The legal fate of Richard Heene will remain up in the air longer than the runaway balloon that he frantically claimed last week had carried off his son in what police now say was an elaborate hoax.
Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden said over the weekend he was preparing to bring charges against Heene and his wife, Mayumi, but Larimer County put out a statement to waiting reporters today suggesting they go home.
"We know many of you are remaining in the area in anticipation of the arrest of the Heenes. In deference to your schedules, we want you to know that we do not anticipate completing our reports and presenting this case filing to the district attorney until next week."
Alderden originally said his investigators had no reason to believe the family was lying but shifted 180 degrees Sunday and called the incident both a hoax and a publicity stunt to gin up buzz for a reality show the family hoped to produce.
"We have evidence at this point to indicate that this was a publicity stunt, done with the hope of marketing themselves for a reality show at some point in the future," he said. "On the bizarre meter, this rates a 10."
Alderden added that police believed the family may have conspired with a media outlet to launch the balloon.
A lawyer for the couple, who met in acting school and twice appeared on the ABC reality show "Wife Swap," said today that while his clients are preparing for arrest, he's ready to take on the sheriff's office.
"If they step over any lines, it is my job to slap them down," Heene family attorney David Lane told "Good Morning America" today. "I have no idea what so-called evidence they have."
Lane said he's hoping authorities will abide by an agreement to allow the Heenes to turn themselves in rather than be led away in handcuffs in front of their three sons.
Lane said he had not been told by law enforcement officials whether the Heenes had passed or failed a polygraph test administered by the sheriff's office over the weekend.
"If that's what they're relying on, they're in trouble," he said, noting that polygraph results are not admissible in court.
Lane said he'd also like to examine the timeline of phone calls from Richard and Mayumi Heene after police claimed they called the Federal Aviation Administration, then a local television station and then 911 when they told authorities they thought son Falcon, 6, was inside the homemade balloon.
It was Falcon -- the boy at the center of the saga -- who tipped off authorities that the family had planned the entire incident when he told Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "Larry King Live" Thursday that "we did it for the show."
When questioned about his statements, Falcon vomited during two interviews the next morning on "Good Morning America" and the "Today" show.
Alderden said the couple may have executed the hoax with the aid of a media outlet.
"We certainly know that there's a conspiracy between the husband and wife, you've probably seen some of the e-mails and some of the things on the Internet suggesting that there may be other conspirators," Alderden said.
Alderden said police had obtained documents that suggested that a media outlet agreed to pay money to the Heenes with regard to the balloon incident.
Alderden did not name the show but said it blurs "the line between entertainment and news."
"Let's call it (my statement) short of speculation that a media outlet was in on the hoax, but let's not discount the possibility," he said.