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Balloon family once lived in Burbank

October 21, 2009|By Veronica Rocha

BURBANK — The family of a Colorado boy mistakenly believed to be trapped in a 38-inch Mylar balloon last week didn’t make much of an impression during their time in a rental home here.

Several neighbors near the Heene family’s former Burbank address said they didn’t know the family, who lived in west Burbank from June 2006 to June 2007.

Afterward, the family moved to Colorado.

But Heene’s landlord, Carrie Cavalier, said things weren’t as wholesome as they seemed.

“You never know how people are,” she said. “[Richard Heene] appeared to be who he was, but when push came to shove he wasn’t who he was.”


Richard and Mayumi Heene are being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and Larimer County sheriff’s officials who accused the couple of releasing a large experimental balloon as a publicity stunt.

The wayward balloon, which at the time the couple said they feared was carrying their 6-year-old son, Falcon, transfixed people nationwide.

Before moving to Colorado, Richard Heene pursued acting, his former landlord said.

Cavalier, a photographer, took photos of him so he could use them on auditions.

She worked with Richard Heene, who at the time was working as a construction contractor, she said.

“He seemed to be nice,” Cavalier said.

Richard Heene also asked her to invest in his storm-chasing endeavors, but Cavalier said she declined.

But she did allow Richard Heene and his family to move into her rental property in June 2006 after he signed a contract with her agreeing to complete some construction work on the home.

“They were in a one-bedroom apartment with the kids, and he wanted them to be in a house,” Cavalier said. “So I guess that was my first mistake. I guess you don’t mix that kind of business.”

The rent was often late, and the couple never paid the security deposit, she said.

The Heenes failed to do upkeep on the home, so Cavalier said she went to the home to give the couple an eviction notice.

“He was completely . . . it was just awful,” she said.

He reportedly blocked Cavalier from entering the home and yelled profanities at her while Mayumi Heene filmed the confrontation with a video camera, she said.

“He was just crazy,” Cavalier said.

When Cavalier returned to the home, she said they had moved out without telling her.

They owe Cavalier about $6,000 to cover damage to the home, she said.

“He took advantage of me, insulted me and made me feel uncomfortable,” Cavalier said.

The Los Angeles city attorney’s office charged Richard Heene in 1997 with vandalism, disturbing the peace and vehicle tampering, to which he pleaded no contest.

He was eventually sentenced to two years’ probation after serving 30 days in jail and ordered to pay restitution, said Frank Mateljan, spokesman for the city attorney.

No further details on the case were available, Mateljan said.

Burbank police never arrested Richard Heene while he was living in the city, Sgt. Robert Quesada said.

A neighbor, who declined to be identified, met the family a couple of times, and her grandchildren talked to the Heene children through her backyard fence, she said.

The couple and their children, the neighbor said, were nice and kept to themselves.

Mayumi Heene was quiet and always waved to her, the neighbor said.

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