Heene Kids Were Often Put in Danger, Says Business Partner

A former colleague of Richard Heene says she quit over his parenting style.

ByABC News
October 15, 2009, 2:39 PM

Oct. 15, 2009 — -- Richard Heene, the father of a missing 6-year-old who was found hiding at his Colorado home today after authorities believed he'd ascended in an untethered balloon, often put his children in danger, a former business partner said.

The story had a happy ending, but child safety experts said the incident underscored the vigilance parents must exercise to keep children safe and avoid tragedy.

Heene, a "storm chaser," loved science but would often put his children at risk, said the father's friend and former research partner, Barbara Slusser.

Slusser worked with Scott Stevens and Heene -- the father of Falcon Heene, 6, and two older boys, Bradford and Ryo -- at the Science Detective Research Group in Fort Collins, Colo.

"He loves those kids dearly, but part of the reason my co-host Scott and I split from him is because we felt Heene put his kids in the line of fire a bit too much," Slusser said.

"The last straw for us was when Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Ike were heading toward the Texas coastline and Heene wanted to go back there and take the kids," she said.

Heene's neighbor, Tina Sanchez, told ABC News that Falcon is "a great kid, very adventurous, and has no fear factor. For him to climb into this balloon would not be out of character. He has a high tolerance for cold, often running around without a jacket."

Slusser, Heene's ex-business partner, said she split from Heene shortly after the summer of 2008.

"Those kids went everywhere with us," she said. "We took those kids tornado chasing.