Alumni Updates

A But for Investigations


For Michael McPheters, 30 years as an FBI agent were not enough to exhaust an interest in investigation.

For Michael McPheters, 30 years as an FBI agent were not enough to exhaust an interest in investigation.

Like many children, S. Michael McPheters (BA ’68) dreamed of growing up and becoming something exciting like a fireman, a police officer, or a cowboy. He got his wish after returning home from a mission in Uruguay and learning that several of his fellow returned missionaries were using their language skills to secure work with the FBI.

McPheters followed suit, and, after graduating from BYU with a major in Spanish and a minor in French, he joined the bureau. His first assignment was locating and apprehending military deserters during the Vietnam conflict. “The Pentagon would advise us of individuals who had deserted and issue warrants for their arrest. My job was to carry out the order,” McPheters says.

It was the beginning of a 30-year career that included investigating organized crime, car-theft rings, narcotics, child abuse, homicide, white-collar crime, timber theft, and more. Over the years he was honored with 22 letters of commendation from FBI directors, and at various times he led the Salt Lake City, Portland, Ore., and Miami divisions in convictions.


As an FBI agent and a member of the SWAT team, it was not uncommon for McPheters to be in danger. “There were instances where I would be the first one to break down the door of a drug house,” McPheters explains. “There was always potential for high risk.”


The risk was something his wife, Judy, thought about often.“When Mike participated in shootouts, I really had to put my trust in the Lord,” she says. “It was during these engagements that I would contemplate if I had sellable skills to raise my children. He would say to me, ‘Everything is under control.’”


After his retirement in 1998, McPheters became a part-time instructor at Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake, Wash., and an interpreter for Grant County Superior Court.


Then in 2000, he and his wife started Basin Investigations in Moses Lake, Wash. The firm conducts criminal investigations, locates missing persons, and provides an array of other investigative services.

It should come as no surprise that McPheters would get the investigative bug again. “This is where my heart is,” he says.