Journal: You stated that in 1980 and again in 1995 that you have had missing time events, which led to your interest in Ufology. Are you able to talk about that at this time?
Phil: Last fall I spoke about what happened for the first time in public, it was not an easy decision, along with having a reporter there from the local newspaper to cover the presentation. It was not an easy thing to do, but I chose to share what I experienced in both an attempt to better understand it and possibly help those who also experienced something they didn’t understand. These incidents occurred some time ago, and with me working in several public service positions I really couldn’t speak of it without having to answer questions I didn’t want to answer while holding these positions. So for over 30 years I have kept it to myself. Speaking of it recently lifted a weight to some extent, but there are still a lot of answers I am searching for. In joining MUFON, I have hopes of finding those answers.
Phil: I can’t say that I have had any closure; what I can say is that speaking with those with similar experiences and those who have not had any experiences but have spent many years investigating similar events has gave me some relief mentally. Knowing there is a group of investigators studying the phenomena and now being a part of that process myself, gives me hope that someday we will figure out what it all means and most importantly why it is happening. I have gained a better understanding of how often a missing time event occurs, but I can’t say that I have a clear theory or perception. Both of my missing time events created a situation that brought me to MUFON. It seems as each event occurred, it caused me to have large memory loss gaps, so only remembering certain facts when each event occurred has limited me on a theory that I am pleased with so far.
Journal: As Chief Investigator, you have the opportunity to work with new Field Investigators coming into MUFON; do you have any advice for them?
Phil: Yes, it is important to remember not to become part of the story, and regardless of what they might believe in, a Field Investigator is to gather the information, do an investigation to the extent needed to complete the case and then come up with a decision for a disposition to the case. Also, an important guideline to use in any investigation is when you enter a scene you take something in and when you leave you take something out, including those reports where the interview is done by telephone. Also keep in mind to let the witness tell their story and not to influence the event as to what the witness actually recalls.
Journal: Interest in MUFON seems to have greatly increased in recent years. How has it impacted cases in Indiana?
Phil: Media attention will increase reports to MUFON. The “Hanger 1” T.V. show generated an increase in reports, although I don’t think there were more sightings during the time the show was aired. I think the public was simply better aware of where to report a UFO after viewing “Hanger 1.” Even when re-runs aired there was an increase in reports. Indiana has a great, dedicated group of investigators with a good knowledge base, which was seen during these increased reports in Indiana. With the increased interest in MUFON, last year I worked with Robert Powell in an attempt to get MUFON’s contact information to all of the city, county law enforcement agencies’ communication centers nationwide. Having contacted the police chief and sheriffs’ organizations, we sent a letter out with the goal of this contact information being filtered down though each state representative; as well as each communication center which would give these communication centers an answer to give a caller of whom to contact rather than no answer at all, which was common place.
Journal: What effect do you think media attention has been on the field of Ufology?
Phil: Media attention is key. From what I can tell there has been a decline this year in the amount of TV shows, reruns, etc. associated with Ufology. This is where each state and national MUFON will need to do a media push to keep the public awareness of MUFON as an organization in the public’s vocabulary. Media plays a very active role in Ufology. With “Hanger 1,” “X-Files” and other documentaries being produced, it creates a wave of awareness of Ufology with MUFON being the place to go to report a UFO. But in return any lack of coverage by the media will play a role also, and this will be seen across the board in a short period of time.
Journal: How does investigating UFOs in the state of Indiana differ from other parts of the country, if any?
Phil: I don’t think there’s a big difference from other states. We get our fair share of reports, along with some very interesting possible abduction cases. I do think we get some historic cases, some with close encounters that we pay very close attention to, but I can’t say we differ from other states.
Journal: You have 25 years working in public service, eight years in the police department. Do you feel this has contributed to your work for MUFON?
Phil: Without a doubt having worked with the public has prepared me for this type of investigative work. I will admit there is a difficulty that comes with having worked in public service, where most of that type of work is fact-based, where a lot of the cases we investigate for MUFON are based on the credibility of the witness, and researching the possible answers for what the witness observed or experienced. So far I’ve found that a witness at times needs to just speak to someone who understands, if only partially, what they have experienced. This helps them more than we know. A good investigator will communicate with the witness in a way that makes a secure environment for the witness to be able to share something that they don’t understand. Oftentimes they will share more than what they intended to at the beginning of the investigation.
Journal: You mention a couple of exciting cases you have worked on and you’ve investigated a good number of cases in the year you have been with MUFON. What was your worst case and why? Best?
Phil: My worst case was one I really wanted to investigate, but at the last minute the witness changed their mind and I had to close the case without doing an investigation. This report was about a 20-mile drive away. The witness had stated that since the 1950s a large part of the family had witnessed a UFO land in the large wooded area the family owned. Most of the relatives knew this and had seen it, but chose to ignore it; with the witness stating they thought it was best just to leave it alone. Someday I hope the witness or a family member comes forward and we (MUFON) get another chance to take a close look at what has been occurring on their property for many years. My best case is a case Robert Powell, MUFON’s Director of Research, and I have been working on for many months. An Indiana witness, along with two friends, witnessed a large, silent UFO come within 400 feet of their location in Canada, with the primary witness being a scientist who is a Department of Defense contractor. Along with being a very credible witness, his ability to understand what they were observing scientifically has contributed a wealth of information we normally might not get, not to mention the amount of knowledge I have been able to obtain from working on this case. (Ref # MUFON Case 74282)
Journal: You were interviewed by FOX 59 T.V. for a short story during the “X-Files” mini- series this year. That sounds exciting. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Phil: FOX 59 Indy wanted to speak with someone from Indiana MUFON in conjunction with the “X-Files” mini-series and I was volunteered for the job. After spending three hours with the reporter and covering different aspects of Ufology and MUFON, he then wanted to know about my missing time events as he had read the newspaper coverage from last fall and made it part of the six-minute coverage which they were promoting for the “X-Files” and ran short teaser clips for a week before the series started. About once an hour there was some form of short clip airing on FOX 59. The reporter seemed very interested in what he could learn about Indiana Ufology and overall did a great job with the final copy. This was a six-minute segment that aired the same night as the “X-Files” premiere. Having a news channel give this much coverage for a good week really brought awareness to MUFON as an organization, especially here in Indiana.
Journal: In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about discloser; and transparency in the UFO phenomenon. In your opinion, are we any closer to it than we were in the past?
Phil: That’s a tough question. As much as I would like to see those that can tell us the truth do so, I don’t think it will happen without something occurring where it creates a situation where they have no choice. I really think if there is any chance of the truth coming out it’s going to be something an organization like MUFON in order for the information to be handled properly and released in a manner that cannot be disputed or ignored any longer. This is why I believe most investigators dedicate their time and resources and strive for that SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH. I believe we are close….very close.
Journal: Thank you once again, Mr. Leech, for sitting down with us for the MUFON One-on-One. It is much appreciated.
Phil: Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you. Keep up the good work; we all look forward to the MUFON UFO Journal each month.
To suggest someone from within MUFON as the next One-On-One guest – please get in touch with Marie Cisneros at firstname.lastname@example.org.