. The result? Investigators discovered that 74% of the dealers at each of the gun shows were selling weapons to people who they knew couldn’t pass a background check.

Advocates of tighter gun control argue that this loophole in gun shows makes it that much easier for criminals to acquire guns.  It also makes it more difficult for police to trace the origin of the weapons if they are used in crimes.

The sting operations took place from May 2009 to August 2009 at seven gun shows held in Tennessee, Ohio and Nevada and cost NYC taxpayers approximately $1.5 million.  What is perhaps the most surprising is that the aforementioned states are among many states that allow private, unlicensed gun dealers to sell weapons at gun shows without first conducting background checks.  However, nine states (including New York) have passed laws to close the loophole, requiring background checks on purchases made at gun shows.  And according to one article that was published recently:

The Bloomberg administration went ahead with the investigation despite a Department of Justice warning in 2007 that came after the city conducted a similar sting in 2006 to catch straw purchases, which is when someone fills out the paperwork and buys a firearm for another person.

The city has no legal authority over the dealers and is using its findings to make a point about the unregulated sales of so-called “occasional dealers.” A copy of the report is being sent to every member of Congress and the findings will be shared the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

In the meantime, the National Rifle Association (NRA) claims that Mayor Bloomberg’s sting operation was nothing more than a publicity stunt.  What do you think?

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

Annie Le Murder Still Leaves Questions About Motive

September 18, 2009 Leave a comment

A 24 year-old  graduate student of  Yale University’s School of Medicine was brutally murdered just before her wedding day.  Annie Le was set to wed James Widawsky, a 24 year-old physics student at Columbia University, on Sunday, September 13th, but never made it down the aisle. According to the Connecticut medical examiner; on Sunday, September 13th, Le’s body was found stuffed in a crawl space of the research center where she worked in the Yale Medical School complex.  Evidence showed that Le (who only stood at 4 feet 11 inches tall and weighed around 90 lbs) was killed by asphyxiation caused by severe neck trauma.

But who would dare to commit such a heinous crime?

Police have since turned their attention to 24 year-old Raymond Clark III, who worked as an animal laboratory technician at Yale University in the same building as  Le.  Clark worked in a custodial role at the same laboratory where Le conducted research.  One of his duties was cleaning the cages where the experimental mice lived, something which would have brought him into contact with Le. [source] However, investigators first became suspicious of Clark after FBI agents and Yale police were combing the basement of the Yale University laboratory building where Le was last seen.

Among the people searching the lab was Clark.

According to a law enforcement official involved in the investigation, Clark moved among the other officials in an “apparent effort to cover his tracks” [source].  The Hartford Courant reports:

One investigator, among a group of investigators who were in the lab interviewing employees and students shortly after Le disappeared, witnessed Clark trying to hide lab cleaning equipment that they discovered contained blood spatters. Clark was observed cleaning up areas that Le was in before she was reported missing, the law enforcement official said.

While this aroused suspicion among some of the investigators, the final piece that led to Clark’s arrest on September 17, 2009, was the discovery that evidence in both the ceiling and in the crawl space where Le’s body was found contained DNA of both Le and Clark.

As The Evidence Grows, So Does the Question: “Why?”

Adding to the already mounting evidence against Clark, computer records showed that Le had used her Yale ID swipe card to enter the laboratory where she worked on the morning of September 8, 2009.  The Hartford Courant also reported that Clark’s swipe card records showed that he had entered the same room as Le shortly afterwards, indicating that he was the last person to see her alive.  Add, still to this, the fact that Clark failed his polygraph, that there were scratches on his body as well as the fact that he attempted to clean up the crime scene, and you’ve got what seems like a pretty open and shut case.

But there is still the question as to the motive.

Sources say that just hours before Le was reported missing by her roommate, Clark had sent a text message to Le requesting a meeting to discuss the cleanliness of the cages that the research animals were kept in, leading some to believe that the crime may have been linked to an issue of workplace violence.  There are also several other sources which are describing Clark as a “control freak” who often clashed with researchers and viewed the laboratory as his territory.

But still…why Annie Le?

Chris Le had the following to say about his sister after learning about her tragic death:

Stuck in a 4’11 frame, she had a 7′ tall personality.  She will always live on through us.. [source]

For more information about hiring a private investigator for a criminal investigation, contact Cat’s Eye P.I. today at 919.878.9988.