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On March 30, 2009, Matthew Reed had what he describes as an up-close extraterrestrial encounter outside of Brownsburg, Indiana. The story made him and his brother, Thomas, celebrities in the strange world of UFOlogy and exposed a decades-old family drama. But as Thom seeks out the media spotlight, and Matt shies away from it, each has arrived at the same truth: It isn't easy to believe.
When Matthew Reed came to, he was climbing into the driver's seat of his Chevy Blazer. Blood painted the steering wheel in small red dots. He realized that his nose was bleeding, and his shoes were caked with mud. The Blazer sat in the grass, on the shoulder of a country road. From what he could tell, his SUV had veered off of the asphalt and then rolled to a stop at the edge of a field. It wasn’t running. In the distance, he could see the tops of trees, a black silhouette against the gray night sky, and beyond that, the twinkling porch lights of encroaching subdivisions. He turned the key, still in the ignition, and the engine groaned to a start. The dials on the instrument panel flicked wildly from left to right.
The date was March 30, 2009, and Matt had been driving through the suburbs west of Indianapolis to his home in Brownsburg. He had picked up a friend earlier in the evening, and the two had gone to see a movie in nearby Avon—The Watchmen, he thinks. They were both single, and Matt’s mother was living with him after his divorce. Neither man drank. Catching movies together got them out of the house.
The last Matt remembered, he had just dropped off the friend after leaving the movie, a little after 10:30. As he drove through the darkness, an orange ball of light appeared over the road ahead, shot off to the south, and dipped behind a house. Then he was climbing back into a parked vehicle with a bloody nose, muddy shoes, and a strange sensation of time unaccounted for. He looked down at his watch. The hands were frozen near half-past 10. But the LED numerals in a little window on the watch’s face showed that it was after midnight—an hour and 32 minutes later.
Matt pulled back onto the road, floored it through a stop sign, and sped the remaining two miles to his house. He found his mother in a chair in her room, watching television. He sat down on the edge of the bed. He seemed confused, frightened.
“Mom,” he said, “I think it’s starting again.”
What “it” means is difficult for Matt Reed to explain. But this much he believes: After seeing the ball of light through his windshield, and before waking up alongside a country road, he was abducted by extraterrestrials. And as implausible as that might sound, it wasn’t the first time: He maintains that 40 years earlier, when he was a young boy living in Massachusetts, aliens abducted him and his older brother, Thomas, on three separate occasions—episodes that rocked his family and left the boys traumatized for the rest of their lives.
Prior to 2009, Matt had spent most of the past four decades trying to put those bizarre childhood memories behind him. He moved to Central Indiana in 1996 and got a job with an auto-racing team. Made good money. Married and had two sons. Built a house. Led a “normal” middle-class existence. He rarely, if ever, spoke of what had happened in his youth. Talking to his family about the things he’d seen was difficult. If he confided in the newcomers in his life, they might think he was nuts.
Now, he feared he might be yanked from his humdrum life, without warning, at any moment. Would it happen again? When? He could never know.
Matt’s mother urged him to call his brother, who lived in Knoxville, Tennessee. Over the years, Thom Reed’s desire to discuss what he and Matt experienced as children went mostly unsatisfied, and the siblings were often estranged for long periods. But now Thom was just about the only person Matt could talk to. And Thom, in turn, wanted to hear every detail of the Brownsburg incident: He suspected that it might offer important new clues in a long, strange mystery—a family saga that wound its way around the death of his stepfather and through the halls of the United Nations.
At Thom’s insistence, Matt reported the incident on the website of the Mu-tual UFO Network (MUFON), a national organization “dedicated to the scientific study of UFOs for the benefit of humanity.” MUFON volunteers catalog and, in some cases, investigate alleged sightings and encounters. “I have tried to look at this logically and the only conclusion I can come up with is something happened, that had altered time,” Matt wrote in his account. “Beyond that I have no logical explanation. In short, it was like being put to sleep for surgery. One minute you’re looking up at the lights and doctors, and the next you are in recovery. The difference was, I [wasn’t] sleepy, or groggy … I know this sounds crazy! It does to me right now, but I just can’t explain what happened.”
As word of Matt’s 2009 experience circulated, he and Thom became causes celebre in the UFO community. Last year, Discovery’s Destination America channel ran a segment about the brothers in its Alien Mysteries series, and another piece shot on location in Brownsburg aired in the Science Channel’s new Uncovering Aliens series earlier this winter. Now, the so-called Reed Family Abductions are often mentioned in the same breath as some of the 20th century’s most famous reported extraterrestrial encounters.
But if Matt’s Brownsburg ordeal fueled widespread interest in the Reed Family case, it was Thom, some 400 miles away at the time, who soaked up much of the spotlight. He rubs elbows with some of the most prominent figures in UFOlogy and is a regular attraction on the conference circuit; his speaking appearance at last year’s Roswell UFO Festival in New Mexico drew a standing-room-only crowd. In January, he was featured on George Noory’s Coast to Coast AM, a nationally syndicated, paranormal-focused radio talk show that reaches close to three million listeners every week.
Ultimately, Thom Reed is on a quest for credibility. He wants the world to know what he and his brother have endured, and he wants you to believe them. Matt Reed has retreated back into his quiet life. He says he doesn’t care whether you believe him.
Chances are, you don’t. Then again, the odds are nearly as good that you do. According to a recent Huffington Post/YouGov poll, 48 percent of U.S. adults believe “people have witnessed UFOs that have an extraterrestrial origin.”
But outside the shelter of an anonymous poll, would as many admit to believing? Probably not. And that reluctance lies at the center of lifelong difficulties for both of the Reed brothers, taught from the time they were kids that keeping their secret under wraps would protect the family from scrutiny and ridicule. But when publicity surrounding the Brownsburg incident laid bare their fantastical memories for millions of strangers to see, each reacted in profoundly different ways. Thom has found comfort and support in a community of fellow believers. Matt, despite agreeing—reluctantly—to join his brother in front of the camera, really just wants to return to anonymity and whatever semblance of “normalcy” the exceptional circumstances of his life will allow. But for all their differences, each has arrived at the same truth: It isn’t easy to believe.
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