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FT. COLLINS, Colo. (CAP) - Authorities conducting a follow-up search of "balloon boy" father Richard Heene's Colorado home have turned up missing aviatrix Amelia Earhart living in a box in his attic, where she'd apparently been since her legendary disappearance. Earhart, well over 100 years old, was none the worse for wear, according to authorities.
"She said she'd been in tighter spots than that," said Sheriff Jim Alderden. "She's a tough old bird." Alderden said his men hadn't thought to look in Heene's attic for Earhart, because they assumed she had crashed into the Pacific Ocean in 1937.
The discovery has led many to believe that Earhart's disappearance was an elaborate, attention-grabbing hoax planned by Heene, who caused an uproar last week when he erroneously reported that his son Falcon had been carried away by an experimental balloon he had tethered in his backyard.
"That stupid jerk - I was worried sick about that woman!" said Art Federburg, 81, of Hackensack, N.J., upon hearing about Earhart. "There's 72 years I'm never gonna get back."
Heene, however, denied faking Earhart's disappearance, arguing that it occurred decades before he was born, and claiming not to know how Earhart got in his attic or how she survived there all these years. "Although I probably should have been suspicious when all our GoGurts started disappearing," he said.
Heene then said all further questions should be written on Post-It Notes and affixed to a shoe tree he had placed on his front porch.
The latest controversy comes in the wake of the announcement Sunday that Richard Heene and his wife, Mayumi, would face criminal charges over the balloon incident.
According to Sheriff Alderden, investigators became suspicious when a review of 911 records showed that this was the fourth time the Heenes had reported an emergency situation involving one of their sons, who in the past had been reported trapped in a well, stuck in the bottom of a coal mine following a shaft collapse and locked inside an experimental submersible 16,000 feet beneath the ocean's surface. In each case, the boy in question was found in a box in their attic.
"But not the same box Ms. Earhart was in," clarified Alderden. "We probably would have found her sooner if that was the case."
Phone records show that in each of those cases, the Heenes called both CNN's Larry King and Survivor producer Mark Burnett prior to calling 911, said Alderden. None of those incidents achieved national notice, however, because, according to MIT media analyst Ellen Hulce, "they didn't have Twitter then."