INTERVIEW — TAPE #8, SIDE #1
Q: Mark Gordon Russell (interviewer)M: Maxine Mc Wethy
Q: Last night in the hotel I checked each microcassette to make sure Michael hadn’t done anything to them. Michael seems to be very nice to me.
M: If he likes somebody, he is.
Q: Even though I wouldn’t mind if he spoke right now but maybe he can’t because Twyla isn’t here. I’ll be curious to see how the photos I took come out. I was clever and had Twyla take the picture of the attic. I wouldn’t be surprised if something shows up in that photo because Twyla was using the camera. Because you never know — her being the focus. So now what were you saying? That you lost your car keys? That’s pretty common.
M: Once Michael hid my car keys when I went up to Twyla and Steve’s place to spend the night. He hid Fae’s purse up there too one time. I got up the next morning and was going to leave but I couldn’t find my keys. Twyla and Steve were trying to find them for me. Eventually Twyla saw this big old flower basket moving and she went over there and said, “Oh, that’s moving.” She turned the basket upside-down and out came my car keys. (laughs) I didn’t think he’d ever give them to me.
Q: So what I’ll do is have my attorney draw up a contract.
Q: Do you want to be one of the people who gets the up-front money or how do you want that to work?
M: Well, if it’s just $500 —
Q: That’s just for the photos for the book.
M: — that won’t hurt me.
Q: What I was going to recommend up-front — let’s see, there were eight people originally so I was planning maybe $250 per person up-front for the first period and then renewable for the same amount; but when it sells 50% of the net, meaning half of what I get after expenses and commissions would go to you, which I think is the ethical way of doing it because if either the writer or the family is making more it looks like somebody’s out to get money —
Q: — and it takes away from the integrity of the story. That’s also what I was talking to Twyla about because even going on “The Other Side” could make you less desirable for the evening shows that have much more respect and a larger audience. Even though I think it would be fun for her to go to L.A. and go to Disneyland and Universal Studios with the kids. Again, for everything you do — you give up something else. There’s a price for everything you do. Call me if you ever need to ask me any questions. I’ll leave you my telephone card number.
M: It would be cheaper, wouldn’t it?
Q: I feel like we’re friends.
M: Oh yeah. I think Brenda and them went fishing today.
Q: That’s what everyone’s talking about. What else was I going to tell you? Remember that those unexplained shows like “Encounters” cover so many of these cases that appearing on them wouldn’t have much impact. These shows even have shown photos with similar phenomena so it’s almost like now they’re looking for more evidence than what you’ve already had.
M: What was I going to do?
Q: Put that away maybe?
M: No. I was going to look for something.
Q: “Encounters.” Pictures.
M: Oh. Yeah. (“OKAY”)
Q: Now this is a terrible photo of me and kids drew all over me but I’m going to show it to you anyway. I’ll show you a picture of Michael. (“YOUR MAMA LOOKS GOOD” “SHUT-UP” “OKAY”)
M: Okay. It’s vague now. But this is him. Right here. See, that’s him. See? I don’t know if there’s a hat but it’s faded out. And there’s his face. And there’s both hands right there with a slingshot.
M: That’s what he broke my windows with.
Q: It’s so faint I don’t think this photo could be used in the book.
M: It was plainer than that but now it’s fading out for some reason.
Q: Too bad. You don’t have the negative for this?
M: No. If I could get in touch with that woman that took that —
Q: The longer you wait the harder it is going to be to get that. What are these two lines?
M: The studios said that was a slingshot. The photo is just fading out.
Q: That’s such a shame.
M: I don’t show very many people the photo because of that.
Q: It’s so soft that you really can’t see anything. (“WHATEVER”)
M: But he was standing right there on the porch when that woman took a picture of me and Twyla.
Q: I can see the outline of him.
M: Yeah. (“THAT’S RIGHT”)
Q: Was there anyone in the house at the time?
M: No. He was standing right there on the porch and me and Twyla were sitting (“PLUS”) on the step when that woman took this picture outside.
Q: The photo is a little bit dirty too which makes it even harder to see.
M: All the kids have handled it. How come it’s fading out like this? (“IT ISN’T THAT”)
Q: Well, photos fade. The negatives don’t fade. (“YOU KNOW”)
M: The woman who took this photo lived up in the city. She might have some negatives.
Q: It would probably be worth your while to try to contact her.
M: Her mother and her sister live in Ada.
Q: Keep this photo. Eventually as the case becomes more well-known —
M: See, he told us that he was a little Indian boy. (“SO WHAT”)
Q: Keep this in a safe place. Go ahead and see if she has the negative. This is probably the best photo but this print isn’t because it’s so washed out now.
M: It’s messed-up now.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: ONLY THE IMAGE OF THE BOY APPEARED FADED.)
Q: They have special machines that can enhance these types of images but this is so faded and dirty I don’t think it would matter. Keep this in the locked box.
M: You once could see him plainly in the photo.
Q: Call right now. Use my — oh, that’s right, you don’t have a phone.
M: I don’t even know her number. She lives on Poinsettia.
Q: Well, you can use my calling card for that if you want.
M: She’s part Indian too. The pictures she took scared her so bad that she wouldn’t come back.
Q: Then, why would she keep the negatives? (“NO”)
M: I don’t know whether she even (“I WOULD”) has any or not.
Q: Go ahead and use my number and call her tomorrow (“NO”) if you can and just say, “Can you please send that to me?” You should keep that.
M: She had another one too. (“YEAH”)
Q: Well, see if she still has them. (“PROBABLY”) It’s not essential because you have so many different things. I bet that was a great photo.
M: Where’s that picture? I’ve got a picture that she took right there of me, her and Brenda.
Q: Some people don’t want to believe in this stuff to begin with, so they have to be pretty clear for people to even take the time to look at them.
M: She believed it because it scared her so bad.
Q: I’m sure. So, well, you’re lucky at least that he doesn’t move tables and things when Twyla’s not here. Right?
M: Um-huh. (“WHAT”)
Q: The one thing that makes this unusual as a poltergeist case is Twyla’s age because usually they involve teenagers. After childbirth they don’t have the same energy.
M: This started when she was eighteen.
Q: It’s a little (“UH-UH”) later than usual.
Q: I’m just saying usually they’re thirteen or fourteen years old. This is just circumstantial evidence. (“WELL SLIGHTLY”) No one knows exactly.
M: That’s a picture of Desireé in the cellar. Somebody came up here one night and said, “Oh, I saw something in there.” They thought that was one of the apparitions of the little kids but it was Desireé. It scared them to death. I don’t know where that picture is.
Q: That’s funny. (“M”) There’s so much going on here that probably even in normal photos if you look long enough you probably can find something that really is scary. Of course, your imagination can go pretty wild too.
M: Sometimes people claim they find something but I never see it until they point it out.
Q: That’s why they have to be pretty convincing. Most people are complete, utter skeptics. That event that happened with my brother is pretty unbelievable because he’s not a believer at all.
M: You ought to bring him down here. (laughs)
Q: After that experience, he’ll probably want to come.
M: Well, bring him. It’ll be fun.
Q: But he’s very handy to have as a brother because he knows producers of news shows like “20/20.”
M: Does he do the same thing you do?
Q: He works in public relations. I work in marketing, writing press kits. And I write screenplays. But writing press kits is more lucrative. This summer I’ve worked on “Braveheart,” “Congo,” “Clueless,” “The Indian in the Cupboard” and “Virtuosity.” It pays very well. I don’t want to do it forever, though. I’ve done a lot of screenplays too. (“HMM”) Have you ever heard of a child’s story called Bob, Son of Battle?
Q: It’s a famous dog story that I adapted into a screenplay. (“GEE BUT I’VE LOST COUNT NOW”) They lost the financing to do it. You know there was one thing I forgot to ask Twyla about. I mentioned to her that she reminded me a little bit of my friend Fiona and she seemed startled but I didn’t have the chance to ask her why.
M: That’s because her grandma Bell’s name was Zona Leona.
Q: Well, Fiona is a strange name. She’s Australian.
M: Twyla thought Zona Leona was a strange name.
Q: It is a very strange name. How did Zona get that name?
M: That was Carlton’s mother. There’s my key to that box. Brenda hid it back here.
Q: (small laugh) Maybe it was Michael.
M: I don’t remember what we were looking for now, do you?
Q: What were you looking for?
M: (laughs) I don’t remember.
Q: Maybe you were going to put this away. I — I don’t — no, there was something else. Oh, the key. Well, yeah. Originally, it was the photos but we found those.
M: I don’t think there’s anything in here anyway. A doctor and one of his friends came out here. He told me he was going to bring me one of these for me to put in it my stuff about Michael and he brought this. There isn’t anything in here. He said he kept things in this box and his wife practically broke the lock trying to find out what he had in it. (laughs) (“THESE ARE GREAT”)
Q: These are great photos. Maybe I can take the original cryptograms and I’ll give you the photocopies.
M: Yeah. (“UM-HUH”) Here’s what some of the kids drew when they came out here.
Q: Little artists.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: ONE OF THE DRAWINGS FEATURED SOMETHING THAT LOOKED LIKE A WEREWOLF.)
Q: Luckily, you haven’t had any werewolf sightings.
M: I hope not. (laughs)
Q: (laughs) It’s amazing that this phenomena can be going on while the family leads otherwise normal lives. Did you ever see one of those little furball things?
M: Yeah. I’ve seen that thing several times.
Q: What is it? Describe it exactly if you can.
M: Well, it just looks round and black and furry.
Q: Can you see eyes?
M: You just get a glimpse of it. And that’s all everybody ever does.
Q: You see them out of the corner of your eyes. You never get a good look at it. How big would you say it was? Like a rat?
M: Bigger than a rat.
Q: It looks round?
Q: So it’s about one foot by one foot?
M: About like that. Yeah.
Q: This may be a parallel to the Isle of Man case where the spirit said he was a mongoose. It’s amazing how they all interconnect. There are just so many similarities.
Q: I wish Michael had shook the bed or done something to my attorney when I called him. He doesn’t believe in this at all. Of all the people I know, he is the biggest unbeliever. He still thinks this is an interesting story and understands why I feel passionately involved with it but he, himself, refuses to believe in them. I don’t blame him.
M: Well, I don’t either.
Q: It’s hard to believe until you experience it.
M: I feel like that since we never believed anything like this. We never even thought about anything like this.
Q: I began to believe it as I did my research. I began seeing similarities in cases where the people couldn’t possibly have known about each other. That’s very convincing. That’s why when I read about what was going on here it didn’t really scare me because I already was a believer. It’s just so interesting how there are all these similarities running through the various cases and how they all link up.
M: We’ve had more fun out of him, though.
Q: Isn’t it, though? It’s fun. It’s like a hobby.
M: We’ve had more fun out of him scaring other people. (laughs)
Q: Somebody was saying people would even wet their pants.
M: Bill and I had to get six new chairs and a new table. This is the third table we’ve had since they’ve been coming out here. They tore my chairs and the table up.
Q: The spirit?
M: No. The people getting out of here.
Q: I see — running away, jumping over chairs. It would be handy to ask you about the personality traits of the various media people who’ve visited you. For example, the host of “The Other Side.” I can’t remember her name.
M: Dana Fleming.
Q: What was her basic response to it? She wanted more evidence?
M: No. She heard him.
Q: How would you sum her up, though? Like in a sentence or so? Did she ask you to do anything memorable? I understand she was just getting over a divorce at the time or something.
M: She just interviewed us outside. They interviewed some Ada people out here too. They didn’t need to have any more proof. They called seventy-five people from L.A. after we sent them the names and they told them what happened out here to them.
Q: This was for the special?
M: That’s why they came out here. It was because they had so many witnesses. And seventy-five isn’t even half the people who’ve come out here.
Q: I’m trying to get some character reference frames because, basically, these people could become composite characters eventually.
M: You mean the ones that came out here?
Q: What you would do is look at what their reaction was to an interesting situation and then take the most interesting ones and include them in a screenplay. That way, you wouldn’t have the host of “The Other Side” in the script — you’d have a funny talk show host who was getting over her divorce. So how did she impress you?
M: I wasn’t around her too much.
Q: Did she have any interesting personality quirks about her?
M: I don’t know how to describe her. I really liked her but I don’t know how to describe her.
Q: I remember I saw this wonderful show on cable TV with Alan Bates. It was about a writer’s experiences and the journalist interviewing him was making advances to him while she was getting drunk. It was hilarious to watch because she was doing all these unprofessional things.
Q: What about the radio deejay who came here one night? Isn’t he known as a very flamboyant local personality?
M: (laughing) The one who got that hair dye thrown at his hair?
M: It was Twyla’s. Michael threw a bottle of it out of the bathroom and it hit him.
Q: Did he have long hair or something? (“KNOCKED IT OFF”)
M: He had black hair.
Q: Was it long or anything?
M: No. The dye just went all over the place and made a big old red spot on his hair.
Q: Personality-wise, was he a believer or a disbeliever?
M: Oh gosh, yeah.
Q: They always become believers.
M: He got scared to death that night because two shoes hit him.
Q: When he first arrived, was he nonchalant at first?
M: All of them are.
Q: I know that one reporter was scared to death. Do many respond that way?
Q: I always try to capture as close to reality as possible. I like to find out what the underlying motivations were. I’ll leave you my extra tape recorder. You and your daughters can record anything they may remember or experience. If you have any ideas or hear Michael say something, you can repeat the words into the tape recorder.
M: He was talking to us one time and he saw me putting a tape into that thing and he said, “DON’T EVEN TRY IT.”
Q: Oh my God.
Q: Every time you tell me something I’m reminded about parallels to other cases where similar things have happened.
M: He didn’t say anything after that. Brenda and I made about three good tapes of him talking and then we couldn’t find them. He told us, “LOOK BACK THERE IN THAT CLOSET.” We went to get them and they were all torn up.
Q: Isn’t that amazing? That’s probably one of the reasons why he didn’t speak while I was around. But I already believe in him so obtaining proof wasn’t my objective. I must say when he spoke to you about how sorry he felt about your ex-husband Carlton my tape recorder was not on.
M: Oh boy. That would’ve been a good one.
Q: I’m sure he knew.
M: That’s why he said it then. He’s smart.
Q: He is very smart and I’m glad. I wouldn’t expect anything less of him. (“SO”) Whatever he is.
M: He used to have me and Twyla take him to Tupelo about every night — and there’s another thing I just now remembered. I was working at this little cafe in Stonewall about eleven miles from here. I was working for the woman—the one who has that ghost in front of her in the photo—and her husband up there in the cafe. And that night he hid my car keys. That was about two years ago. And he didn’t give them to me that night. The next morning, I woke Twyla up and said, “You better tell Michael to give me my car keys. I ‘ve got to go to work.” And he told me, “THEY’RE IN THE GLASS BY THE KITCHEN WINDOW.” I had a foam glass with water in it and a plant sitting over there in that window and he had my car keys down in that water.
Q: Oh God. (laughs) Now, again, what about the time that he asked you to take him to get the files? That was a major event.
M: That took about fifteen minutes.
Q: And what building was that again?
M: The courthouse in Coalgate.
Q: And the courthouse in Coalgate is actually a very small courthouse.
M: Well, it’s a pretty good size.
Q: For a small town it is but I mean in comparison to the one in L.A. which is a forty-story building.
M: I didn’t wonder about it until finding out there were pictures of aliens in there. I don’t know what he was after. He just said he had to go get some papers. He didn’t say what they were. He did that twice.
Q: There are probably some things that have happened to you that you wouldn’t even know were important but I might think they were after studying the other cases.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: TAPE #8, SIDE #1 ENDS HERE AND SIDE #2 WAS ACCIDENTALLY LEFT UNUSED.)