"He wasn't very nice to me," says Sheree Silver, "but I don't think he would be physically abusive"

By Vickie Bane
Updated October 19, 2009 06:05 PM

When Sheree Silver temporarily lived with Balloon Boy Falcon Heene and his dad Richard in their Fort Collins, Colo., home during the filming of an episode of TV’s Wife Swap last November, she observed that Richard “had the mind of a mad scientist” – with a prickly personality and a short fuse to match.

But Silver, a psychic from Saint Augustine, Fla., says when she predicted in the show’s 100th episode that one of Richard’s science experiments would “blow up” in his face, she never dreamed he would involve Falcon in an elaborate alleged hoax involving the flight of a helium-filled balloon seen by TV viewers around the globe.

Nor could she have foreseen the troubles that would follow. The Larimer County, Colo., sheriff now says Richard Heene could face felony charges, including contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Propensity to Yell

While appearing with him on the reality show, Silver says Richard’s kids were aware of his propensity for yelling. Once, she recalls, after Richard screamed at her, she says Bradford, the 11-year-old, came up to her and said, “‘My Dad can really yell, can’t he?'”

And Silver says he had high expectations of Mayumi. “He kept saying, ‘Mayumi does it, you should do it,'” recalls Silver, who says she tried making him his “space eggs” – yolks on top of the egg white – just like Mayumi. When Silver cut into the yolk with her knife and fork, Richard yelled, “Oh my God. You just killed the mother ship.”

“He wasn’t very nice to me,” says Silver, noting that he threw milk on her during the show. “But … I don’t think he would be physically abusive.”

(After revealing that authorities visited the Heene home last February to investigate a possible domestic violence incident, but no charges were filed, Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden added that his department tried to persuade Mayumi Heene to move to a safehouse last weekend. She declined to go.)

Thrill Seeker

As for the kind of father he was, Silver says Richard was good at “teaching [his kids] about science,” although she chastised him for taking them along when he chased tornadoes to experience the dangerous storms up close.

“I said, ‘You go risk your life, but you don’t have to bring your children into that,”‘ she says. Richard answered, “Yeah, but they won’t get to witness everything.”

Most of all, Silver says Heene’s recent predicament makes her feel “very, very sad.”