Journal: How did you become involved with MUFON?
Mitchell: Ever since I was a kid I enjoyed the old UFO shows like, “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” Then in high school I read, Interrupted Journey about the Betty and Barney Hill abduction and that piqued my interest.
Journal: Has being an investigator changed your opinion on UFOs?
Mitchell: Absolutely. It’s kind of like watching TV where you get two minutes of news on a court case compared to sitting on the actual jury. You don’t really get the whole picture with the two minute blips they give you, but it’s a totally different slant on it when you are sitting there listening to all the detailed evidence. Certainly it’s changed my views about the UFO phenomenon; some for the good, some for the bad, but certainly it’s an eye opener.
Mitchell: Perseverance certainly is one, and discernment.
Journal: Any advice for a new investigator?
Mitchell: You need to learn to listen. Listen to what they don’t say rather than what they do say sometimes. Also, let the witness do most of the talking. You’d be surprised how some of the most important info comes not from what is on their report but from what they talk about during the investigation.
Journal: What do you consider your best case?
Mitchell: I think the work we did here in Tennessee on the Thomas Reed case. It was a multi-generational case. I was not the actual investigator but I assigned a new investigator who was a retired Miami Dade County detective. I thought he would be the best person and as it turns out he was perfect and did a wonderful job. His name is Steve White and I really just kind of supervised him a little bit but was in touch with him during the case. I did not do the investigative work on that, I want you to make that clear.
Journal: OK, I will.
Mitchell: We went back three generations and got statements and all kinds of info from witnesses and family and ex-wives. Apart from the Travis Walton case, which I think is definitely the real deal as for as an abduction case, the Thomas Reed case has to be the second best as to what I would consider the real deal.
Journal: You mentioned Travis Walton being the “real deal.” If you had to go to court, what’s the best evidence you could present to the jury?
Mitchell: Well, the eye witness accounts. You’ve got six or seven men that were on that crew that were all witnesses and none of them have backed off of their story and they’ve all passed a polygraph. It’s probably the best documented abduction case that’s ever been brought forward, in my opinion.
Journal: Yeah, if it were a hoax you’d think that one of those guys would have cracked by now.
Mitchell: Well, I've been in contact with Steve Pierce for almost a year and talked to him many times and he’s still adamant about his story.
Journal: What about TV, you have a favorite?
Mitchell: I’m pretty much a documentary kind of guy. One of my favorites is “UFO’s over Earth,” the MUFON documentary with James Carrion and Richard Lang.
Journal: Yeah, I agree. And Lang was cool.
Journal: If you could go back in time and be the lead investigator in any case in UFO history, which would it be?
Mitchell: Roswell. That’s the Rosetta stone as far as I’m concerned. I mean that’s what really opened it up. Before that it was like, a bunch of these people were really way out there, people taking rides to Jupiter and all that. Roswell brought ufology to legitimacy. Multiple witnesses, all credible.
Journal: Is there anyone in MUFON that you’ve never met that you would like to meet?
Mitchell: Stanton Friedman’s kind of my hero. I always think, “What would Stan do?”
Journal: LOL .
Mitchell: He’s kind of the godfather of ufology in my opinion. And Chuck Reever was a mentor of mine. He was a former Director of Investigations and I talked to him on the phone many times but I never met him. He was a great guy and he deserves a lot of recognition which he’ll probably never get. He’s in his 70’s now and did a wonderful job with MUFON.
Journal: Thanks for talking with me, Max. We’ll be waiting for your designer “WWSD” (What Would Stanton Do?) bracelets and T-shirts to go on sale in the MUFON Store.
This story originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of the MUFON Journal.