n.d. [1st web capture November 1, 2006] Serial Killer Calendar, Jim Jones,
James Warren "Jim" Jones (May 13, 1931 – November 18, 1978) was the American founder of the Peoples Temple group, which became synonymous with group suicide after the November 18, 1978 mass suicide by poison in their isolated agricultural intentional community called Jonestown, located in the country of Guyana. Jones was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head among the 908 corpses there.
Early Life of Jim Jones
Jim Jones was born to James and Lynetta Thurman Jones. Jones graduated from high school at Richmond High School in Richmond, Indiana. He became a preacher in the 1950s. After graduating from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN, Jim sold pet monkeys door-to-door to raise the money to fund his own church that would be named Wings of Deliverance. He later renamed his church the Peoples Temple, located in Indianapolis. He gained respectability when he became an ordained minister in 1964 in the mainstream Christian denomination Disciples of Christ, which was later rescinded . The church was exceptional for its equal treatment of African Americans and many of them became members of the church. He started a struggle for racial equality and social justice, which he dubbed apostolic socialism. Jones authored a booklet, called "The Letter Killeth" pointing out what he felt were the contradictions, absurdities, and atrocities in the Bible, but the booklet also stated that the Bible contained great truths. He claimed to be an incarnation of Jesus, Akhenaten, Buddha, Lenin, and Father Divine and performed supposed miracle healings to attract new members. Members of Jones' church called Jones "Father" and believed that their movement was the solution to the problems of society and many did not distinguish Jones from the movement. The group gradually moved away from mainstream.
George Moscone, the mayor of San Francisco, appointed Reverend Jim Jones to the city's Housing Commission.
Jonestown and mass murder-suicide
In the summer of 1977, Jones and most of the 1,000 members of the Peoples Temple moved to Guyana from San Francisco after an investigation into the church for tax evasion was begun. Jones named the closed settlement Jonestown after himself. His intention was to create an agricultural utopia in the jungle, free from racism and based on quasi-communist principles. Jones told his followers to think of him as the incarnation of Christ and God. His followers were known to perform sex acts on him in front of the entire congregation. While the children watched, they were fed LSD and mushrooms, creating a feverish psychedelic environment.
People who had left the organization prior to its move to Guyana told the authorities of brutal beatings, murders and of a mass suicide plan, but were not believed. In spite of the tax evasion allegations, Jones was still widely respected for setting up a racially mixed church which helped the disadvantaged. Around 70% of the inhabitants of Jonestown were black and impoverished.
The religious scholar Mary McCormick Maaga argued that Jones' authority waned after he moved to the isolated commune, because there he was not needed anymore for recruitment and he could not hide his drug addiction from rank and file members. Consequently, he lost some of his power to inner-circle members, according to McCormick Maaga.
In November 1978, U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan led a fact-finding mission to the Jonestown settlement in Guyana after allegations by relatives in the U.S. of human rights abuses. Ryan's delegation arrived in Jonestown on November 14 and spent three days interviewing residents. They left hurriedly on the morning of Saturday November 18 after an attempt was made on Ryan's life. They took with them roughly twenty People's Temple members who wished to leave. Delegation members later told police that, as they were boarding planes at the airstrip, a truckload of Jones' armed guards arrived and began to shoot at them. When the gunmen left, five people were dead: Representative Ryan, a reporter from NBC, a cameraman from NBC, a newspaper photographer, and one defector from the Peoples Temple. The present-day California State Senator Jackie Speier, a staff member for Rep. Ryan in 1978, Richard Dwyer, the Deputy Chief of Mission from the U.S. Embassy at Georgetown and allegedly an officer of the Central Intelligence Agency, and a producer for NBC News, Bob Flick, survived the attack.
Later that same day, 909 of the remaining inhabitants of Jonestown, 276 of them children, died in what has commonly been labeled a mass suicide, although many who died were murdered. While some followers obeyed Jones' instructions to commit "revolutionary suicide" by drinking cyanide-laced grape flavored Flavor Aid, others died by forced cyanide injection or by shooting. Jones was found dead with a shot in the head, sitting in a deck chair. The autopsy on his body showed levels of the barbiturate pentobarbital that could have been lethal to humans who have not developed physiological tolerance. His drug abuse (including various LSD and marijuana experimentations) was confirmed by his son, Stephan, and Jones' doctor in San Francisco.
Other Information on Jim Jones
Jones was married to Marceline Jones. They had two sons together, one biological and one adopted. Their biological son, Stephan Gandhi Jones, did not take part in the mass suicide because he was away, playing with the Peoples Temple basketball team. Jones' adopted son, Jim Jones Jr., was African American. Jim and Marceline were the first white couple in Indiana to adopt an African American child. Jones claimed to be the biological father of John Victor Stoen, who was the legal son of Grace Stoen and her husband Timothy Stoen. The custody dispute over Stoen had great symbolic value for the Peoples Temple and intensified the conflict with its opponents who consisted of, among others, a group called the "Concerned Relatives".
In MacArthur Park, Los Angeles on December 13, 1973, Jones was arrested and charged with soliciting a man for sex in a movie theater bathroom known for homosexual activity. The man, as it turns out, was an undercover Los Angeles Police Department vice officer. Jones is on record as later telling his followers that he was "the only true heterosexual", but at least one account exists of his sexually abusing a member of his congregation in front of the followers, ostensibly to prove the man's own homosexual tendencies.
One of his sources of inspiration was the controversial cult leader Father Divine. Jones had borrowed the term "revolutionary suicide" from Black Panther leader Huey Newton who had argued the slow suicide of life in the ghetto ought to be replaced by revolutionary struggle that would end only in victory (socialism and self determination) or revolutionary suicide (death).
REVISION TO THE ABOVE BIO
Although we try to get our information from the most respectable sources, sometimes we discover that certain facts are incorrect or suspect. Whenever this happens, we like to offer both sides of the story. We where recently contacted by a relative of Dan Weber (who appears in the above bio). Below is an exact quote from her email to us. We can not guarantee that her information is any more correct than the information above but since none of our staff was actually present during this period, we are forced to accept second hand stories of the crimes.
"The person you refer to, "Dan Webber" is my father. you spelled it wrong, for one, there is only one b. secondly, there is no way on god's green earth my dad was in the cia. i would like to know where this claim comes from. thirdly, my dad had actually little to do with Jim Jones and the People's Temple, what he did, as vice council to Richard Mcoy in the American Embassy, was ensure Debbie Layton, an American citizen, safe passage home. That's what the American Embassy does, look out for American citizens interests and rights in foreign countries. That's all he did. Buy her a ticket and get her on the plane, which she missed the first one, and had to go on the next days' flight. There is no government conspiracy in that act. Really, i would greatly appreciate knowing how something like this could warrant a CIA conspiracy theory. It's totally and completely groundless. that's truly all he did. if he was aware of what was going on with the People's Temple (which he didn't) as your story seems to imply, don't you think a CIA operative would have had the ablilty to alert the government and pull all of those people out of there??? After the whole ordeal, it was determined that Jones had weekly "Death Drills". if the government knew about it, they would have raided the camp. This is also the reason why there were people shot. The member's of People's Temple were so used to the drills, they thought it was just another one. When people started dropping dead, then the remaining members realized to their horror that this was very real, and they wouldn't comply. so the armed guards shot them. That is why there were poisoning and gunshot victims. It would be the right thing to do if you would check your sources and make sure they were accurate for the memory of these victims. And to do a greater service and relay to the public that these people were innocent victims, in search of God, who fell under the psychological coercion of a power-hungry sociopathic mad man, not the government, but a glorified scam artist. to show that these "faith -healers" do not have the power of god, just the power of greed and selfishness. When people are sick, and wondering why such a bad thing would happen to a good person, or want their loved ones to get better, these vultures prey upon their dispair to suit their own needs. that is a message that needs to be sent to people. it may not be as facinating or tabloid worthy, but it's important and people need to know these things, the true story of the Jim Joneses of the world."
-Email from Karen Weber