Posts Tagged ‘investigation’

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.


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…


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.


Investigator Tries to Find Justice for Murdered Police Officer

October 27, 2009 Leave a comment

The trial for murdered police officer, Richard May of the East Palo Alto Police Department has just gotten underway.  Officer May was killed on Saturday, January 7, 2006 when he responded to a report of a disturbance at the Villa Taqueria located at the intersection of Cooley and University Avenue in Palo Alto, CA.  At the time that Officer May responded to the call, he had been conducting a ride-along with, then 16 year-old Explorer, Marco Marquez.

According to various reports, 38 year-old Officer May chased the main suspect (later identified as 26 year-old defendant Alberto Alvarez), who had tried to flee the scene.  When Alvarez finally turned around, he had a gun in his hand and subsequently shot Officer May, fatally injuring him.  Marquez, who had remained in the police car and was uninjured, was the first person to call and report the shooting.  Officer May had served with the East Palo Alto Police Department for 18 months and had over 10 years of experience as a police officer.

Now 19 years-old, Marquez is being questioned about his knowledge of what he witnessed that fateful day.  This information is crucial to this case as the defendant, Alberto Alvarez, faces the death penalty if the jury convicts him of first degree murder of a police officer.  Recently, however, there has been controversy over information that Marquez had told investigators.

In interviews taken from the night of the shooting, Marquez had informed investigators that he actually saw Alvarez fire the first shot and at one point witnessed Officer May pointing his gun at the defendant.  However, recently, Marquez testified that the first shot rang out as Marquez ducked down in the police car after seeing Alvarez with an object in his hand.  He told the court that he saw Officer May put his hand on his gun, but he never actually saw the 38 year-old officer actually pull his weapon from his holster [source].

Today, Alvarez remains in custody without the possibility of bail. He is the first person to face execution in San Mateo County since Scott Peterson’s 2004 trial for the murder of his pregnant wife, Laci.

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.

Private Investigator Reunites Siblings After 34 Years

September 14, 2009 2 comments

Adolescence  can be an extremely difficult and trying time for anyone. After a family dispute between father and daughter separated Donna Martin from her brother, Max (then 12 years of age), Max never stopped searching for his sister.  Now, almost 34 years later, and with the help of a private investigator, Max and his sister have been reunited.

Help Where You Least Expect It

So, how did Max go about this business of finding his sister?  After approximately 16 years, Max hired a private investigator-two in fact! However, the investigators were not able to produce any findings.  Despite the fact that Max was unaware of his sister’s whereabouts, he never gave up the hope of one day finding her.

And then help came from an unexpected place.

Max’s 15 year-old daughter had befriended another young lady and the two developed a friendship.  As fate would have it, the father of this new friend, Steve Taylor, just happened to be a private investigator. As Taylor and Max started to converse, Taylor made a promise to Max that he would help him find his sister.

Four days later, Max received his first break in over a decade of searching.  Taylor had found an address for a “Donna Martin” in New Jersey.  After digging a little deeper, Taylor found several phone numbers and proceeded to narrow it down until he finally reached Donna by phone.   As soon as Taylor found out the phone number for Donna, he contacted Max with her contact information.  Today, the two siblings are thankful to have each other back in their lives. And it just goes to prove that sometimes, even though  someone may be “out of sight”, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are “out of mind”….[source]

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