Index of /Jonestown
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16.Chap.txt 24-Mar-2009 17:03 21K
Acknowledgement.txt 24-Mar-2009 17:03 15K
Bibliography.txt 24-Mar-2009 17:03 14K
Epilogue.txt 24-Mar-2009 17:03 1.7K
Index.txt 24-Mar-2009 17:03 23K
Table Of Contents.txt 24-Mar-2009 17:03 1.4K
III FROM THE CRADLE TO THE COMPANY
Lynetta Putnam was born on April 16, 1902 in a small settlement on the Wabash River in Southwestern Indiana though this cannot be confirmed as all records of her birth have been lost. Little is known of Lynetta's early life. Reports are vague and sometimes contradictory but it is known that she was a breed apart from others of her generation. As her contemporaries enjoyed the frivolity of the Roaring Twenties Lyetta pursued a college degree with a headstrong aggression that was her predominant trait. She attended Jonesboro Agricultural College in Arkansas, followed by two years at Lockyear Business college. Though she was better educated than most men of her time, Lynetta abandoned plans for a career in business for a short-lived stay in the field of anthropology. Not content to be an "armchair anthropologist" and determined to prove she was as capable as any male counterpart, she aspired to study primitive Black African tribes. She worked hard and her dream came true when, still in her mid-twenties, she traveled to a tiny African village. Had she pursued this career, Lynetta may have reached the prominence of Margaret Mead or one of her other, more successful, colleagues; but Lynetta had yet another calling. As she lay sleeping in an African hut, a recurring dream beckoned her to return to the United States. In the dream, her deceased mother advised her to marry as she was destined to bear a son; a messiah who would right the wrongs of the world. Perhaps the dream was only a manifestation of some deep fear that she was growing too old to bear children but, regardless, Lynetta left Africa and returned to Indiana to marry a most unlikely mate, James Thurmond Jones, a semi-invalid, sixteen years her senior. He was forty-three, she was twenty-seven.
James T. Jones, a resident of the east Indiana hamlet of Crete, came from a family of Quakers. While serving in France during World War I, he was a casualty of chemical warfare. Mustard gas had scarred his lungs for life. He worked, when he was able, on farm, road and railroad crews but he spent most of his time alone in his house or at the local Veteran's Administration Hospital as even the slightest exertion would leave him breathless. By most accounts, he was an uneducated, ill-mannered, bad tempered loner and a known member of the Ku Klux Klan. His Position in the KKK may have been of some significance as the organization's national headquarters was only seventy miles away in Indianapolis.
So the aggressive, well-educated anthropologist gave up her work in Africa to marry and help support a semi-invalid pensioner sixteen years her senior, whose only interest in society was his involvement in the racist Ku Klux Klan. It would appear that the marriage was a terrible mismatch. Actually, James and Lynetta shared only two things in common; their interest in the Black race and their only son, born May 13, 1931, James Warren Jones. It would seem that the child's destiny was set at birth.
Crete, Indiana was no more than six dilapidated farmhouses surrounding a grain elevator owned by Lynetta's foster grandfather and surrogate father, Lynetta's Lewis Parker. The newlyweds farmed a small plot of land that was probably a gift from Parker whom Lynetta described as being "generous to a fault." Unfortunately, the produce they grew and James' disabled veteran's pension were not sufficient to support the family. It was the height of the Depression, Parker lost his extensive grain holdings and could no longer help support his granddaughter. Lynetta was forced to get job a job but the nearest employment opportunities were five miles west in the small town of Lynn. James' father was also in Lynn as was the nearest school system; a consideration as "Little Jim" approached school age. James sold the land and the Joneses moved to Lynn, where the local townspeople met a not-so-typical family. No one in Lynn nor in the remaining residents of Crete would remember pregnancy or the event that was Lynetta's later described as the birth of the anti-Christ.
In Lynn, Big Jim spent most of his days in the pool hall or at home, listening to the Cincinnati Reds game on the radio or just sleeping. His nights were a mixture of KKK business and his duties as "Night Marshall"; a title that, along with a gun, had been bestowed upon him by the town fathers. Almost everyone avoided Big Jim. Lynetta was never accepted by the local women. She was the breadwinner in her family, not the bread baker. She was too aggressive, too rough, nearly masculine in her dress and manner. She enjoyed taunting the neighbor wives by rolling her own cigarettes and defiantly puffing as she passed the appalled spectators. Above all, she was known for her foul disposition and abusive language. Lynetta could swear better than any man in town. Little Jim was different too. His head of thick blue-black hair stood out in a community populated by blond Germans, most of whom worked in the town's predominant industry: casket making. There was talk that Lynetta was part American Indian or that the child's true father was a Black man. One surviving account contends that Lynetta was married, not at age twenty-seven, but age twenty nine. She turned twenty-nine one month before delivering Little Jim. Though just small town gossip, the accusations might have been serious in Lynn where it was the unwritten law that Blacks, Indians and Catholics were not welcomed. To this day, that part of the country is still extremely racist. A common sight along the highway are billboards proclaiming the righteousness of the Ku Klux Klan and the popular slogan, "Nigger don't let the sun set on you here." When the sun did set, it was the night marshall's job to enforce the unwritten law. Big Jim did his duty and Little Jim was twelve years old before he even saw a Black Person.
Little Jim completed his first eleven years of education at the Washington Township School where his teachers remember him as a bright but devilish organizer with a foul mouth, no doubt inherited from his mother. Lynetta's example was not all bad. She had taught little Jim not only how to read but to read. By the third grade he was signing out books from the library that were intended for high school students. He was rarely seen without a book in his hand and it was not just for show. Even in grammar school, it was said that he was more knowledgeable than some of his teachers. Medicine, psychology and Nazi Germany were his favorite subjects. Though his IQ score was well above average at 120, Jim's grades were not outstanding. School work bored him, while the world he discovered in books urged him on to bigger things. Even at this early age, he was more of an adult than a child.
Lynetta had worked in a variety of odd jobs before settling on a position in an auto aircraft engine assembly plant twenty miles south in Richmond. Since she was gone for most of the day and Big Jim was absolutely no help, Little Jim was sent to a neighbor woman who babysat the child after school. It has been said that Jim was raised as a Methodist but neither Lynetta nor Big Jim attended any church. It was the neighbor woman, Mrs. Myrtle Kennedy, who instilled a fiery religious belief in the boy or at least that is what Jim would later say about his "second mother." Actually, Jim was never intrigued by Mrs. Kennedy's Bible stories as much as he was intrigued with the power religion exerted over her. He wondered why she donated her time to teach Bible classes at the Methodist Church or why her husband gave up his weekends to help maintain the church property. Jim learned his lessons, but he learned more about people than he did about the Bible. During this period he began to indiscriminately tour the local churches. He could be seen with the Methodists or the Quakers or the Nazarenes, or the Disciples of Christ or the Pentecostalists. The wife of the local Pentecostal minister befriended Little Jim and he was often seen at her home, reading the Bible and practicing what she saw as his tremendous talent as a preacher. Jim's childhood was spent studying religion from every possible angle.
Little Jim conducted his first "pretend church" in the loft of a carriage house in his back yard. He would gather together the neighborhood children and officiate at services that were a combination science fair and revival. Jim sat, like a judge, in the only chair while the others gathered round the table to examine a slide in his microscope or the chicken to which he had tried to graft a duck's leg. Sometimes he preached from the Bible, sometimes he helped them with their homework or conducted funerals for their deceased pets, some of which he had killed just to create the services in which he would be in charge. A neighbor, at the time, later recalled Little Jim's "pretend church,"
He would preach a good sermon. I remember working about two hundred feet from the Jones place. He would have about ten youngsters in there, and he would put them through their paces... line them up and make them march. He'd hit them with a stick and they'd scream and cry. I used to say, 'What's wrong with those other kids, putting up with it?' But they'd come back to play with him the next day. He had some kind of magnetism. I told my wife, 'You know he's either going to do a lot of good or he's going to end up like Hitler.Hitler could hardly have escaped the attention of the German population of Lynn in the late thirties nor could he be a stranger to the impressionable young boy who studied Nazi Germany before the war. Little Jim often mimicked Hitler, slicking his hair to one side and awaiting the "Heil, Hitler" password that would admit a playmate into the loft. Other times, he wore a white, hooded robe, like his father's KKK outfit but, unlike his father, Little Jim would parade in his costume during the light of day. There has never been any evidence to suggest a local Nazi Party influence on either Big or Little Jim, but there is no doubt that Little Jim embraced the Nazi philosophy, at least from a distance. It was more than just play. He studied and understood the Nazis. Understanding world politics, even having an interest in the subject is extremely rare for a little boy and though he was an adult in many ways, Little Jim was only just a boy.
The Joneses never had much money. There was only Big Jim's pension and Lynetta's pay from the factory that had since shifted operations to fill defense contracts during World War II. Between the two incomes they were able to raise Little Jim whose childhood was at least indirectly financed by the War Department. Big Jim's brother, Bill, tried to help. He lived with the Joneses until he reportedly fell to his death from the G Street Bridge in Richmond. Years later, Lynetta would claim that Uncle Bill had been murdered.
Soon after the war, toward the end of Jim's junior year in high school, Lynetta and Big Jim separated. They never had much of a marriage. They had always slept in separate beds, some said due to Jim's coughing spells but moreover theirs was but a marriage of convenience held together and perhaps even prompted by the sake of the child Jim. Now that he was close to finishing school and capable of earning a living, there was no further need for the charade. Big Jim moved into a room at the Waldon Hotel in Lynn where he died three years later. Lynetta and son moved to Richmond where Jim enrolled as a senior at Richmond High School and accepted a full time position as an orderly at Reid Memorial Mental Hospital. After a year as both a full time student and orderly, Jim graduated in mid-semester and the announcement in the Richmond High Year Book attests to his interest in medicine , "Jim's six syllable medical vocabulary astounds us all." While working at Reid Memorial, Jim met Marceline Baldwin, a nurse four years older than he, who had graduated from a federally-funded program to work at the hospital. Marceline and her roommate , Evelyn Eadler, were often seen in the company of young Jones in Richmond's coffee shops and movie theaters. On June 12, 1949, soon after his graduation, Jim and Marceline were married in a double ceremony with Marceline's sister and her groom. Evelyn Eadler was the maid of honor. The brides' father, Walter Baldwin, was a respected Republican city council member and the wedding, held at the Methodist church where he was known as an elder, was attended by the mayor and the city fathers of Richmond. Immediately following the ceremony, without so much as a honeymoon evening, the newlyweds moved to Bloomington where Jim had enrolled in Indiana University as a business major. He had been rooming with a student who later remembered him as "maladjusted," an embarrassment who was generally ignored by the other students. Jim continued his studies while Marceline supported the couple, working nights in surgery in the hospital across the street from their one room apartment. She spent her days taking care of their home and studying for her credentials in nursing education. After completing three semesters on the Bloomington campus, Jones decided to change his major to the social services and move to Indianapolis to pursue a law degree. This was a critical point in Jim's (or any other young man's) life when thoughts of the future encouraged him to set a course. Instead of concentrating on one of his interests, Jim decided to pursue them all in a unique career. He would combine his interest in science, medicine, religion, business, social services and law to become a faith healing preacher. There were many such evangelists but none who were as intelligent, talented or knowledgeable as Jim Jones. It will never be known whether the sum total of his interests and experience dictated his career choice or the career choice had guided him through the various experiences on the way to a predetermined goal. It suffices to say he was perfect for the job. Jones saw more than just the Cadillacs, flashy clothes, power, money, religious groupies and the other benefits of the occupation. With his background in science and medicine, he knew what the experts have since discovered; the power of the spirit to heal the body. Jones was well ahead of the times as this holistic approach to medicine would not be accepted until years later through the combined efforts of scientists and evangelists, such as President Carter's sister, Ruth Carter Stapleton. Most of Jones's faith healings were faked stage shows but that should not discount his desire and ability to study the subject from a scientific point of view.
Ronnie Baldwin, Marceline's ten-year-old cousin, came to live with the Joneses in their small apartment behind the Shriner's Temple in Indianapolis. Ronnie had been remanded to a foster care home after the untimely death of his father. His mother, it was said, was "incapable" of caring for the boy. Ronnie would remain with the Joneses for about a year during which time Jim used the boy to create the image that he was a family man which helped to dispel some of the suspicion associated with being the only White face in a Black crowd. Since Marceline supported the family, Jim was free to attend classes, lectures and church services. He attended Black church services with young Ronnie who, after a year of being dragged from one Black church to another was only too glad to move back with his mother. Jones studied the various techniques of Black ministers and preachers while attending Butler University part time. It would take him ten years to earn a bachelor's degree in education.
Jones helped supplement Marceline's income by working part time as a night watchman. Like his father he carried a revolver and like his father he carried it to enforce law and order which, considering the place and time, carried with it an extreme prejudice against communists and Blacks. On one occasion, he and Ronnie, hand-in-hand, attended a lecture on communism that he promptly left after being told the meeting was under surveillance by the FBI. It was the McCarthy Era and there were many such communist witch hunts, especially in right-wing, KKK country like Indianapolis. Considering his later work, the incident raises a question as to whether Jones was afraid of being spied on or afraid of being exposed as a spy. The incident, which occurred in 1952, may well be the first recorded report of Jim Jones' work for government intelligence.
In June of 1952, Jones officially entered the ministry when he accepted a position as student pastor at Somerset Methodist Church in a poor, White neighborhood of Indianapolis. He studied for the Methodist ministry and preached a doctrine of racial equality that alienated the exclusively White congregation but attracted new Black parishioners to the services. He had met many Black church- goers while touring the Negro houses of worship with young Ronnie. He invited all to come and hear him preach at Somerset. Many did and the conservative church elders asked Jones to resign. He did.
Meanwhile, Jones had been establishing a name for himself at church conventions in Columbus and Detroit. Even under the scrutiny of fellow preachers, he stole the show. He was a spell-binding orator with a particular talent to "discern"; a popular revivalist's trick. Jones would call out the names of various people in the audience and discern some secret about them. He would reveal their phone number or some physical complaint or past illness. The subject would step forward and the young preacher would pray for them and, with a slap on the forehead, they would "fall out"; a phenomenon that is a combination of emotional overload and a severe blow to the head. Some would rise immediately, brush themselves off, and return to their pew, while others would lie on the floor for hours, quietly or in convulsions.
Following the theatrics, the collection plate would be passed through the faithful. All the ministry know that discerning is a hoax but they admired Jones' skill, his style of showmanship and extraordinary memory to say nothing of the professional detective work it required to gain the discerned information without the subject's knowledge. Jones was great. He could repeat social security, insurance policy, and driver's license numbers for dozens of people, all from memory. Never once in his career did he speak from notes. Perhaps his success was due in part to his access to government files.
While researching the discerned information, occasionally, Jones would discover that the subject had recently complained of some ailment. A prime example was the elderly, somewhat feeble, Black woman who had complained to a doctor about a sore throat. The information may have come from the doctor's office or the pharmacy or from Marceline at the local hospital but, in any event, Jones would call out her name during the services and discern something that impressed the congregation. He would then claim that through the divine intervention of the Holy Spirit he had a revelation that she had cancer of the throat. Religious fanaticism aside, the subject would tend to believe him, especially in the wake of her recent complaint and his uncanny knowledge of information contained in the most personal files. She would come forward and Jones or Marceline or some other Caucasian aide would force their fingers down the subject's throat until she choked and gagged. Through slight of hand they would emerge from the clutch with the "cancer"; a spoiled chicken liver dripping with blood from a concealed capsule. It was all very authentic, even the blood was real, having been drawn from Jones or an aide prior to the show. Cancer passings were common practice. In addition to throat cancer, there was a rectal passing as well but, like the violence in a Greek play, it was performed off stage and left to the audience's imagination.
Jones worked his Black congregation into such a fury that each healing was an outburst of emotion that electrified the air. Of course the collection plate was circulated immediately. The money was counted in a back room while things calmed down on stage. An aide would whisper the total to Jones in the pulpit who would select another subject, pass another cancer and pass another collection plate. The series would continue, sometimes for several hours, until the total donations equalled the estimated total contents of their pockets.
Many of the faith healings were performed on and by preacher's assistants in disguise, the especially when Jones took his show on the road to Ohio where the locals were less likely to recognize the accomplice. The most convincing healings were those in which the subject was an innocent believer. Their spontaneous emotion was far more effective than anything that could be staged.
After being forced out of Somerset Methodist in 1954, Jones rented an abandoned church building in a poor neighborhood of Indianapolis. He dubbed his first business the "Community Unity" and, as the name implies, it was more of a social services office than a church. He had conducted services in the loft as a child and in borrowed churches, on street corners and in backyards since, but now he had a pulpit of his own. The Community Unity defies description. Even though some worshiped there on Sunday, it was not a church, it was not recognized by any denomination nor was Jones an ordained minister; he would not be for another eight years. The Community Unity defies description.
No one would argue with the fact that Jones was a brilliant religious showman, whose talent in the pulpit could have been successful with any demographic but Jones never tried to recruit wealthy Caucasians; he wanted an exclusively Black congregation. By almost all accounts, his congregation was both Black and White and later Native American) but this multiracial image is simply not true. His organization resembled the caste system of ancient Egypt. The capstone at the peak of the pyramid was the pharaoh, everything and everyone else existed to support him. The next lower level consisted of a group of priests, physicians and merchants who carried out the pharaoh's will and knew some of the state secrets. Below them was a larger group of slaves who comprised the broad foundation for this social structure modeled after the design of the pyramids. Jones, of course, was the pharaoh. Below him was a group of several dozen trusted aides; the middle management, the spies who collected the "discerned" information and the medical technicians who drew the blood and prepared the rancid chicken livers for the phony faith healings. They were all Caucasian. Below them was the largest group; the congregation, and they were all Black. Jones did use his White lieutenants to his advantage but the primary purpose of his work was to extort money from the Blacks. Everyone admired him; the Blacks for his self-proclaimed divinity and the Whites for his ability to convince the Blacks of his divinity and fleece their pockets at the same time. Everyone admired him and many of these early recruits would follow him across two continents to their bitter end.
One such early recruit was the Caucasian assistant. pastor Jack Beam, an employee of a local pharmaceutical company. Beam was a tough, abrasive personality. He was Jones' second-in-command, body-guard, strong-arm man and assistant in the faith healings. In the technique of interrogation known as "good cop -- bad cop," Beam was the bad cop; the threat of violence if the manipulated subject did not comply with the wishes of the good cop Jim Jones. Beam Provided Jones with the ability to intimidate any Black parishioner who stepped out of line or strayed from the flock without tarnishing his own benevolent image. Virginia Morningstar later summarized the Blacks' generally accepted impressions of Beam, "I always felt as if he (Beam) was a hit man...I never felt he was legitimate.
Most of the early followers were recruited from other churches. Jones would target a desirable congregation and arrange to bring a contingent of his followers to their services. As was the custom, Jones would give a guest sermon and the hosting minister would reciprocate the following Sunday when he would escort some of his congregation to services at the Community Unity. Many visiting parishioners left their previous church to return to the Community Unity which attests to Jones' superior talents. Many others were drawn to Jones through his weekly broadcasts on radio WPFB in Middletown, Ohio. During this period, he often looked east to Ohio for new followers. Perhaps it was the larger Black population or the predominant German population or the federal jurisdiction over his interstate business that made Ohio attractive, but regardless, it shows how Jones was reaching out for a select congregation rather than broadening his ministry in order to attract more local Indianapolis residents. In 1954 and 55, Jones toured the small towns between Cincinnati and Columbus with a traveling revival show held in local Pentecostal churches or under the circusy atmosphere of a rented tent. He recruited a strong following in Xenia, Dayton and Hamilton and many followed him back across the state line to Indianapolis.
Jones rarely, if ever, mentioned the word "God," except in later years when he cursed what he called the "Impotent Sky God." His sermons were more apt to quote the newspaper than the Bible. His was a ministry of current events; a down-to-earth religion;a more concerned with pleasing the federal government's requirements to receive financial support than pleasing God for some after-life reward. The Community Unity, like his subsequent churches, was more political and social than religious. Even according to Jones' own account it was not a church but a "movement." Meanwhile, the Jones household grew as fast as the congregation. A middle-aged woman, named Esther Mueller, moved in to help Marceline with the housework. She would cook and clean and remain their personal maid until her death in Guyana. An eighteen-year-old blonde girl, described only as "Goldie" was another addition to the family. Her relationship with Jim and Marceline has never been established beyond one report that the couple was helping her to start a career in nursing. In 1954, the Joneses adopted a pretty nine-year-old girl named Agnes whose mother had unexplainably given up her daughter to the young preacher and his wife.
By 1956, Jones had amassed sufficient funds to purchase a modest church building on Fifteenth and North New Jersey Streets in an inner-city neighborhood of Indianapolis. He named his new headquarters the "Wings of Deliverance." Of course, Sunday was his busy day. At 8 AM he would broadcast a short sermon on radio WOWO in Fort Wayne. The regular service at the Wings of Deliverance was at 10:45 AM. The miracle service, which included the faith healings, was scheduled for 2:30 PM. the evangelistic service was held at 7:45 PM, followed by an evening sermon broadcast on WIBC in Indianapolis. The different services allowed Jones to reach more people than his little church could hold while the individual theme of each performance enabled him to attract and please a variety of believers.
Shortly after the Wings of Deliverance opened its doors, Jones organized a huge, five day religious convention that was held in an Indianapolis hall in June of 1956. Headlining the bill was the popular Southern author and faith healing evangelist, the Reverend Bill Branham and, of course the aspiring young preacher Jim Jones who sacrificed top billing for the sizable crowds that Branham would attract. The event was widely publicized and drew some eleven thousand to the opening ceremonies. As usual, Jones stole the show and the new parishioners he recruited into his flock were exceeded only by the dollars he put into his pocket. It was at this convention in the summer of 1956 that the Wings Of Deliverance became the Peoples Temple Full Gospel Church and the odyssey began.
Jones preached an anti-communism doctrine that reflected the philosophy of the McCarthy Era in general, and the KKK and American Nazi Party in particular. Though, in retrospect, it might seem a bit absurd, Jones' stated campaign was to fight communism through communalism. He made reference to the communal lifestyle of Christ's apostles and quoted such passages from the Bible as, "And they sold their possessions and goods and imparted them to every man as every man had need." He established Jim/Lu/Mar; an Indiana corporation for profit owned by Jim, his mother, and his wife. The corporation's charter states that its purpose was to receive donations of real estate. Like many others, Esther Mueller donated her home and possessions in exchange for Jones' promise to provide her needs for life. Esther alone, contributed $27,000; considerable sum in 1950 dollars.
So much money flowed into the Peoples Temple that, within a year, Jones purchased a second, more impressive church building on Tenth and North Delaware Streets in a nicer neighborhood of Indianapolis. The massive front steps, the three-story facade, the stained glass window and uptown address was a quantum leap forward in the young preacher's career especially since he did it all on his own, without help from any established denomination. The new Peoples Temple seated 400 and the adjacent brick parsonage was large enough to one day house forty. Jones had purchased the property from Rabbi Maurice Davis for fifty thousand dollars. He took possession of the building with a small down payment and a promise to pay the balance, interest- free, in one year's time. He did so 364 days later. Jones would purchase two other church properties in his career. Both the Peoples Temple in San Francisco and Los Angeles were, like the first in Indianapolis, former Jewish synagogues. This defies all probable odds and leaves one to wonder what made former synagogues so attractive to Jones. Perhaps it was the church-like atmosphere but with geometric designs in the stained glass instead of portrayals of Christian Saints. Jones liked the eternal flame that was left by the previous tenants. He kept it lit in place of the traditional Christian cross. The Peoples Christian Cross. The Peoples Temple was not a Christian religion. There is convincing evidence that it was not even a religion, but it is unclear why Jones was attracted to former Jewish temples; an interesting pattern for a closet racist whose favorite subject was Nazi Germany.
In mid 1958, Jones set out to help the federal government solve a very serious problem. During the Korean War, American servicemen had fathered many children who had been abandoned both by their fathers (who returned to the States) and their mothers, many of whom were prostitutes. The illegitimate children had been remanded to special orphanages in Seoul. The government of South Korea expressed its discontent to Washington over the burden of supporting their children and warned the U.S. that the racially-mixed orphans would never be accepted in Korean society as Korean racial prejudices are extreme by American standards. They would probably die from neglect in the orphanage unless the U.S. took them in. The scenario would be repeated twenty years later in the wake of the Vietnam War but this was the first time Washington had to deal with it and individual adoption seemed the only solution. From his pulpit at the Peoples Temple, Jones encouraged his congregation to adopt these war babies and, to set a good example, he and Marceline traveled to the West Coast in October of 1958, to adopt two orphans sent from Seoul to California. The newest additions to the Jones family were four-year-old Stephanie and two-year-old Chioke who they renamed Lew Eric. During this, their first trip to California, Marceline conceived their only child. In May of the following year, Marceline was eight, months pregnant and stayed behind as Jim, Stephanie, and a contingent of supporters traveled to Cincinnati for one of their exchange services. On the way back home, Jones rode in one car while young Stephanie rode in another car with Mable Stewart, the Temple's nursing home supervisor, and four of her workers. All six would die in a car crash of undetermined cause. Jones would lament over the deaths for years to come. He would recall a premonition he had received earlier that evening which prompted him to lead the Cincinnati congregation in a chorus of,
On up the road
Far in the distance
I saw a light
shining in the night...
Then I knew...
Far in the distance
I saw a light
shining in the night...
Then I knew...
Biographers would later claim that Jones sabotaged the car to silence Mable Stewart and her assistants who had been questioning the untimely deaths of several senior parishioners Jones had placed in their care. The death of young Stephanie exempted Jones from any suspicion and, if he did actually sabotage the car, that was probably the reason he wanted his daughter to ride with Mable Stewart. Jones, if only in later years, was capable of murder. Three weeks after the accident, on June 1, 1959, Marceline gave birth to Stephan Gandhi Jones, named for Stephanie and the East Indian leader. Within the year, the Joneses would adopt another child; a Black baby boy about Stephanie's age who they named James Warren Jones Jr. Later they adopted Suzanne, another Korean War orphan and Tim Tupper, a blue-eyed, blond who completed what Jones proudly called his "Rainbow Family."
Once he had attracted a sizable Black congregation, Jones knew that he had to do something spectacular to keep them in the fold and that nothing could bind a group together like the threat of a common enemy. Since none existed, he created one. Temple members began receiving late night phone calls and anonymous letters that warned the parishioners that their affiliation with the racially-integrated Peoples Temple had put them at odds with the powerful Klu Klux Klan and the Nazi Party. Several Temple services were interrupted while Jones emptied the building after allegedly receiving a bomb threat. All the threats were staged to create the image that some unseen "bad people" were threatening such "good people," led by Jim Jones (who went so far as to paint swastikas and racial insults on the homes of his Black followers). The fake threats served to bind the Black congregation together under the leadership of their new hero but the overall effect was to disguise what was essentially a Caucasian experiment in the control of Blacks.
By 1960, the Temple's social programs exceeded those offered by the city of Indianapolis. Jones had opened a free soup kitchen that served one hundred meals a day to the city's destitute. He established a youth center to educate and entertain idle teenagers and several nursing care homes for the elderly; at least those who had a house to donate and a pension to support them. The social programs provided good publicity and implied the Temple's sense of social conscience and wholesome community spirit when in reality the programs were profit-making businesses. Jones allocated only $25 a week to the soup kitchen.
Temple volunteers gleaned over-ripened, stale and discarded food from local businesses, turning the losses of local grocers into tax-deductible, charitable contributions. All food stores, restaurants included, throw away everything from bones and meat scraps to dented cans and bruised produce. The Temple offered the businessman a grossly inflated tax deduction for what would have been his loss. A good example might be a grocer who was stuck with a hundred dollars worth of bananas that had spoiled. The Temple allowed him to turn a hundred dollar loss into a five hundred dollar tax deduction while they used the free bananas to make pudding for the soup kitchen and the nursing homes that received most of the donated food. Meanwhile, Jones used the inflated needs of the free soup kitchen to exact hundreds of dollars from anyone who pitied the poor. The youth center often provided able-bodied slave laborers, but the most profitable program was the nursing home business. Elderly victims, hand-picked by Jones, would donate their houses, savings and pensions to Jim/Lu/Mar in exchange for the companionship, security and attention they needed in their later years. The major advantage to Jones was that most of the money was paid in advance for the long-term services that never equalled the cost and continued only as long as the patient lived. Many residents of Temple nursing homes would die prematurely under suspicious circumstances. Twenty-four such seniors lived in Jones' home that had been partially converted into a care facility managed by Marceline's parents. Walter Baldwin had taken an early retirement from politics to live with his daughter and son-in-law and run their business as the Joneses were getting ready to leave Indianapolis. The Baldwins would be semi-involved in the Peoples Temple for the next eighteen years until, on the final day, they departed Jonestown as Congressman Ryan arrived.
It is easy to view Jones as a showman, a trickster and a crook but, despite his often brutal extortion tactics, he was not interested in personal financial gain. He never spent the money on himself. He did buy a used black limousine but that was expected, especially at funeral services. His clothes were old, he had no expensive habits like drinking or smoking, he led an austere life and reinvested all the profits into the Temple and his growing household. Jones did not desire money; he wanted power. In the end, his personal reward was not money but a bountiful sex life.
News of Jones' alleged good work spread and, in 1960, the Peoples Temple was accepted into the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ denomination; a distinction they would enjoy until the end. The affiliation with the Disciples of Christ would provide some capital and the much needed security of a well-established tax-exempt status.
By all accounts, Jones was truly brilliant. He was extremely intelligent, well-read, and highly skilled in perception and deception. Everyone respected his abilities. To the Blacks he was a White messiah whose miracles were evidence of his alleged close relationship with God. He was equally admired by his Caucasian assistants, not for his demi-divinity, but for this talent to attract, organize, control and deceive Black people; a rare ability for a White man. Sometime prior to 1960, Jones' work caught the attention of the Central Intelligence Agency. Always on the lookout for talented people to recruit, the federal agency recognized Jones' power over Blacks and offered to help in his career in exchange for his services rendered. He may not have had a choice but, in any event, Jim Jones joined the CIA.
IV THREE COUNTRIES, THREE COMMISSIONS
In his first few years with the CIA, Jim Jones played a role in at least three of the agency's international projects; the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, the racial revolution in British Guiana and the military coup d'etat in Brazil.
During World War II, Fidel Castro was working as an actor in Hollywood, rehearsing his future part in world politics. He had about two dozen supporters back in Cuba who were looking to the United States for aid and assistance in overthrowing the progressively oppressive government of Fulgencio Batista. Castro returned to Cuba with the money and training he needed. Batista fled or abdicated-there is little difference. Castro assumed power as Premier and soon returned to the U.S., not to Hollywood as an aspiring actor, but to Washington, D.C. as a head of state. Much to nearly everyone's surprise, he did not ask for any U.S. support. He could have received millions of dollars to use as he saw fit. It was there for the asking; but Castro had a much different relationship with the controlling powers in the U.S. government. He was about to embark on one of the major world plays of the century; a CIA plot to deceive the Russians.
Cuba's economy was based on tourism and sugar cane. Castro nationalized the resort hotels and casinos and opened the luxurious facilities to Cuba's common man. He seized all foreign business interests, most of which were owned by Americans with reputed connections to organized crime. He then signed a contract to supply sugar to the Soviet Union. By 1959, the CIA was spreading rumors that Castro was a Communist.
Thousands of Cubans opposed Castro's rule and many fled the country to reorganize in Nicaragua and Florida to plot his overthrow. The CIA immediately moved in to take control of the situation by offering "U.S. support" to their cause. The CIA established an anti-Castro radio station on Swan Island in the Western Caribbean. Few listeners paid any attention to the broadcasts until Castro identified the station as a CIA operation. Swan Island is little more than a pile of bird droppings and a few palm trees that survived a recent hurricane. The island is claimed by Honduras and an American, Sumner Smith, who leased the property to station manager Horton H. Heath. Radio Swan encouraged the Cuban rebels and directed them into the hands of CIA operatives like Bernard Barker and Howard Hunt who established a string of safe houses from Miami to Key West where expatriated Cubans were trained and armed for a planned invasion of their homeland.
Regardless of the CIA's true motives for their part in what would be the Bay of Pigs invasion, it was to their advantage to recruit as many of Castro's enemies as possible and therein lay a problem, as many had remained in Cuba. To complete the ranks of the invasion force it became necessary to send agents into Cuba to ferret out these people and convince them to join forces with their fellow Cubans under the direction and protection of the CIA. Such an extremely sensitive mission required a very special agent. They needed a man with no prior history with the agency, one with not only a cover to explain his presence in Cuba but his recruitment of Cubans to return to the United States. Above all, he must be a master of persuasion. The chosen candidate for the task was Jim Jones.
In 1960, Jones, along with his wife Marceline, flew to Cuba for his first international assignment with the CIA. First he met and was photographed with Fidel Castro, after which Castro took the Joneses on a tour of the interior to inspect the wreckage of a downed U.S. plane that Castro claimed was sent by the CIA to fire bomb Cuba's sugar cane fields. After photographing the plane and the charred remains of the pilot, Jones returned to Havana to set up headquarters in a resort hotel. According to his cover, Jones was a missionary who wanted to recruit forty Cuban families to return to Indianapolis with him in exchange for money and support. One example of his success was a Black man who, after thirteen hours of briefing, agreed to leave his home and join the Peoples Temple in Indiana. He moved into the parsonage where he lived until just prior to the scheduled invasion when he "disappeared," presumably to join the Cuban force in Miami.
Immediately following his inauguration as President in January of 1961, John F. Kennedy was briefed by CIA Director Allen Dulles on the agency's plan to invade Cuba. Kennedy was not told everything, only what he needed to know to decide whether to authorize or cancel the project. Dulles explained that this was a legacy from a previous administration that could not be disbanded without considerable embarrassment, even violence, as this group of Cubans was actually a well-trained and equipped foreign army on U.S. soil. President Kennedy reluctantly agreed to Dulles' invasion plans and was quoted as saying, "If we, have to get rid of these men, it is much better to dump them in Cuba than in the United States, especially if that is where they want to go."
In April of 1961, a flotilla of 1,500 Cuban exiles set sail from Florida for the return to their homeland and the overthrow of Castro's government. Grossly misinformed by the CIA and spurred on by Radio Swan, the ragged fleet landed at the Bay of Pigs, directly into an ambush set by 100,000 Cuban troops. The invasion was doomed to fail from the start. It was a deliberate suicide mission.
The CIA, which is typically silent about their covert operations, was quick to admit their sponsorship of the anti-Castro Cubans and their obvious failure at the Bay of Pigs. The agency then proceeded to circulate absurd rumors concerning their aborted plans to assassinate Castro by such exotic means as poisoned cigars, exploding seashells and fountain pen/hypodermics loaded with lethal bacteria. They even let leak a plan to discredit Castro and break his charismatic hold on Cuba by dusting him with thallium salts to make his beard fall out. Seriously, if the CIA really wanted to kill Castro, they had ample opportunity to do so. A bullet would have sufficed. The wild stories they circulated were just that; wild stories, intended to create the public opinion that Castro was an enemy of the CIA.
Understanding the complexity of this and other CIA operations is as simple as separating the reality from the rhetoric. Basically, what the agency does is what they want to do; what they say they do is exactly 180 degrees from the truth and any information they leak to the public is intended to disguise their true motives. Speaking as an independent researcher who has the greatest admiration for the accomplishments of the CIA, the national security of the United States has been entrusted to a very competent organization that never fails to achieve its goals and the Bay of Pigs invasion was no exception.
In the late 1950's the CIA recognized that the Soviets were seeking a military foothold in the Western hemisphere and rather than allow the inevitable to occur uncontested, they took control of the situation and offered the Russians Cuba on a silver platter. Russia is ninety miles from the northwest corner of the U.S. and could not resist the overtures of Castro, whose country is ninety miles from the southeast corner of the U.S. Cuba was the perfect site for the military base they planned. They did not realize that it was too perfect and fell into one of the greatest deceits of the twentieth century. The CIA had fooled the Russians into putting all their efforts into Cuba, therefore defusing and controlling the situation while gaining direct access to Russia's military technology. It was a brilliantly staged plan. The entire world (including the Russians, the Americans and even President Kennedy) truly believed that Castro was the enemy of the United States. Everyone was dealing in rumor and rhetoric, no one could see the reality. The CIA had put Castro into power and then, with the help of agents like Jim Jones, had rounded up all his enemies and sent them and their cause to the grave at the Bay of Pigs. Fidel Castro owes his success to the CIA, which sheds a new light on President Kennedy's Cuban Missile Crisis and the reported Cuban connections to his assassination.
Jim Jones' position in the preparation for the Bay of Pigs invasion was middle management at best but nevertheless important as it establishes his early association with the CIA that would enable this self-proclaimed preacher from Indianapolis to be received as a visiting dignitary by foreign heads of state. It was also the basis upon which he would build a reputation as an authority on U.S./Cuban relations. He maintained communications with Castro and later revisited Cuba several times. He would advise future presidents on dealings with Cuba and establish a U.S. Cuban trading company and, on one occasion, be the primary suspect in a crime that created a major international incident between the two countries. Jones returned to Indianapolis to what must have been a very crowded house. There was Jones, his wife, their eight children, the Baldwins, two dozen nursing home patients, various Cuban exiles and even his mother Lynetta -- at least forty people -- all under the same roof. Lynetta had since found employment more suited to her personality; she was a correctional officer at the Indiana Women's Prison where she guarded the predominantly Black inmates.
The CIA does not pay its operatives very much money but they do help to insure their financial security as a disgruntled agent in need of money is a prime target for hire by a foreign power. In Cuba, Jones had proved his worth; he was a member of the team and so entitled to certain benefits. Soon after he returned to Indianapolis from his Cuban trip, Jones was appointed director of the Indianapolis Human Rights Commission by Superior Court Judge Mercer Mance. The job opening was not advertised and Jones was the only Applicant. Previously, the position had been filled by volunteer who worked without pay but Judge Mance elected to elevate the part-time job to a $7,000 a year salaried position; a salary first given to Jim Jones. Aside from a few well-publicized token efforts to integrate restaurants and movie theaters in Indianapolis, Jones' performance as Director of the Human Rights Commission was mediocre, at best. He did little more than secure the job and prevent someone else from being effective.
By May of 1961, Jones had a large interracial family, his own church, a wide following, public recognition as a humanitarian and a private reputation as one of the few Caucasians able to rally the support of Blacks. He had all this as he turned thirty years old. The CIA was so pleased with the young preacher's test mission in Cuba that, immediately following the Bay of Pigs invasion, they assigned him a second and third task. He was allowed to complete college and received a bachelors degree in education from Butler University in June, after which he was to go to South America and aid in the overthrow of two governments. The assignment required that he first travel to Hawaii to meet with a group of U.S. mercenaries headquartered there. The trip to Hawaii would be mostly business; briefings primarily, but it was also a respite and somewhat of a reward in recognition of his service in Cuba before he would once again risk his life for the CIA. The South American assignments required that he be absent from Indianapolis for two years and, in order to gracefully exit from his position in the community, Jones staged a media manipulation. He informed the Indianapolis News that he was once again under attack from an unseen enemy. Columnist William Wildhack reported on August 11, 1961,
The Rev. James W. Jones expected some unpleasant experiences when he agreed to serve as director of the city's Human Rights Commission. He was not wrong. Nearly every mail brought letters reviling him. Then he was harassed by telephone both at the office and at home... He has become the victim of a letter-writing campaign. His name is forged to letters making insulting statements about minority groups. The letters are mailed to Negroes and others known to be interested in the problem of racial relations...He is bewildered, not knowing how to fight this form of vilification.Bewildered he was not. He had written the letters himself and faked the phone calls. As usual, his plan was brilliant and timely. Before the ink of Wildhack's story had dried, Jones was lounging on the beach in Hawaii. He had left Indianapolis and the newspaper article to explain why. He had left his Peoples Temple and their community projects in the hands of his assistants. He had left his position as head of the Human Rights Commission, only to lose the post through neglect. He had left everything he had worked so hard to achieve in order to pursue something he called, "The Big Time." In Hawaii he signed over Power of Attorney to his mother in anticipation of a possibly dangerous mission. Once rested and rehearsed, Jones, Marceline, their rainbow family, bodyguard Jack Beam and wife Rheaviana flew from Hawaii to Georgetown, British Guiana where they would contact other CIA operatives who were gathering for the planned revolt.
The "failure" of the CIA's Bay of Pigs invasion had deceived President Kennedy into thinking Cuba was hopelessly lost to the Communists. Believing there was nothing more he could do about Castro, Kennedy directed an intense effort to avert yet another Communist take-over in the Western Hemisphere. From CIA reports, he learned of the Communists' plans to control the neighboring South American countries of British Guiana and Brazil. Of the two, it would first appear that Brazil should warrant most of Kennedy's attention due to its larger size and importance to the United States, but such was not the case. Intelligence reports did indicate that Brazil's president, Joao Goulart, was demanding constitutional changes that would transform his country into a Communistic state but the CIA believed there was an equally strong right wing faction in the Brazilian military to counter Goulart's efforts. So precariously were the Brazilian political scales balanced between the leftist government and the rightist military that the CIA could affect a military coup with only a slight push. Protecting Brazil from a Communist take-over would be relatively easy; it was British Guiana that presented the real problem as there was no right wing faction to counterbalance the Communist government of Cheddi Jagan's People's Progressive Party that had assumed power in September of 1961. British Guiana was so important to Kennedy that he personally manned the British Guiana desk at the U.S. State Department. According to syndicated columnist Drew Pearson, who would later record Kennedy's activities in his column dated March 17 , 1964:
The United States permitted Cuba to go communist purely through default and diplomatic bungling. The problem now is to look ahead and make sure we don't make the same mistake again...In British Guiana, President Kennedy did look ahead.In October of 1961, one month after he was elected Prime Minister, Jagan and his American wife Janet were invited to Washington where they met with Kennedy and various representatives of the British government. Since Guiana was a British colony at the time, all CIA activities had to first be cleared with British Intelligence. Following their meeting, Kennedy and England's Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, along with the intelligence organizations of both countries, agreed that they could not work with Jagan and immediately set out to support his only political opponent, the right wing racist, Forbes Burnham.
While Cheddi Jagan was meeting in Washington , Jim Jones arrived in British Guiana with the task of overthrowing his government. He wasted no time. On October 21, 1961, the Guiana Graphic published a photo of Jones and his family over the headline: "Church Blamed in Reds Rise." In the article that, followed, Jones blamed the affluent Guianese clergy for bleeding the wealth from the people which made communism appear attractive to them. The article served to help attract the anti-communist faction to a new hero, Jim Jones, whose assignment was to organize and aid their cause. Jones proceeded to recruit and train a group of Black Guianese rowdies who were to incite race riots and labor strikes intended to cripple Jagan's government. With his rainbow family and doctrine of racial integration, Jones had the perfect disguise for his work as an instigator of race riots. His Peoples Temple provided the necessary missionary cover as well as an excellent conduit to filter money from the U.S. to the Guianese rebels. Anonymous donations, given to his Indianapolis church, were forwarded to Jones, who distributed the money as he saw fit to finance the planned civil disturbances. He had told his Indianapolis congregation that his purpose in South America was to feed the poor. He did open his home to feed and house a number of Guianese but most of the recipients were the dissidents he had been instructed to organize.
Jones' immediate supervisor in the coup was Richard Welch, the CIA station chief in Georgetown. Jones reported to Welch, who in turn reported directly to President Kennedy. It was Welch who introduced Jones to the CIA's candidate, Forbes Burnham, immediately upon his arrival in Georgetown.
In February of 1962, Jones' rebels began their reign of terror by inciting race riots and labor strikes. Prime Minister Jagan was forced to declare a state of emergency and call in British troops to quell the disturbances. It was the beginning of the end of Jagan's administration. The February riots also marked the successful completion of Jones' work in British Guiana.
In May of 1962, Kennedy invited Burnham to Washington to meet with U.S. and British representatives to finalize their plans for him to assume power in Guiana. Arthur Schlesinger wrote in a letter to Kennedy, "An independent British Guiana under Burnham (if Burnham will commit himself to a multiracial policy) would cause us many fewer problems than an independent British Guiana under Jagan." In the summer of 1963, Kennedy met with British Prime Minister Macmillan to schedule Jagan's final demise. Under the pretext of continued riots, strikes and other civil disturbances, Macmillan suspended Guiana's constitution in October. Jagan's government fell; making way for Burnham who, within a year, rose to power with a coalition government. In 1966, Burnham declared his country's independence from England and British Guiana became Guyana. Burnham never forgot the debt he owed to Jim Jones and soon after Guyana's independence day, he traveled to Ukiah, California to visit the preacher who had helped destroy his political opposition. The Sunday Times (London) reported on April 16, 1967, that the CIA's activities in Guiana were undertaken with the full knowledge and cooperation of Prime Minister Macmillan and British Intelligence. The article contained the following synopsis,
As coups go, it was not expensive: over five years, the CIA paid out over TAR SYMBOL: L 250 000. For the colony, British Guiana, the result was about 170 dead, untold hundred wounded, roughly (TAR British Money Char L), 10 million worth of damage to the economy and a legacy of racial bitterness.Though the CIA's involvement in British Guiana is common knowledge, due in part to the more relaxed security of their English partners, Jim Jones' work for the agency is not, only three people knew: Burnham, Kennedy and Welch. Burnham owes more than just his political success to Jim Jones and the CIA as they guided him from total obscurity to a position as one of the ten richest Black men in the world. Burnham would never disclose the secret. It died with him in 1985 when he succumbed to undisclosed complications during throat surgery. President Kennedy's secret was assassinated with him, leaving Richard Welch as the only government official who might detail Jones' work for the agency in British Guiana. Welch was later transferred to the post of CIA station chief in Athens, Greece where, far away from any Guianese implications, in late December 1975, as Jones once again rose to prominence in Guyana, he too, was assassinated. Though the murder remains unsolved, a terrorist group called the November 17 Movement claimed responsibility.
The only other person who may have known of Jone's CIA work in South America was his old friend and agency operative Dan Mitrione. Born in Italy, Mitrione immigrated to the United States and joined the Richmond, Indiana police force in 1945. He first met Jim Jones in 1947 or 48. A cop on the beat (in what was then a small town of about 30,000) could not have overlooked the antics of a street corner preacher. In 1955, Mitrione became Richmond's police chief. In 1957, he joined the FBI and in 1960 he joined the CIA who sent him to Brazil under the State Department's, International Cooperation Administration; the fore-runner of the Agency for International Development (AID). Mitrione's job in Brazil was to train the military regime's police force in counterinsurgency tactics, interrogation and torture under the cover of a "Public Safety Adviser." He worked basically with the same faction as did Jones in organizing a vigilante police Death Squad which killed hundreds of "undesirables" without arrest or trial. In 1969, after seven years in Brazil and two in Washington, D.C., Mitrione was sent to Uruguay to help that country's oppressive, corrupt regime eliminate a group of middle-class professionals known as the Tupamaros. The Tumpamaros' only crime was to steal incriminating documents from government offices and send this proof of government corruption to the courts. Under Mitrione's direction, Uruguayan police imprisoned, tortured and killed hundreds of suspected members of Tupamaros to protect the interests of the Uruguayan, and presumably, the United States governments. When Mitrione stepped up the violence so did the Tupamaros and on July 31 1970, they kidnapped him and held him as ransom for the release of 150 of their group held in Uruguayan prisons. The government refused and sometime in early August, Mitrione was killed. Uruguay then suspended the human rights clause in its constitution and Mitrione's Death Squad (with additional help from the CIA) exterminated the popular Tupamaros movement. Back in the United States, the White House eulogized the fallen agent as a "defenseless human being" and singer Frank Sinatra hosted a fund-raising benefit for his family. Dan Mitrione probably knew of Jones' work in Brazil, he may even have been the one who recruited Jones Into the CIA, but like the other witnesses, he was killed prior to the establishment of Jonestown.
Jones left Guiana for Brazil in February 1962 after reading a magazine article that would have a curious and profound effect on the rest of his life. The article, entitled "Nine Places to Hide," appeared in the January 1962 issue of Esquire, a conservative men's magazine published for distribution in the United Sates, England, and apparently Guyana. Esquire's managing editor, Harold Hayes, capitalizing on the then current bombshelter mentality, elected to include this guide to the nine places on earth most likely to survive a nuclear world war. Using a complex formula that took into account proximity to military and civilian targets, prevailing weather patterns, availability of radiation-free food and potential for post-war economic recovery, the article identified the following safe places: Belo Horizonte, Brazil; Eureka, California; Guadalajara, Mexico; Christchurch, New Zealand; the central valley of Chile; Mendoza, Argentina; Cork, Ireland; Melbourne, Australia and Tananarive, Madagascar. According to the article, many people had already relocated to these safe places in anticipation of World War III. The recent industrial development of Cork, Ireland was attributed to prosperous German businesses that had established branch operations in Cork "as insurance of company survival in the event of nuclear war." Jones reacted to the Esquire article as if it were a coded order from President Kennedy whose portrait graced the magazine's cover and there is some indication that that is exactly what it was. One clue was that the article closed by mentioning John Foster Dulles whose brother, Allen Dulles, was then Director of the CIA. Esquire magazine had a reputation as a mouthpiece for U.S. government propaganda ever since World War II and it is entirely possible that they were printing coded communications for intelligence operatives in the field, who would only need to understand the cipher and subscribe to Esquire to receive their orders. In any event, Jones immediately moved his family to Belo Horizonte, Brazil, to begin the second half of his South American mission.
The rainbow family checked into a hotel room in the heart of Belo Horizonte where Jones was contacted by an American missionary, Ed Malmin. The Reverend Malmin and his family had been working in Brazil's western frontier for four years and had only recently moved to Belo Horizonte, perhaps in response to the Esquire article. Malmin welcomed his colleague to Brazil and helped him get settled into an upper class three bedroom house that Jones had rented in a suburban community called San Antonio. Jones' assignment in Brazil was to funnel money and advice to the dissident right-wing faction of the Brazilian military and to assure them that, after their planned coup d'etat, the United States government would recognize and aid their new regime. Unlike the English speaking Guianese, Brazilians speak Portuguese which presented an obstacle as Jones spoke only English. Malmin offered the services of his daughter, Bonnie, who had been working as a secretary/interpreter for another American missionary. Bonnie moved in with the Joneses. She would live in their house for about six months.
Bonnie Malmin was a beautiful, sixteen-year-old, buxom blonde, who later reported, "...my secret idol had always been movie star Brigitte Bardot; I had done my best to copy her saucy image...always thinking about my appearance and trying to be sexy." Bonnie's Aryan features set her apart from the dark-skinned Brazilian population, making her an object of desire to the military officers that she and Jones met with regularly. Jones was concerned that Bonnie might get pregnant. She assured him she would not but, "Nevertheless, Jim provided me with a male contraceptive to carry in my purse just in case. 'I believe you,' he said, 'but please promise me that you'll carry this in your purse wherever you go.'"
To his congregation back in Indianapolis, Jones was a missionary trying to establish an orphanage in South America but he had no such religious cover in Brazil. According to Bonnie, religion was not even a subject in the Jones household. They had no Bible or other religious publications; they said no prayers --not even grace before meals. Jones did place a classified ad in a local journal inviting people to come to his home for "spiritual guidance" but that was as close as he came to the traditional role of a missionary. According to neighbors, the Jones home was a beehive of activity both day and night. As in Guiana, most of the recipients of Jones' hospitality were the locals he was organizing to overthrow the government. He had taken a job as an investment salesman to help explain his financial dealings with the Brazilians. Each morning he would leave his house dressed in a suit; briefcase in hand. He returned in the late evening and never discussed his day's business. He was often seen in the company of a Brazilian woman who neighbors suspected was his housekeeper though his housekeeper was a much younger, local girl. He once visited the office of his employer, who later described his briefcase as being full of money -- it probably was. According to Bonnie Malmin,
From time to time Jim met with government officials, learning as much as he could about the country and its systems, trying to determine whether this would be a safe haven from the imminent nuclear horror. He spent his days reading and thinking, often sitting cross legged on the bare floor of the living room pouring over the newspaper and calling to me to translate: "Bonnie -- tell me what this says. What does this headline say? Read this article to me."
He was most attentive, of course, to anything about military hardware.It would appear that all was going well with Jones and his Brazilian operation, but such was not the case. Perhaps the operation was too complex for him to control or maybe it was because the Brazilian city-dwellers were far more sophisticated than the Guianese natives he had last worked with, but in any event, Jones made an awful mistake and was exposed in print as a CIA operative. A local newspaper reporter accused him of filtering money to military officers to finance a coup. In a published article, Jones refuted the charges by telling the reporter that his money came from his pension as a retired U.S. military officer. In one breath he attempted to explain the source of his income and the reason he preferred to associate with the Brazilian armed forces. Jones had never served in the armed forces and his lie backfired. The newspaper printed that, despite the claims of the "flamboyant American," -- "We all know he's CIA."
Panic struck the Jones household. Bonnie Milmin reportedly attempted suicide but was rescued by her bodyguard. Plans were made to hide her at the ranch of a wealthy Brazilian banker until the danger had passed but, in the end, no place in Brazil was safe for Bonnie and she was shipped off to the United States where she enrolled in the Bethany Fellowship Missionary Training Center in Minneapolis. By her account, she would not see Jim Jones for another eight years.
Meanwhile, the Jones family fled the scandal and moved into a seventh floor apartment on the prestigious Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro where Jones had accepted his first teaching position at the University of Sao Fernando. With his political activities greatly curtailed, he would sit out the balance of the Brazilian operation in relative seclusion, teaching and studying at the university.
The Jones family would reside on the Copacabana for about fourteen months which in itself contradicts Bonnie Malmin's contention that they lived a meager , rather Spartan life style in Brazil. Jones had sufficient resources to support himself, his family, various aides and servants and even some locals. Poor missionaries do not carry briefcases full of money nor do they take extended vacations on the expensive Copacabana Beach. To add to the paradox, Jones would appear to possess more personal wealth after his stay in Brazil than he had prior to leaving on the South American trip. One account claims that he would return to the United States with over one hundred thousand dollars in cash; the money he needed to start his California church. If anything suffered financially, it was his Indianapolis Temple. In his absence membership dropped from over two thousand to only seventy-five and the church was reduced to near financial ruin. Despite the troubles back home, Jones was not about to leave Brazil. His assignment was not yet completed and besides, he was enjoying a well-deserved vacation. As an alternative to the dilemma of his need to be in two places at once, he sent Bonnie's father to Indianapolis after Rev. Malmin agreed to take over the Peoples Temple and repair some of the damage of neglect. In Indianapolis, Malmin arranged for a windfall of contributions from the Disciples of Christ to sustain his new pastorate until Jones returned. Also at about this time, Jones sent his bodyguard, Jack Beam, back to the States. Beam was ordered, not to Indiana, but to California where he would meet with the displaced Temple assistant pastor, Ross Case, to locate a site for the new Temple headquarters within the "safe zone" of Eureka.
While living in Brazil, Jones received his life assignment with the CIA's multi-million dollar MK ULTRA program. The MK ULTRA program was a series of studies in mind control (behavior modification) and obscure techniques of assassination that the agency had begun in the late 1940's from knowledge they had received from their Nazi German scientists. There were approximately 150 different MK ULTRA experiments being conducted in secret laboratories scattered throughout the world. Among the subjects studied were hypnosis, sensory and sleep deprivation, electroshock, ESP, lobotomy, subliminal projection, sleep teaching, and methods to artificially induce cancer and heart failure. Every conceivable mind-altering drug was investigated and some new ones were developed. It was an MK ULTRA lab in Switzerland that first synthesized Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (the mind opening drug LSD) in their quest for better ways to extort information from captured foreign agents. The CIA left no stone unturned in their search for knowledge on how to control human behavior. They even conducted studies in psychic phenomenon, parapsychology, and occult sciences like witchcraft and other Black Arts.
By the time Jim Jones was brought into the program, MK ULTRA was fifteen years old and many of the laboratories had since filed their final reports with the agency before disbanding. The experiments, conducted in university research departments, mental hospitals, and prison medical clinics, represented the most authoritative source of information on their assigned subjects within the limits of a laboratory environment. The agency had compiled a library containing data that needed to be collated into a comprehensive science of behavior modification. The task was assigned to Jim Jones, who would require another fifteen years to complete his findings in a major field test known as Jonestown.
While in Rio, Jones was briefed on MK ULTRA and took advantage of the locale to study voodoo and the African religion, Macumba, as well as the faith-healing preacher, David Martins de Miranda, who exhibited extraordinary control over his followers who referred to their leader as "The Envoy of the Messiah." This modern-day John the Baptist imparted much of his knowledge to the aspiring Jim Jones.
In October of 1963, Britain suspended the constitution of Guiana and the leftist government toppled.
In November of 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated, reputedly by Lee Harvey Oswald.
In December of 1963, the first of several military coups destroyed any hold the Communists might have had on the Brazilian government. Jones' work in South America was completed and he returned to Indianapolis.
Jones would later confide to one of his Temple aides that, while he was in Brazil, he killed a man by smothering him with a pillow as he slept. Though this particular murder can not be confirmed, what can be confirmed is that in his life, Jones was capable of murder. In the last days of Jonestown, he attempted to disguise his work in Brazil by dictating the following account to his chronicler,
You know, I didn't just hand out food in Brazil, I'd given assistance to various people, underground people, given them tangible help so they could defend themselves, defend their lives, and I preached communism openly. Questions were asked at the places I visited, and AID officials questioned one Brazilian family extensively about my activities. AID must've played a significant role in CIA activities. I got out of there just in time, I remember leaving the airport wondering wondering whether I wouldn't, get in trouble for what I was doing revolutionary-wise there when I got back to the United States.The account, conveniently survived the carnage in Jonestown to stand as the autobiography of Jones' Brazilian trip. Unable to deny his involvement in the political struggle in Brazil, Jones elected to use one of CIA's standard covers and admit to his involvement but, at the same time, imply that he was working for the Communists who opposed the CIA. Jones was well aware that the best way to disguise a lie is to include it within an extraordinary revelation of the truth. He would use the technique many times in his public career.
Though there is no documented evidence that Jim Jones ever met Lee Harvey Oswald, the two men shared several things in common. As a U.S. Marine, Oswald had a CIA security clearance for his work at the U-2 spy plane base in Atsugi, Japan. Atsugi Naval Air Base was the CIA's Far East headquarters and the site of one of their MK ULTRA labs. Oswald was a test subject. He learned to speak Russian from sleep teaching recordings. Eventually, he left the Marines with a hardship discharge due to his mother's failing health. Without apparent means of support, he then purchased a ticket on a luxury steamship bound for Russia where he would live and work for about thirty months. While in Minsk, Oswald was hospitalized for three weeks during which time he met and married Marina Nikolaevna Prusakova; the daughter (some say niece) of Colonel Ilya Vasilyevich Prusakova, a high ranking officer in the KGB (the Russian equivalent of the CIA). Oswald returned to the United States and, along with his Russian bride, settled in Dallas, Texas. His military discharge was changed to dishonorable but, at about the same time, the State Department granted him a large loan. Oswald associated with members of the China Lobby (a known CIA front operation) and the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. He applied for a passport and, despite his suspicious past, he received his visa in an unprecedented 24 hours. He then traveled to Mexico City where he was accompanied by two CIA agents assigned to him by their station chief Howard Hunt. Oswald was involved with a variety of characters, a few of whom are described in the following published article.
...Lee and Marina settled in Texas and soon took up with an odd assortment of friends, none more unusual than George De Mohrenschildt. Born a Russian count before the revolution, De Mohrenschildt thrived in a world of political shadows, appearing at various times to be working for Polish intelligence, the Nazis, the French Resistance, the British, the Americans, the Rockefellers -- a man of many masks. By 1962, he was calling himself a geologist and a friend to the Oswalds. In April 1963, Oswald moved to New Orleans, where his social circle--in view of his alleged Marxist sympathies--was even stranger than in Dallas. There he met Carlos Bringuier, an anti-Castro Cuban exile with CIA connections. Oswald first sought to work for Bringuier, then appeared to be working against him. Eventually, the two engaged in a well-publicized street brawl and then a debate about Cuba on New Orleans radio. Joining Oswald and Bringuier in the debate was Ed Butler, a right-wing propagandist for the Information Council for the Americas (INCA), a group that later sold LP's of the debate as part of its anti-communist crusade. The president of INCA was Dr. Alton Ochsner, described as a consultant to the air force on "the medical side of subversive matters." The directorships of Bringuier's anti-Castro group and Ochsner's INCA included the owners of the Reily Coffee Company, where Oswald, the man being denounced by both organizations as a communist, had recently been on the payroll.
By far the strangest bird to intersect Oswald's orbit was David Ferrie. Eccentric in behavior belief and appearance, Ferrie had been an Eastern Airlines pilot until he was arrested for a "crime against nature" with a sixteen-year-old boy. He was a priest in the Orthodox Old Catholic Church, a bizarre sect engaging in animal sacrifice and occult rituals. Ferrie had no hair on his body... and made a striking, if note shocking impression...Although the Oswald- Ferrie relationship, is well-proved, it is unclear when it began. The House Assassinations Committee suggested that the two young men may have met as early as 1956 in New Orleans, when young Lee was a cadet in a Civil Air Patrol headed by Ferrie. By the time of the 1963 radio debate, Oswald and Ferrie were well acquainted. A right-winger who hated Kennedy, Ferrie was active in paramilitary operations against Castro and claimed to have flown in the CIA-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Ferrie was also a hypnotist and fancied himself a biochemist. He claimed to have created drugs that caused cancer (something the CIA was also secretly developing) or caused heart attacks indistinguishable from natural death (another CIA endeavor), as well as aphrodisiacs and amnesia-inducing drugs... Many attributed his hairless condition to a chemistry experiment gone awry.Over twenty years later, researchers are left to wonder if Oswald was a "Manchurian Candidate," brainwashed by the CIA or the KGB to assassinate President Kennedy. Much has been published on Oswald's possible involvement in a conspiracy and the reality of the events occurring after the assassination underscores and even confirms the theory. George De Mohrenschildt, intelligence agent and friend of Oswald, died from an "apparent suicide" two hours after being interviewed by Edward Epstein for his book entitled, Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald. In a like manner, David Ferrie was murdered so soon after being interviewed by an investigative reporter, that the coroner placed the approximate time of death, not after , but during the interview. These two deaths were not the exception, but the rule. Of the thirty-one eyewitnesses to Kennedy's assassination who stepped forward to testify, eighteen were dead within three years -- six from gunfire, three from car accidents, three from heart attacks, two from suicides, one from a slit throat, one from a karate chop to the neck and two from reported natural causes. The Sunday Times (London) later reported that the mathematical odds of such deaths occurring without there being a conspiracy were one hundred thousand trillion to one.
The life of Lee Harvey Oswald has never been cross-referenced with the life of Jim Jones and, though the connection is purely speculative, it is curious to note the number of things shared in common by these two men who had such a profound effect on Kennedy's last days. Both Jones and Oswald had been cleared for top secret work with the CIA. Though Jones was an experimenter and Oswald was a subject, both were involved in tho agency's MK ULTRA program. Both men shared an expertise in the politics of Cuba and U.S. Cuban relations; long accepted as the reason Kennedy was killed. Finally, there is the case of attorney Mark Lane. Lane was legal counsel to Oswald's wife, Marina, following the assassination and later emerged as the foremost authority in the country on the CIA conspiracy to kill Kennedy. His book, Rush to Judgment, contradicted the findings of Allen Dulles, Gerald Ford and others on the Warren Commission who insisted that Oswald had acted alone. So convincing was his evidence that Lane succeeded in petitioning the government for a second official investigation; the House Select Committee on Assassinations scheduled their hearing for November 1978. As Lane prepared his testimony and supportive witnesses, he was contacted by Terri Buford of the Peoples Temple. Buford asked Lane to Jim Jones whom she claimed was being represent harassed by the CIA. Encouraged by a large retainer and the promise that Jones had information about the CIA that would be valuable in his research, Lane accepted the case and traveled to Jonestown in September 1978, to meet his new client. Upon his return to the United States in October, Lane announced in a press conference that, he was favorably impressed with Jonestown and agreed to represent the Temple in a lawsuit they were initiating against various federal agencies, including the CIA. In November, Jones refused to allow Congressman Ryan's party to enter Jonestown until Mark Lane was present. Following Ryan's visit, Lane was in Jonestown as the massacre began. He was allowed to escape into the jungle. Only days later, he stood before the House Select Committee on Assassinations, still shaken from the experience in Jonestown. He was upset and disorganized. Actually, Lane had been totally discredited by his association with Jim Jones. Terri Buford who reputedly defected from Jonestown only three weeks before the massacre, moved into Lane's Memphis home to help him write an account of his experience entitled The Strongest Poison. Attesting to Lane's investigative abilities, the book is well referenced and detailed, but Buford's influence served to suppress the truth. If Lane's career as an expert on CIA conspiracies was not already ruined, the media assault that followed certainly finished him. He was accused of, among other things, traveling to Switzerland with Buford to empty the Temple's bank accounts in her name. Whether Lane was duped or purchased does not really matter, the end result was the same. Jones had silenced the foremost critic of the CIA, while at the same time using that person to file a suit against the CIA to disassociate himself with the agency in those last few critical months of Jonestown. Ironically, Jones had used Lane to help masquerade his activities as well as the agency's activities.
Jim Jones and Lee Harvey Oswald. At best, it is only a side story and not significant, only thought-provoking. Jones probably never met Oswald but the two had enough in common to say that they prescribed to the same circles of interest, which adds some credence to Jones' claim that, while in Brazil, he accurately predicted the assassination of President Kennedy.
Jones returned to Indianapolis around Christmas of 1963 to resume control of his Peoples Temple from Ed Malmin. Malmin would remain with the Temple for about a two month transition period, after which he ordained Jones a minister in the service of the Disciples of Christ. It would be Jones' only religious title, one that he would maintain in good standing until the bitter cyanide end. His affiliation with the Disciples of Christ (that probably began when he studied for his teaching credentials at their Butler University) would help to legitimize his Peoples Temple. The Disciples of Christ boast a national membership of nearly two million, including such noteworthy people as presidents Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan and FBI directors J. Edgar Hoover and Clarence Kelly. The Peoples Temple was the largest single contributor to the Disciples of Christ, having donated over one million dollars to the organization.
Following Jones' ordination on February 16, 1964, Ed Malmin totally dropped from the story, never to reappear. All of his actions can be justified, save one: How could this minister offer Jim Jones his teenage daughter? There is a plausible answer. First, Ed Malmin was not as he appeared to be. He had grown up on the West Side of Chicago during the Roaring Twenties as a tough, street-wise delinquent, whose gang members called him, "Halfpint," due in part to his small, (5'-7", 140 lb.) frame, and in part to the bootlegged
whiskey flask he always carried in his hip. What he lacked in size, Halfpint made up in determination and a rowdy spirit that, combined with his admiration for the local Chicago gangsters, soon found him committed to a juvenile home for his racketeering. Eventually, he escaped from the home and traveled as a hobo around the country to emerge from this rather dubious background as a graduate of Aimee Semple McPherson's Los Angeles Theological Seminary and the Assemblies of God School, the Right Reverend Ed Malmin. Jones claimed that Ed Malmin, himself, had sexually molested his daughter, Bonnie, who never voiced any objection to Jones' allegations. But was she his daughter? An earlier doctor's report had confirmed that Malmin's wife, Judy, could not bear children. Her pregnancy and the birth of Bonnie was a "surprise" to everyone. Bonnie Malmin may well have been adopted.
According to the announcement in the Indianapolis Star, Jones planned to "represent the church in Brazil following his ordination," but such was not the case. He remained in Indianapolis where he liquidated the assets of his Temple and his congregation for their move to the only "safe place" in the United States: Eureka, California. Jones' scouts had relayed an article that had appeared in the Humboldt Standard (Eureka) that, in response to the Esquire article, further defined their safe zone as a corridor extending from Eureka to Ukiah. Jones selected Ukiah and sent dossiers of his followers to the scouts who were to locate suitable housing and employment for the pilgrims.
Approximately one hundred and fifty Temple members migrated the two thousand miles to Ukiah in the spring and summer of 1965. Jones would follow, but not before issuing his farewell address to Indianapolis. After one of his Sunday morning broadcasts on WIBC radio, Jones informed Indianapolis News reporter William Wildhack that, once again, he was under attack by the KKK and the Nazis, who objected to a political comment he had aired on a previous program. Wildhack reported on April 17, 1965;
The Rev. Mr. Jones has taken a prominent role here in the struggle for racial equality. He served as executive of the mayor's Human Rights Commission and he has adopted children of Negro, Korean and Japanese ancestry. He says some nasty remarks were made on the phone concerning his views on racial matters, but these seem secondary to the attacks on his theological views. One of the favorite tricks of the anonymous callers was to get one of the children on the phone and say: Did you know your father was an anti-Christ, a devil? During this period, the radio station received harassing telephone calls, a fact confirmed by an employee involved. So, worried about the possible effect on his children and to save the station the embarrassment, the Rev. Mr. Jones voluntarily stopped his broadcasts.
Good-bye Indiana. Hello, CaliforniaBefore continuing on with Jones' career in California, it is best to complete the story of Bonnie Malmin while her contributions to Jones' Brazilian mission are still fresh in the reader's mind. In her second year of missionary training, she became Mrs. Bonnie Burnham when she married a tall, dark-haired student from Upstate New York whom she would identify only by his surname. In 1966, following another year of training and a year's internship in a small rural church in Western New York State, Bonnie Burnham and her husband left on a mission to Brazil where they reportedly worked in an orphanage in Sao Paulo. While in Brazil, Bonnie gave birth to two children. Stephan, the first, was named for Jones' natural son and Stephany, the younger, was named for Jones' adopted daughter who had been killed years earlier in an auto accident. Bonnie's Stephany also died, soon after birth. Though it had been years since Bonnie had seen Jim Jones, the naming of her children after his attests to the strong influence he still exerted on her life.
The Burnhams returned to the United States in 1970 and, after a brief stay in Costa Mesa, California (where Bonnie had grown up) they moved to Ukiah to join the Peoples Temple. They lived with Jones and his family until they acquired jobs and a place of their own. Burnham reportedly worked at the local Masonite factory with several other Temple members. Bonnie worked as secretary and legal aide to Temple attorneys Gene Chaiken and Tim Stoen, and also assisted Jones in Temple services. She would follow the preacher as he walked among his congregation. She carried a tray that held a comb for his hair, a towel to wipe the perspiration from his forehead and a bottle of drinking water. It was Bonnie's responsibility to be certain the water had not been poisoned. As with all top Temple aides, the Burnhams contributed 25% of their income to Jones. Bonnie also helped to perpetuate Jones' propaganda, as evidenced by the following testimony she gave to the congregation,
Until Black people are accepted without racism and bigotry in the United States, I will remain ashamed of Norwegian heritage and blond hair. Eleven o'clock on Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour of the week in America. Only in Peoples Temple do you find a real, living Christ-like example of what Jesus talked about, and I'm proud to be a part of it.Actually, there was considerable truth to Bonnie's statement but nowhere was that truth more evident than in the Peoples Temple where Bonnie and others of the exclusively Caucasian hierarchy ruled the predominantly Black congregation.
According to Bonnie, the Burnhams did not have a monogamous marriage,
we decided to give each other permission to have affairs without letting that disturb our other reasons for staying together...If he found somebody he was interested in, he was free to check her out, and the same went for me.Around September of 1972, Bonnie Picketed the San Francisco Examiner with Jones after the paper's religion columnist, Reverend Lester Kinsolving, penned a series of articles damning the Peoples Temple. After the demonstration, Jones asked Bonnie to seduce Kinsolving, gain his confidence and find out how much he knew about the Peoples Temple. According to Bonnie, she answered, "Sure, Jim -- if you think it'll do any good"
And then there was the time that Jones announced in a meeting of the Temple's Planning Commission that the CIA had given him a video recording of one of Bonnie's sexual encounters. Bonnie contended that Jones had set up the affair and denied any knowledge that her performance had been taped. Clearly, Jones did arrange and tape Bonnie's sexual relationships. Such standard procedures in the Temple were usually used to blackmail the Temple member's unknowing partner.
Sometime during 1974, Bonnie left her husband and the Peoples Temple and moved to Santa Cruz, California, where she found employment as an insurance salesperson. She divorced the mysterious Mr. Burnham. It is odd that she never mentioned his first name, odder still that he is not mentioned in any other account of the Peoples Temple. It is almost as if the intention was to allow him to remain anonymous, perhaps for good reason. The Burnhams' relationship had all the earmarks of a marriage of convenience, something that permeates the history of the Temple's hierarchy. During Bonnie's stay in Ukiah, Guyana's Prime Minister, Forbes Burnham, visited his old friend, Jim Jones, in the Temple. There remains only one vague reference to their secret meeting from Ukiah reporter Kathy Hunter, who interviewed Burnham during his stay. Could Bonnie's husband have been related to the Prime Minister?
In Santa Cruz, Bonnie dated several men (most noteworthy, a parapsychologist) and her promiscuity earned her the nickname, the "Blonde Bomber." For the next three years, Marceline Jones would spend weekends with Bonnie in Santa Cruz. It was her retreat. Bonnie also visited the Joneses in Ukiah and occasionally attended Temple services in San Francisco, where her only responsibility was to escort Mayor George Moscone.
In June of 1978, Bonnie married one Hank Thielmann to begin the last act of her play. Soon after the wedding, she was contacted by former Temple attorney and reputed defector, Tim Stoen, who offered her $1,200 from an unnamed donor to join the Concerned Relatives on Congressman Ryan's inspection tour of Jonestown. She agreed and became the only Concerned Relative who did not have a family member in Guyana.
During the trip to Guyana, Bonnie gravitated to the company of Tim Stoen and Congressman Ryan and was one of only two Concerned Relatives who accompanied Ryan to a dinner at the U.S. Ambassador's home. While the group waited in Georgetown for permission to enter Jonestown, Bonnie disassociated herself from their efforts and set out on her own to get an appointment with Jones. She radioed her request from the Temple's Georgetown office. Jones' affirmative reply came only minutes after the Congressman's plane left for the jungle interior. Bonnie would remain safe in Georgetown during the massacre. Her last words to Ryan were a warning,
Leo, promise me you won't spend the night in Jonestown. You don't know how Jim Jones' mind works. There's nothing he won't do to stop you. I know you're getting a late start in the day, but if you stay overnight, he could send some naked woman into your room and then flash the picture all across the States -- he'll do anything.Bonnie knew firsthand how Jones' mind worked as many a time she had been the "naked woman" in the picture.
Soon after news of the massacre reached Georgetown, Bonnie left Guyana with Tim Stoen on a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules transport plane sent by Stoen's brother to rescue them. She appeared again in South San Francisco at the funeral of Congressman Ryan. For reasons of security, the church selected for the services was rather small, too small to hold the hundreds of mourners who waited on the front lawn as secret service men searched the building for possible Temple assassins or explosives. Only a selected few were allowed to enter the church. After a private word with the secret service agent in charge, Bonnie was among them. She waited on the front steps and grabbed George Moscone's arm as he passed. They entered together. In the vestibule, she whispered to the mayor that, if he remained silent, she and others would come to his aid and testify that he, too, had been duped by Jones. She gave him a hug and a polite kiss on the cheek. Moscone took his assigned seat in the middle of the group on the right, while Bonnie continued to her assigned seat in the second row on the left, amid the congressional delegation she had been sent to spy on. According to a local newspaper article,
'I don't understand it', the mayor reportedly confided to friends, 'but I'm scared.' He did not mention that he was frightened of anything or anyone in particular, only that recent events -- especially the murder of his longtime friend, Congressman Leo Ryan in Guyana -- were troubling him. At Ryan's funeral in South San Francisco last Wednesday, a woman stranger gripped Moscone's arm as he was entering the church and said something to the effect that she was going in with him. 'It was a harmless thing, but it scared the daylights out of him,' a friend of the mayor said yesterday.Bonnie was no "stranger" to Moscone, nor was their encounter a "harmless thing." Certainly, Moscone had not forgotten his personal Temple "escort" but, due to what appears to be the true nature of their relationship, it is no surprise that he denied knowing her. Nor is it surprising that he was frightened by their encounter, he had every reason to be. Bonnie's was the "kiss of death;" Moscone had exactly five days live before he, too, was assassinated.
Following the eulogy given by Joe Holsinger, Ryan's longtime friend and foremost advocate of the theory that Jonestown was a CIA MK ULTRA experiment, the group left for the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno. According to Bonnie, "I rode to the cemetery on one of the buses reserved for congressmen, thanks to having received a pass while sitting in their row."
Ryan was buried with full military honors, next to the grave of Admiral Chester Nimitz, rather ironic as Nimitz was a friend and neighbor of the family of Ryan's co-assassin. Chip Carter, the President's son, presented a flag to Ryan's mother. Later that day, a private reception was held at the San Francisco Hilton hotel. Somehow, Bonnie managed to be invited upstairs to the suite reserved for Ryan's family where she met and spoke with all thirty-five relatives. As with the congressmen Bonnie's task was to ascertain whether any of Ryan's relatives were suspicious of a conspiracy in the death. She was still working for Jim Jones.
Bonnie then set out to defend her association with Jones by writing a book about her experiences in the Peoples Temple. The "Blonde Bomber" took a week's vacation at the Cenacle Retreat House in Warrenville, Illinois where, along with professional writer Dean Merrill, she outlined The Broken God that was published in January, only two months after the demise of Jonestown. The religious retreat was the appropriate theatrical backdrop for her work which repeatedly quoted the Bible to explain the events of her life and her reactions to them. As far as the book could stretch the truth, it portrayed Bonnie as an innocent, religious woman who desired sympathy for her ordeal in the Temple. The Broken Go d is sufficiently accurate in detail to be used as a reference in this chapter but, like other firsthand accounts, the book omits the important aspects of the story.
Jones often claimed to be the reincarnation of various historic figures, including the Egyptian Pharaoh, Ikhnaton. Marceline Jones was supposed to have been Ikhnaton's wife, Nefertiti, and Bonnie one of their six daughters. She fancied herself as the one who married Ikhnaton's nephew and successor, the famous Tutankhamen. The Joneses were close to Bonnie, who was one of the few people to witness the public career from beginning to end. Her total contribution to the efforts of Jim Jones will probably never be appreciated. Bonnie Malmin Burnham Thielmann, by any name, hers is the life story of a Peoples Temple whore.
V A CALIFORNIA CONCENTRATION CAMP
About a hundred miles north of San Francisco lies a patchwork quilt of small horse farms and rolling vineyards known as Mendocino County. The county is known, internationally, for its production of fine wine grapes and nationally for its production of high-quality marijuana: the county's leading cash crop. Most of the region's sparse population is concentrated in the cultivated flat lands between the Coastal and Mayacamas mountain ranges in an area the native Pomo Indians named "Deep Valley" or Ukiah. Ukiah, the county seat, was a sleepy rural community of 10,000 in 1965 when the Reverend Jim Jones and his followers arrived in the heat of midsummer. The Peoples Temple would remain headquartered in the Ukiah area for the next nine years,
during which time they would infiltrate every aspect of county government, sway political elections, purchase a sizable portion of the real estate and businesses and, in short, become the ultimate power in Mendocino County; the only safe place in the United States.
The Temple's advance team had primed the local press for the pilgrims' arrival. George Hunter, the managing editor of the Ukiah Daily Journal and his reporter wife Kathy were offered gifts intended to produce the favorable press coverage necessary if the Caucasian locals were to tolerate what would be their only Black neighbors. Kathy Hunter wrote the front page article that introduced the Peoples Temple to Ukiah in the July 26, 1965 edition of the Ukiah Daily Journal
Represented in the group and indicative of the substantial background of the membership are nurses, teachers, a pilot, a traffic engineer, an electronics man, salespeople and private businessmen. One of the newcomers has already purchased an apartment house, another has bought a Ukiah motel, and still another is negotiating the purchase of a rest home here.As early as February of 1965, the Temple's advance team had initiated negotiations to purchase the Evangelical Free Church on the corner of Bush and Henry streets in Ukiah. Jones would hold services in the building until November of 1965 when he withdrew his offer to purchase what was the only available church in town. The Temple reportedly broke off negotiations when their Indiana corporations lost their licenses because they failed to file the required annual reports. Actually, they had formed a new corporation, "The Peoples Temple of the Disciples of Christ of Redwood Valley" that could have easily purchased the church. The stated purpose of the new corporation, chartered on November 26, 1965, was to "further the word of God" but apparently not at the Evangelical Free Church building. Jones abandoned his first California headquarters after occupying it for five months, presumably rent-free.
Far from being a closed, tightly knit group living in a communal existence, members of the church live their own lives as part of the community as a whole, held together only by their belief that all men-- white, black, yellow, or red--are one brotherhood.
Jones next acquired the free use of a classroom at the Ridgewood Range, a religious colony located about ten miles north of Ukiah. The Peoples Temple met in that classroom for about two years until late 1967 when the Christ's Church of the Golden Rule, who owned the building, ordered the Temple off their property, reportedly fearing that Jones was trying to take over their church. The Temple then met in a 4-H exhibition barn at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds until early 1968 when Jones moved the services to the house he had purchased for his family in Redwood Valley, a remote village about seven miles outside Ukiah. The group first met in Jones' two-car garage under conditions so crowded as to discourage outsiders from dropping in on Temple services. Ukiah is primarily middle-class conservative Caucasians. Even though the locals could have provided sizable contributions, Jones did not recruit or even want their membership as they had no place in the experiment. There were Caucasian management personnel but few, if any, were from Mendocino County. Just about all of Jones' White lieutenants were hand-picked from Indiana and other parts of California. The only Blacks in Ukiah were those who Jones had brought from Indiana. Their numbers would increase as Jones succeeded in recruiting Blacks from the Oakland ghettos to relocate in Ukiah, live in Temple-owned housing, sign up for welfare with a Temple aide in the county office and provide the labor, the money and the subjects for the experiment being planned. Temple aide Edith Parks described the period when Jones was turning away the locals who were sampling the services of his new church in a letter to Virginia Morningstar, dated April 26, 1968 which began "burn this." Thankfully, she did not.
... All work at something. They have to, rent is $90-$125 for small houses and groceries are so high. Most of them pay 25 percent tithes. It will take care of them all later some way. Jim is turning them away from church. 85 for Easter. 35 last Sunday. People are awakening and are worried but he says it is too risky! He sends them back to their own churches and tells them to pray and work where they are. There isn't time to re-educate new ones, even those who have been taught far ahead of our "type" of religion.Edith Parks' letter was indicative of the prevailing attitude of the Temple's Caucasian aides. She was more political than religious and strangely cryptic in her communications. Why was it "too risky" to allow just anyone to join? Why was there not enough "time to re-educate new ones?" Had the life expectancy of the Peoples Temple been set as early as 1968? Probably. By describing those who were allowed to join as knowing the truth about Jones and his mission, she reveals the extent of her own knowledge. Note her use of the third person "they". "They" must work. "They" pay tithes. Jones knew how "they" would die. Edith Parks and her family had joined the Peoples Temple in its early stages in Indianapolis and would play an important role in the final hours of Jonestown. Even though she was a lifetime member, she did not include herself in the ranks of the Black congregation. This "us and them" attitude, though contrary to the Temple's public doctrine of racial integration, was the true relationship between the Caucasian hierarchy and the Black Parishioners.
A few have even been allowed to come and they jumped in with both feet. You don't have to teach them anything. They know & they know who he is & what he is here for. He knows every
thought, act or deed. In the message Sunday he said everything that is to happen in the future has been seen & met for all who will meet conditions they must. He knows just what will
happen to each one, even how they will die ...
It will happen yet, right here, too. If only I could write it all but the American people have already been conditioned to go the way they are going and acting, so they will think we need the laws t at will be put through Congress, each one taking away more of our rights! Just watch who is for them! Reagan is a full-fledged fascist.
Temple membership doubled to three hundred in the first three years in Ukiah but by 1968 they still had no permanent headquarters other than the cramped quarters of Jones' two-car garage. The church in town would first appear the logical solution but, even though it was affordable and accommodating, Jones let the deal fall through as the property was too public. Anyone in town might wander in off the streets. Likewise the exhibition barn at the fairgrounds was much too public. The Ridgewood Range provided the private classroom setting Jones needed to indoctrinate his Caucasian lieutenants but it would not serve as the Black church they were planning.
So it was with three hundred people in his garage that Jones set out to build his first California church in the summer of 1968. The first step was to submit a building permit to construct a forty-one foot swimming pool next to his Redwood Valley home. Immediately upon completion of the pool, a second permit was issued to build a roof over the pool with the stated purpose of creating a youth center. When the roof was finished in October, Jones applied for and received a third permit to enclose the structure as a church. Possibly the only church in America built over a swimming pool. The word "church" is really not appropriate. There were no crosses or statues or pictures of deities or saints. The redwood structure was rustic and modern and not at all like a church. Only a star-shaped stained glass window, which was more Satanic than Christian, gave the impression that this was a house of worship. The rural setting of Jones' estate provided the privacy required to conduct his business in secret and stands as an example of the Temple's introverted personality. It was a closed group that did not attempt to recruit or even mingle with the locals. Though the location of the Redwood Valley Temple is understandably desirable, the roundabout method of construction used to build a church over a swimming pool is without apparent reason. The indoor pool was used for recreation, quasi-baptisms and occasionally punishment, but its role as the focal point of the Redwood Valley Temple has never been fully understood.
As in Indiana, Jones used the threat of an unseen enemy to bind his congregation together and, in this case, provide a logical reason for his plans to fence and fortify the Temple compound. In May of 1968, he placed a half-page ad in the UDJ to answer allegations and threats he said were generated by the local John Birch Society after he had led his people in a march to protest the Vietnam War. Since the Ku Klux Klan was not active in Northern California, Jones selected the John Birch Society as representative of the White supremacists who opposed the alleged socialistic politics of the Temple. Actually, Jones was close friends with Walter Heady, the society's local president. Heady often visited the Temple and was even allowed to address the congregation and present films. Jones often consulted Heady on political matters and the two men would maintain communication for years to come. Kathy Hunter, reporter, wife of the editor and co-owner of the Ukiah Daily Journal, reciprocated for the half-page ad by penning an article which appeared in the paper's June 3, 1968 edition under the headline, "Local Group Suffers Terror in the Night."
A telephone rings in the middle of the night, but when it is answered the only sound is someone's breathing on the other end--then the click of a receiver. Or it rings and, in a measured voice--all the more chilling because of its utter lack of emotion--comes the threat:Temple members continually complained to the authorities about night riders who shot out windows and threw dead dogs onto the Temple grounds. All the attacks were staged. The dogs were among the unfortunate strays gathered by the Temple's animal shelter. Not content with the public's acceptance of persecution, Jones arranged two attempts on his life during his 1968 campaign to publicly justify his ever increasing militarism.
'Get out of town if you don't want to get blown out of your classroom window.' Besides his duties to his parish and his many community services, Jones also teaches in Anderson Valley and Ukiah.
Bill Bush was a professional hair dresser who had recently moved to Ukiah to open a beauty shop with his partner Jim Barnes. Bush also donated his services at the Mendocino State Mental Hospital where he worked with many members of the Peoples Temple. He lived with his common law wife Beverly and their son Billy in the first floor apartment of a duplex house. His partner, Jim Barnes lived upstairs with his children and Temple member Jerry Livingston. According to the accepted story, Livingston seduced Bush's wife who, along with young Billy, was spending most of her time at the Peoples Temple. There is speculation that Livingston had actually seduced Jim Barnes but, in any event, one Sunday morning Bill Bush arrived at the Temple's front steps, mad as hell at the loss of his lover. He demanded that Jones allow him to see his son. Jones frustrated Bush at first by refusing to answer, then teased him to the point where Bush lost his temper and a scuffle ensued. Don Sly, the Temple's swimming Instructor and knife expert, intervened and produced a knife he claimed to have wrestled from Bush. Ten years later Don Sly would once again be called upon to stage a phony knife attack, this time against Congressman Ryan.
Even though Bush was probably innocent, the following morning he was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon after the police had received dozens of depositions from Temple members attesting to what they termed was attempted murder. The crime was front-page news in the Ukiah Daily Journal but as soon as the alleged threat against Jones had been established, he dropped all charges and Bush was released after paying a misdemeanor fine.
Another staged death threat occurred during one of the Temple's evening services when Jones stepped out into the parking lot for a breath of fresh air. There were several witnesses standing nearby when a shot rang out. Jones grabbed his stomach, blood spurted from between his fingers and he fell to the pavement. Only bodyguard Jack Beam was allowed to attend to the fallen leader who lay so still as to suggest to those in view that he was dead. All at once Jones rose to his feet and presumably back from the dead. "I'm not ready. I'm not ready," he proclaimed to the bewildered witnesses. A few minutes later he returned inside to address a tumultuous congregation. He wore a clean shirt and waved the bloody one, challenging anyone to analyze the blood he claimed was his. It probably was. It was common practice for Temple nurses to draw real human blood to use in their fake faith healings. The next day, the bloody shirt was put on display in a glass case installed near the podium as a constant reminder of both the unseen enemy and Jones' supernatural powers. The Temple's special effects department had prepared the blood-filled plastic bag that hung like a long necklace under his shirt. When the unidentified gunman fired the shot from his hiding place, Jones simply slapped the bag to break it and release the blood.
Throughout his career, all the phony death threats against Jones were contrived to strengthen his hold on the congregation and to give public the impression that he was either persecuted or paranoid, which would help to explain the otherwise unexplainable end he had planned for the Peoples Temple. The two assaults in the summer of 1968 also served to explain to the locals why Jones was fortifying the Temple compound. A chain-link fence, complete with barbed wire, was installed around the perimeter and a guard tower built by the front gate. Armed guards patrolled the fence with German shepherds twenty-four hours a day. Mrs. Vera Rupe was one of the first neighbors to notice the security guards who made no attempt to conceal their weapons as they paced the fence or drilled in the parking lot. She and her husband filed a complaint with the police charging the Temple with possession of illegal submachine guns and harassment. They claimed the guards spied on them with binoculars and the searchlights on the tower kept them awake at night. Jones had powerful allies in the sheriff's office who not only ignored the complaint, but issued no less than six concealed weapon permits to Temple guards. The armed guards, barbed wire, searchlights and attack dogs made the compound look like a concentration camp and in many respects it was. The fortifications were intended not only to keep people out but also to keep people in.
Through his connections in government Jones arranged to be appointed to several positions of power in Mendocino. He first approached the superintendent of the Anderson Valley School District located in Boonville some fifty miles southwest of Redwood Valley. A deal was struck in which Jones would enroll sixteen Temple children in the school district in exchange for a position teaching social studies to sixth graders in Boonville. The district received thousands more in state aid and Jones received a paying job that was more important to his plans than has been previously recognized. The meager salary Jones received from his teaching job could not have justified the cost of transporting sixteen children one hundred miles a day. He had several other reasons for teaching in Boonville. The Temple students were inner-city Blacks whose presence in the Ukiah School District was unique and disruptive. Jones defused a potentially difficult situation in his own back yard by transporting the Blacks fifty miles away in what might be the ultimate in forced busing. Mike Cartmell was the Caucasian leader of the displaced students and his instructions were to make certain that the Temple students did not socialize with the exclusively White Boonville children. It was segregation and not integration that would keep the peace in Boonville. Jones taught there for about two years until June of 1969 when he resigned and withdrew the Temple children. One report claims that he had a homosexual relationship with one of his students during this period. Jones counseled the boy after having been apparently responsible for his parents' divorce. The two would spend weekends in San Francisco where Jones demanded a minister's discount on the hotel room he registered under "The Rev. Jim Jones and Son." Though there were no eyewitnesses to such activities, what really matters here is not how Jones recruited his sixth graders but that he was recruiting them. The timetable was perfect. Some eight years later, as Jones was moving his Temple to South America, his sixth graders had just graduated from Santa Rosa Junior college. They went on to join the ranks of the guards and medical staff of the experiment.
Sixth graders are of particular interest to the CIA for it is at this level of education that the federal government studies every student in the country in the only mandatory national examination: the I.Q. test. Many argue its validity but nevertheless the federal government has required the I.Q. test for decades. It was originally developed in the early nineteen hundreds as a means [TAR not true?] to evaluate the mental capacity of immigrants from southern Europe. The U.S.government was afraid that Italians would dilute the human stock of America and so they developed this entrance exam to exclude what they perceived as the mentally deficient. Unlike most tests that measure one's ability to regurgitate information, the I.Q. test measures one's potential to learn. It is a logical progression, designed to evaluate not what a person knows, but his ability to ascertain and solve problem situations common to all languages and cultures. At home point in time the federal government required school systems to administer the test to sixth graders and forward the forms to Washington where they are now computer corrected. The students and even their schools are often denied access to the test results. The I.Q. test is not given to further the education of the student or to help the schools. The I.Q. test is given to further the interests of the agencies of the federal government, like the CIA, whose business it is to track the talented.
A hundred miles was a long way to travel each day; could there have been a specific attraction in Boonville? Boonville is the only community in the United States to have developed its own language. Years earlier, this remote town had invented "Boontling" a truly American language that served to bind the community together as well as confuse and deceive outsiders. Boonville has a national reputation for keeping to itself yet the Rev. Jim Jones broke the barriers and even recruited from its ranks. Perhaps it was he who was being tested under difficult circumstances; a test he apparently passed. In the end, Jones did retain the services of some of his sixth grade class. Some came to Jones because the CIA had assigned them. Some came because they were duped and some came because they were brainwashed in a painstakingly slow process that began in the sixth grade.
Jones used the same scenario to get a job teaching American history and government in Ukiah's fledgling adult education program. The evening classes were closed to all but the Temple hierarchy and remains as an example of how Jones used an existing system to his own ends. He would have taught his class anyway. With the arrangement, he received the free use of a classroom and even a salary for his efforts. Rather than draw from the CIA's labor pool, Jones would maintain ultimate security and actually create some of the operatives that would aid him in the experiment.
In 1967, Superior Court Judge Robert Winslow appointed Jones foreman of the Mendocino County Grand Jury. The following year, he was appointed to the Juvenile Justice Commission, an advisory board to the courts. Between the two positions he had the ability to bring charges for or against anyone in the county, especially considering his close relationship with Assistant District Attorney Tim Stoen.
In May of 1967, Jones formed the Legal Services Foundation of Mendocino County, a nonprofit group offering free legal services to the needy, most of whom were his followers who needed the services of an attorney to petition the courts for welfare support, to transfer property, or to settle a divorce or child custody case. In August, Marceline Jones resigned her seat on the foundation's board of directors to make way for her husband to be appointed vice president. Also in August, the foundation acquired the free use of an office in Ukiah and their first directing attorney, the former Assistant District Attorney Tim Stoen. Tim Stoen always played an important role in the Peoples Temple as Jones' second-in-command and the Temple's legal counsel. Some say he remains so to this day, but must believe Stoen's claims that he defected from the Temple in 1976. However, back in April of 1969, Tim Stoen was on a mission for Jim Jones when he left the Legal Services Foundation to accept a position with the Legal Aid Society of Alameda County where he was assigned to the West Oakland Black ghetto. Stoen counseled Blacks who were on welfare and in trouble with the law; the perfect demographic for the experiment. Many were offered a fresh start in the country atmosphere of Redwood Valley. A Temple aide in the Mendocino County Welfare Department would register the recipient who would sign over his check to the Peoples Temple in exchange for the housing, food and camaraderie he enjoyed under its care. His time was then free to work as a volunteer in whatever project the Temple had undertaken. The test persons themselves would provide the money and the labor for the experiment in which they would die.
There was always something to do in the political department. Temple members wrote letters in support of or in opposition to nearly every political issue of the day in the local, state and national arenas. Temple aides had infiltrated every county government office. Many of the elected officials owed their positions to Jones who controlled sixteen percent of the votes in Mendocino.
The Temple paid cash for the only shopping center in Redwood Valley and opened "Valley Enterprises" where propaganda was created and printed for public relations, recruitment and donations. The center also housed the Temple's bus garage as Jones had purchased eleven used Greyhound buses to transport his people. "More Things" on State Street in Ukiah was another Temple business that sold the personal Temple possessions members who donated, not only of the Temple household articles and jewelry, but also their labor as sales clerks. "Relics and Things" was opened in 1976 on School and Henry Streets as a last-ditch effort to divest the congregation of any personal wealth before transporting them off to Guyana.
Patty Cartmell the head of Jones' intelligence operations founded the "Ukiah Answering Service;" operations, home-operated business that employed seven Temple members to monitor the phone messages of the county's professionals and the radio communications of the sheriff's department. It was one of Cartmell's more overt intelligence operations. The Temple also operated a number of convalescent homes and a forty acre foster care ranch for boys that added many Social Security and welfare checks to its income. Over fifty of the Temple's seniors were convinced to cash in their life-insurance policies and donate the money to the Temple. Aides sold photographs Jones as talismans. According to Birdie Marable, "I made $80 to $100 a meeting." The mailings from Valley Enterprises were generating about 800 per day in donations mailed to the Temple. At least thirty-two expensive real estate properties were donated, the Temple, greatly adding to its wealth. One such San Francisco apartment house was in turn sold for $127,000. Jessie Boyd, an elderly Black member, gave twenty-five percent of her meager income to the Temple and still she was forced to bake and contribute seven or eight cakes a week. Later she recalled,
I bought all the fixings myself, and the church would take it over to the Safeway or Albertson's and sell each one for five dollars. I can't tell you how much I may have given in little bits of cash.Other elderly women sewed quilts that the Temple sold for about fifty dollars each. Temple children, unskilled and underage, were taken to San Francisco and dropped off on a busy corner to beg for donations. At the end of the day, a bus would pick up the kids and the money canisters for the ride back to Redwood Valley. To avoid punishment, the child had to provide at least five dollars for every hour spent on the streets. The money, in small and large increments, continued to flow into the Temple at many times the rate necessary to offset its six hundred thousand dollar annual budget. Tim Stoen was concerned that bank or government officials might become suspicious and investigate the origin of such large sums of cash so he advised Jones to open no less than fifteen bank accounts to evenly distribute the wealth. He was quoted as saying,
"I told him to move the money around. It was stacking up and was going to cause big trouble."Members who worked in the private or public sector outside the Temple were required to donate between five and fifteen percent of their income. Jones raised this figure to twenty-five percent to help pay for a stockpile of food, medicine, weapons and ammunition he said they would need to survive the winter of the post-nuclear war he predicted was close at hand. He told the congregation that he had located the perfect site for their bomb shelter; a cave in the hills a few miles away. Perhaps some expressed skepticism about its existence but, in any event, Jones led a contingent of his followers to inspect the site. After a long walk, the group came upon a depression in the earth, surrounded by a fence and warning signs. At the center of the depression was a small hole in the ground, just large enough for a man to enter. An aide was lowered down into the hole but after one hundred and fifty feet of rope, he never found the bottom of what was apparently a bottomless pit. Jones still insisted that all would be safe in the cave but he neglected to tell his Black congregation the local lore about the grotto. It seems that many years earlier, a Black man had reportedly raped a White woman in a nearby stagecoach station and a group of White vigilants threw the accused down the hole to his certain death. Ever since that day, the cave was known to the locals as the "Nigger Hole." Jim Jones had an unusual sense of humor.
In exchange for their donations of money and labor, the Temple provided its members with at least the bare essentials of food and housing. Members lived in Temple communes that were no more than overcrowded tenement houses. Each was charged rent that when totaled and weighed against expenses, netted the Temple an additional eight to ten thousand dollars a month. The Temple also operated dormitories at Santa Rosa Junior college where as many as twenty-five Caucasian members were packed into a cardboard-partitioned, single family house. Student board at Santa Rosa added another twenty-eight thousand dollars to the coffer every year.
Feeding his flock was a monumental task that Jones lessened by milking government poverty programs. Each member applied for and received government food rations thanks in no small part to the Temple aides who had infiltrated such government funded programs. The surplus powdered milk incident is a prime example.
On March 5, 1971, Mrs. Eunice Mock, supervisor of the Mendocino County surplus commodities program, and a colleague were driving along a county road near Redwood Valley when they spotted two open pick-up trucks loaded with between fifty and eighty cases of USDA powdered milk. Mrs. Mock was the sole distributor of such commodities in Mendocino County and, since she had no knowledge of such a substantial order, she suspected fraud and followed the trucks until they pulled over to the side of the road. One of the truck drivers, Temple member James Bogue, approached Mock's car to ask why she was following them. When she asked about the cases of milk that were clearly stamped "USDA", Bogue said that it was for the poor and none of her business. She copied down the license numbers and drove off to file a complaint with the authorities who discovered that one of the trucks was registered to the Peoples Temple. When confronted, Bogue said that the milk was not from Mendocino but was intended for the county's poor and that he was "incensed with the idea that the church was involved." His rebuttal did not satisfy the Department of Agriculture that dispatched two fraud investigators to speak with Jones in Redwood Valley. Jones denied that the truck was owned by the Temple. He also denied any knowledge of the milk in question and avoided further questioning by grabbing his chest as if in pain and retiring to his parsonage where he phoned Tim Stoen for help. Stoen was in the middle of an important county Board of Supervisors meeting but left abruptly when he received the message. He arrived at the Temple and immediately questioned the rights of the investigators and defended Bogue, Jones and the Temple.
Reports vary slightly from one account to the next but apparently both the investigators and the Board of Supervisors questioned the priorities of the Assistant District Attorney who said that his church came first and the county second. He proved his point by having County Supervisor Al Barbero Phone San Francisco Supervisor Dianne Feinstein to enlist her help in stopping the investigation. Feinstein was called because the powdered milk had originated in a San Francisco warehouse operated by the Community Health Alliance, a nonprofit, government-funded organization headed by Temple member Peter Holmes. Obviously, Holmes had been using his position to steal food from the government to feed the Peoples Temple; a practice that would have continued had it not been for the chance encounter with Mrs. Mock. As it was, the Temple returned the milk to San Francisco and the USDA continued its investigation for several weeks after which the Department of Health seized control of the warehouse and Peter Holmes resigned. No charges were ever filed. Neither the theft nor the Temple's involvement was ever reported in the news.
Aside from the donations it received from the outside and the tithes it received from its members inside, the Temple was financed almost exclusively by agencies of the federal government through tax-funded jobs, poverty programs and giveaways. Many members were employed at the Mendocino State Mental Hospital or in the school system or the welfare office, all under the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Under the Department of Justice, there were Temple members in law enforcement, in the grand jury and the district attorney's office. Black members contributed their government checks from the Social Security Administration and the welfare division of HEW. The USDA provided food and the California Highway Patrol provided inexpensive, high- powered police cruisers that Jones purchased at auction and issued to his aides as company cars. Though they removed the CHP emblem from the car doors, they neglected, possibly intentionally, to repaint the familiar "black and whites."
Throughout his career, Jones received millions of dollars from the federal government, millions he used to finance the experiment in Jonestown. In the end, even the tractor that transported the assassins to the site of congressman Ryan's murder was "U.S. government surplus." Had Jones only mastered the system and taken advantage of its bureaucratic inefficiencies, or did he have inside help? A phone call from the Washington D.C. headquarters of a government agency to its state or local office, asking them to cooperate with the Peoples Temple, would have been sufficient for Jones to perpetrate the massive fraud. To this day, no federal agency has ever expressed any remorse or responsibility for financing Jonestown or even any embarrassment at having been duped into doing so.
April 4, 1968 was a turning point. The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. created a void in the Black leadership; a void Jim Jones rushed to fill. As stated, there were few, if any, Blacks in Mendocino County so Jones looked south to the ghettos of Oakland and San Francisco for his victims. Tim Stoen and other trusted aides had already been planted in key government positions in the Bay Area when Jones set out to recruit the Black subjects for the experiment. He held services in San Francisco and Oakland inner-city school auditoriums, churches, meeting halls and theaters attracting as many Black welfare recipients as possible. From the outside, Jones' rainbow family and multiracial Peoples Temple appeared to be the cutting edge of the integration movement but, from the inside, both the old and new Black recruits were segregated from the Caucasian leadership. This obvious inequality would be recognized and recorded only once when, a few years later in 1976, eight Black members would send a letter of resignation to Jim Jones, in which they complained,
You said that the revolutionary focal point at present is in black people.... There is no potential in the white population according to you. Yet, where is the black leadership, where is the black staff and black attitude? Black people are being tapped for money, practically nothing else. How can there be sound trust from black people if there's only white nit-picking staff, hungrily taking advantage to castrate black men? Staff creates so much guilt that it breaks the black spirit of revolution (if the blacks have any). There's no revolutionary teaching taught the way it used to be. At one time you told us to read, yet now staff comes in to steal books from those who have them. All the staff concerns itself with is sex, sex, sex. What about socialism? How does 99 1/2 percent of People's Temple manage to know zero about socialism?Sex was just about the only reward that Jones and his aides received for their efforts. Caucasian aides enjoyed a higher standard of living than did the Black congregation but the Temple never paid in cash, only services and a prolific sex life was the favored remuneration. Sex was a common topic of Temple services as Jones was continually bragging about his superhuman abilities. His female aides gave absurd testimony as to the pleasures of Jones' "divine penis," but his sexual exploits were not confined to women as he had homosexual relationships with many of his male assistants who were then blackmailed into slavery. Jones was so promiscuous as to require an appointment secretary just to schedule his affairs. Patty Cartmell and later Carolyn Layton, who Jones jokingly referred to as his "fucking secretary," would telephone a member to ask, "Father hates to do this but he has this tremendous urge and could you please...?" All of the chosen were Caucasian.
Despite its interracial image, mixed marriages were not permitted in the Temple and there is no evidence to even suggest that Jones or his White aides ever had sex with a black member. There is not a single case of a mulatto child being born to a Temple member.
All sexual relationships had to first be approved by the Temple's Relationship Committee, giving Jones additional control over the congregation that was often denied sex, even between married couples. Members who stepped out of line were often humiliated by requiring them to elaborate on their sexual experiences or strip naked and copulate in front of the entire congregation. Steve Addison, who was accused of having sex without prior approval was once called to the podium and ordered to perform cunnilingus on an overweight woman in the midst of her menstrual period. As Addison dropped to his knees to accept his punishment, Jones shouted, "Piss! Piss!" and the woman urinated in his face. "Throw up! Throw up!" he yelled, and the woman forced her fingers down her throat until she vomited on his head.
Sex was also used to reward and blackmail politicians both in California and later in Guyana where Jones would provide a number of Temple women to government officials who were then shown photographs of their encounter and reminded that if they refused to co-operate Temple their public careers would with the be ruined.
Jones claimed to be the only true heterosexual in the Temple and often called for a show of hands of all homosexuals. If a member did not raise his hand, he would be ridiculed for dishonesty. If he did raise his hand, he ran the risk of being singled out for praise. The subject was impossible to avoid. Many members were forced to sign confessions attesting to homosexuality or child molesting that were later used to blackmail the signatory.
The Peoples Temple was not a religion. Jim Jones did not believe in God who he said was powerless to effect any change on the earth. He claimed the Bible was "dotted through and through with fabrications, inconsistencies and incongruities which insult the normal intelligence of readers." He would throw the Bible on the floor, step on it, tear out the pages and talk about using them for toilet paper. Once he burned a Bible during a service just to show that there would be no reprisal from the "Impotent Sky God." He called it the "Black Book" which may be the only time in his public career that Jones used the word "black" in a derogatory manner as he went so far as to change "blackmail" to "whitemail and "black market" to "white market" so as not to offend his congregation. Temple services had many of the trappings of a church, there was organ music and gospel singing but that is about as far as it went. Jones' sermons were mainly political, taking stories from the newspaper to prove his point that the Blacks were losing their rights as citizens. The Peoples Temple was not a church but a social experiment disguised as a church.
In 1970, Jones' old friend Prime Minister Forbes Burnham left the British Commonwealth, established diplomatic relations with Cuba and so lost all U.S. aid. It was a critical year for Guyana and the prime minister called for help from his old CIA buddy. Jones first flew to Cuba, where he met with Fidel Castro after which he continued on to Georgetown, Guyana for his meeting with Burnham. What was accomplished on this trip is uncertain.
Jones was not the only Temple member who traveled. His fleet of eleven used Greyhound buses carried the congregation on weekly trips to San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles where in a single weekend the Temple might receive as much as twenty thousand dollars in donations. As a show of strength, Jones always took his Redwood Valley congregation on such tours. The buses were said to have been overcrowded, with people riding in the overhead storage racks and down below in the baggage compartment. Members complained that the air conditioners and toilets did not work and that they were driven too long without food or rest. Jones had a special bus with air conditioning, a working bath and a private, bulletproof compartment. Each summer, members were given the opportunity to take a cross-country vacation and many boarded the Temple buses bound for national parks, monuments and other points of interest; sites never seen by these inner-city Blacks. The Temple's advance team arranged to rent auditoriums and leaf-letted the major cities to herald the group's arrival. Jones put on his usual show with its many collections all across the country.
Such a trip was expected to net one to two hundred thousand dollars. The 1973 cross country trip was the most noteworthy. The buses stopped in Washington, D.C. where the Temple called on congressmen and succeeded in getting a description of the Peoples Temple entered in the congressional hearings. But the highlight of the trip was the publicity Jones received when his Temple buses unloaded hundreds of members on the steps of the Capitol to pick up the litter around the grounds. The Washington Post recorded the publicity stunt in their editorial page, dated August 18, 1973 in which was written,
The hands-down winners of any-body's tourist-of-the-year award have got to be the 660 wonderful members of the Peoples Temple... this spirited group of travelers fanned out from their 13 buses and spent about an hour cleaning up the [Capitol] grounds.In addition to the summer vacations and the revival tours, the Temple buses also carried members to the voting polls and anywhere else Jones wanted to demonstrate his power. When a group of reporters in Fresno were tried for refusing to divulge their sources, Jones sent hundreds to rally in support of the "Fresno Four" as he called them. It was ironic that this manipulator of the media would defend the freedom of the press, but irony was his trademark. In 1976, the buses arrived at San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge where members disembarked to stage a demonstration in support of the proposed anti-suicide fences. Over the years, about six hundred people have jumped to their death from the bridge, two-thirds the number who would commit mass suicide in Jonestown; the same people who donated their energies in a public demonstration acknowledging the government's responsibility to help avert suicide.
In spite of all of his questionable and outright illegal activities in private, Jones enjoyed respectable reputation in public. In 1975 he was chosen one of [TAR NOTE: an inside org?] "The 100 Outstanding Clergyman in America" by the Foundation for Religion in American Life. In 1976, the Los Angeles Examiner named him Humanitarian of the Year" but the most impressive title came in January of 1977, when Jones was given the "Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award." He must have had a good laugh about that.
 Klineman, Butler and Conn, p. 73.
 Ibid. pp. 77-78.
 Ibid. p. 84.
 Marshall Kilduff and Ron Javers, The Suicide Cult (New York: Bantam Books, 1978), p. 87.
 Ibid., p. 85.
 James Reston, Jr., Our Father Who Art In Hell: The Life and Death of Jim Jones (New York: Times Books, 1981), p. 245.
End Chapter 5
VI THE "H" FILE HOMICIDES
Jim Jones once boasted to his son-in-law and heir apparent, Michael Cartmell, that the Peoples Temple was shielded from any serious investigation or prosecution simply by the nature of the Temple's activities; activities that were so outrageously bizarre that no one outside the organization would ever believe them. In the six years between 1970 and 1976, Jones ordered the execution of six Temple members in a brutal series of murders that eventually led to the involvement and subsequent death of Leo Ryan; the only U.S. Congressman ever to be assassinated. Nowhere was Jones' security system more apparent or successful than in the "H" file homicides. This story begins in the Temple's top secret file room where detailed dossiers were maintained on everyone who came in contact with the organization. Patty Cartmell, Michael's mother and long-time aide to Jones was the organizational genius in charge of the sophisticated intelligence gathering and intricate filing system that rivaled the latest techniques of the Central Intelligence Agency. Within the files, there was an information envelope on each of the members of the Temple. The contents of the envelopes disappeared when Jones moved his headquarters to San Francisco. All that remains are a few envelope labels, printed forms containing the member's photo, name, address, membership number and other such data, as well as a list of those documents the member had signed. There were five documents in all. The "information sheet" was basically the subject's autobiography. The "financial release" was a living will bequeathing all worldly possessions to the Peoples Temple. The "resignation" was just that, a resignation from the Temple so, if the member was ever implicated in any wrong-doing, Jones could date the document and disassociate himself from the accused. The two remaining documents, the "blank statement" and the "sheet of paper" are the subject of this chapter. Before a member could be promoted to a position of trust within the Temple, Jones required that he or she sign a self-confession statement as a test of loyalty. The three basic confessions, dictated by Jones and signed by the member, attested to child molestation, homosexual acts or conspiracy to assassinate public officials. It wasn't long before the signer realized his confession might be used to blackmail him into Jones' service. This fear helped to blind the subject to the true danger, the "sheet of paper." Jones required his top aides to sign the lower right-hand corner of a blank sheet of paper. It appeared harmless enough in comparison with the self-confession letter, but it was deadly. Once the signed sheet of paper was on file, Jones would manipulate the aide into a situation where he at least appeared to be responsible for a capital crime. Jones would then retrieve that blank statement, type in a confession to that crime and provide the aide with a photocopy. Mere suspicion was never sufficient to warrant an indictment but suspicion along with a signed confession would certainly result in an indictment and conviction. In this manner, Jones was able to blackmail or "whitemail," as he called it, his other wise wavering followers into a life of slavish devotion; for if they ever fell from his good graces, he would provide the authorities with their signed confession to a crime they were already suspected of, and the result would certainly be a prison sentence. This was the Temple's baptism by blackmail. The blackmailed aides would become the Temple hierarchy, the ruling elite and, for the most part, the only survivors of the massacre in Jonestown. Jones called them his "Angels;" an appropriate name as those outside the group assumed it was in reference to Jones' divinity, while those unfortunates inside the group knew it was an allusion to the angel of death. Though 80% of the Temple membership was Black, nearly 100% of the Angels were Caucasian. Their numbers are not known, but by 1978, Jones referred to them as "The One Hundred." Inside each information envelope was the complete life story of the subject, including medical and career history, psychological profile, lists of relatives, associates and friends as well as personal preferences and habits. No agency of the federal government, not even all of them combined, had a more copious intelligence bank than did the Peoples Temple. The data was divided into two basic classifications: "direct" and "indirect." Direct data was any intelligence received firsthand from the subject either voluntarily provided in his signed information sheet, or inadvertently provided in idle conversations with Cartmell's intelligence agents. Indirect data was any intelligence gathered without the subject's knowledge. Patty Cartmell and her assistants were skilled in burglary techniques and much information was gained through illegally entering a subject's home. More predominant, though less spectacular than breaking and entering, was the disabled car routine. Typically, two of Cartmell's female spies would knock on the subject's door, claim their car had broken down and ask to use the telephone. While in the house, they would make mental notes of the surroundings. One would ask to use the bathroom and, while locked inside, photograph the contents of the medicine cabinet. Later, the photo would be used to identify any prescription drugs and the doctor who prescribed them, so that a more detailed medical history could be acquired from the subject's physician. Other indirect data was gathered through surveillance, conversations with neighbors and distant relatives, as well as periodic studies in the contents of a subject's garbage can. In the early morning hours, Cartmell and her team would take garbage that had been set out near the street for removal back to the Temple or a motel room where it was spread out on a long table, closely examined, analyzed and inventoried. Reports were so detailed that it was not sufficient to note, say, an empty box of cookies. Cartmell's spies were expected to indicate the brand name of the cookies, the manufacturer's name and address, the list of ingredients, the price and the retail outlet where the product had been purchased. A typed garbage inventory, titled "indirect-garb " along with any personal correspondence and bills were then filed in the subject's information envelope. Old telephone bills were of particular interest as they provided an accurate accounting of every long-distance phone call the subject had placed in the previous month. On one occasion, Patty Cartmell was arrested for her clandestine intelligence gathering. Cartmell, an obese White woman, was disguised in plain dress and black stage make-up when the police caught her snooping around a house in a Black Los Angeles neighborhood. She later gave this account:
According to Temple aide, Terry Buford:
Jack (Beam) and I were doing a stop/by on a house in Los Angeles. Jack was in the car and I was in the yard. The cops came, and Jack, the yellow-bellied coward, took off, leaving me holding the bag. I was arrested and taken in.... I didn't know what to do so I called Tim [Temple attorney, Tim Stoen] and told him I'd been arrested.
Stoen said that Jim came up with this brilliant idea that Patty should be told to say she was having an affair with a man and had put on this disguise; she was meeting him in a black neighborhood, and she didn't want her husband to find out. Stoen said the story was so incredible that the police believed it and released patty.In addition to the information envelopes on Temple members, Patty Cartmell had amassed a very impressive file on California's politicians and public figures. The subject of one such study was Leo Ryan, whose Temple file was larger than most, as Jones' superiors had expressed particular interest in the career of this aspiring young Assemblyman. In 1968, Cartmell presented her completed file on Ryan to Jones for his review.
Leo J. Ryan was born on May 5, 1925 in Lincoln, Nebraska; the son of a newspaperman from whom he inherited a compelling interest in investigative journalism. After serving in the Navy during World War journalism. Ryan graduated from Creighton University in 1951 with a masters degree in Elizabethan Drama. Like many other navy veterans who first experienced California during the war, Ryan returned to the San Francisco Bay Area where he settled in the small community of South San Francisco and accepted a position teaching English at the local high school. Eventually, he would be appointed principal and superintendent of the South San Francisco High School. His first involvement in politics came in the mid-50's when he campaigned against the McCarthy Era communist witch-hunt and was elected to the city council where he served from 1956 until 1962. His career in municipal government was uneventful. Perhaps city politics was too small an arena for his abilities, but, in any event, Ryan longed for a more important and challenging role in government. He found his opportunity in late 1960 when John Kennedy was elected president.
Ryan arranged for the South San Francisco Marching Band to perform at Kennedy's inauguration ceremony in Washington in early 1961, as token reprentatives of the new president's West Coast supporters. Ryan planned every aspect of the trip with his old friend and drinking buddy, Robert "Sammy" Houston. Sammy Houston, a descendant of the famous Texas general, was an Associated Press photographer whose son, Bob was a student of Ryan's and spokesperson for the high school's marching band. Bob had grown up in the adjacent community of San Bruno where he counted Ryan's children among his playmates who affectionately referred to this intelligent young man as "the professor." Leo Ryan, together with Sammy and Bob Houston and the school band, set out for the scheduled performance in Washington. Hotel rooms were at a premium during the inauguration so Ryan and Sammy Houston shared a room which gave them time together to put the finishing touches on their plan.
On inauguration day, Sammy shot some great photographs. One was of his son shaking hands with President Kennedy -- a memento Bob would cherish until his death in 1976. But the most important photo and, in retrospect, the sole purpose for the trip to Washington, was of Leo Ryan conducting the band as they marched past the reviewing stand and President Kennedy. The following day, through Houston's connections with the Associated Press, the photograph with Ryan in the foreground and Kennedy in the background appeared on the front page of nearly every newspaper in Northern California. Sammy Houston's photo had made Leo Ryan famous overnight. Immediately upon his return to California, Ryan began to campaign for the office of mayor of South San Francisco, a position he was elected to in 1962. Also in 1962, Ryan was elected to the California Assembly. His political career had advanced from city councilman to state assemblyman in a few short months and he owed it all to Sammy Houston. It is important to note, as did Jim Jones in his evaluation of Ryan's file, that the Washington episode was staged from the start. Ryan was the school's principal and the faculty chaperone on the trip, but he had no musical training and no business conducting the band; especially in its brief moment in the limelight. Ryan's expertise lay, not in music, but in theatrics and his theatrics in Washington earned him a seat in the California Assembly.
Ryan's political career depended largely on staged publicity events intended to generate public awareness, support and votes. His colleagues viewed the theatrics as little more than cheap grand-standing but their criticism stemmed, not from distaste of his tactics, but from envy of his success. Ryan was a loner, a self-made man, an individual who rose to political importance without the aid of, or the debt to, an existing power structure. His singular attitude was best described in the inscription on a picture of a sailboat hung in his Sacramento office; ; "I know which way the wind is blowing but I must set my own course." Ryan was a member of the California Assembly and eventually the U.S. Congress, but in a larger sense he never really joined these legislative bodies. He remained an individual who marched to his own tune; something that would further alienate him from his fellow legislators.
Ryan quickly gained a reputation in the California Assembly as a formidable investigator who personally looked into every major issue of the day. Joe Holsinger, Ryan's chief aide, would later recall:
Leo believed that more legislators should go check things out, rather than take someone's word for them. He felt it was his duty to check out the problems of the people he represented.In 1965, following the race riots in the Watts section of Los Angeles, Ryan moved into the home of a local Black family and worked, under an assumed name, as a substitute teacher at the predominantly Black Jefferson High School where he studied, firsthand, the cause of the social unrest. In 1970, when prison reform was a major issue in California, Ryan, again under an assumed name, was transported in handcuffs to the maximum security section of Folsom Prison, where he was interned for a week to study the issue of prison reform from the inside. He later wrote a play about his Folsom Prison experience, entitled "A Small Piece of Sky," but it was never produced. Also in 1970, Ryan was proclaimed "Man of the Year" by the International Wildlife Foundation for his trip to Newfoundland where he chained himself to baby seals to protest their slaughter.
Following each of his adventures, Ryan would receive excellent press coverage that helped keep him in the public eye and in office. Jones, who was also an expert in media manipulation, recognized Ryan's tactics for what they were and found within those tactics his one weakness. Ryan clearly owed his political career to the Houstons and Jones knew that to control the rebel assemblyman he needed only to control Bob Houston, and this he set out to do in 1968.
Patty Cartmell provided Jones with an updated file on Bob Houston. Bob had continued his education at the University of California at Berkeley where he was student director of the school's marching band. He had married and he and his wife Phyllis had two daughters, Patricia and Judy Lynn. Jones surmised that recruiting Bob Houston was an easy matter of simply giving him what he wanted. Since his graduation from Berkeley there was a void in Bob's life, there were no more bands for him to conduct and he had lost his one love, music. Temple recruiters first contacted Phyllis and, when they had generated sufficient interest for her to approach her husband about joining the Peoples Temple, Jim Jones was well prepared. He offered Bob the position of music director of the Temple's very professional band and chorus. Bob accepted. Knowing that he shared his father's interest in photography, Jones also him staff photographer and appointed assistant pastor, just to add to the honor he bestowed upon him. In time, Jones' hold on Bob Houston would increase to a death grip, but it suffices to say that by 1969 Houston was a lifetime member of the Peoples Temple. His dossier was placed in an information envelope and filed under "H." Thus began a masterplan that would require eight years to conclude. A few months later, Jones ordered the first of the "H" file homicides.
VICTIM NUMBER ONE
Maxine Bernice Harpe
Died: March 28, 1970
Hung by the neck
Maxine Harpe grew up in the small Northern California town of Willits where she married her high school sweetheart, had three children and settled down to a quiet life in Talmadge, that is until 1969, when Jim Jones targeted her for assassination. In a little more than a year, Jones and his aides would destroy Maxine's marriage, family, career, and love affair. They would steal her children and her life savings and drive her to the brink of suicide.
Temple strongarm man and Mendocino County Welfare worker, Jim Randolph, initiated a love affair with Maxine intended to break up her marriage and bring her into the congregation. Every relationship pursued by Jim Randolph, or any other Temple member, required the prior approval of the Temple's Relationship Committee and Jim Jones, who not only issued binding judgments on proposed relationships, but also proposed many himself. Maxine quickly fell in love with Randolph; attesting to Jones' ability to pair villain with victim. Spurred by Randolph's encouragement, Maxine left her husband and moved into a Temple communal house with her three children and Temple member Mary Candoo. During this difficult transition period, Maxine was counseled and encouraged by her welfare caseworker, Linda Sharon Amos, a high ranking Temple aide who claimed to have once been a member of Charles Manson 's gang. Amos helped Maxine secure a job as a dental assistant at the Mendocino State Mental Hospital in Talmadge.
Linda Amos and Jim Randolph were only two of the estimated fifty Temple members who had infiltrated government agencies in Mendocino County, but their function in the Welfare Department was one of particular importance to Jim Jones. Together with their colleagues, Amos and Randolph were able to license several Temple operated foster care homes and protect several additional homes that were unlicensed and illegal.
Jones convinced his congregation that their children would have a richer life experience living apart from their parents. Families were disbanded and a the children, who were now eligible for welfare assistance, were placed in Temple foster homes. The children's welfare support checks were signed over to the Temple and provided a substantial portion of Jones' government subsidy. The Temple welfare activities were not restricted to simple fraud; many Black children were taken from the ghettos of San Francisco and Oakland using tactics that bordered on kidnapping.
The illegal use of the Mendocino County Welfare Department appeared to escape the attention of the Department director Dennis Denny. Though it was impossible to ignore the Temple foster care homes and to ignore the the Temple welfare case workers, Denny never seemed to make the connection. Carrie Minkler was one of the few case workers in the Welfare Department who was not a member of the Peoples Temple. Ms. Minkler, now retired, recalls working with Amos, Randolph and other Temple members:
"You didn't open your mouth. You didn't mention the Peoples Temple in our department. Even the walls had ears. There wasn't anything that went on in our office that Jim Jones didn't know the next day...Peoples Temple workers went through other workers' case files. The CIA could have used them. The atmosphere was really tense."It didn't take long to surround Maxine. She had a Temple lover, a Temple house with a Temple roommate, a Temple social worker, a Temple job with Temple co-workers, even the attorney representing her in the divorce case was Temple attorney Tim Stoen. The Temple was also Maxine's religion and recreation. By March of 1970, every aspect of her life depended upon the Peoples Temple as Jim Jones pulled the plug on her life support system.
Three weeks before her death, Maxine received a check for $2,493.81; her share of the divorce settlement. She signed the check over to Randolph, who deposited $2,000.00 in his personal checking account and $493.81 in his savings account, as per Jones' instructions. Once her life savings were safely in Temple hands, everything bad happened to Maxine at once.
Jones ordered Randolph to end his relationship with Maxine and she was heartbroken. She was fired from her job. She had no means of support; Randolph had all her money and wouldn't give it back. She went to Linda Amos for financial assistance from the Welfare Department, but Amos not only denied her request but, in addition, judged her a "mental depressant" and threatened to place her children in a Temple foster care home as she was unfit to be a parent. Her roommate, Mary Candoo, would certainly parrot Amos' accusations.
Maxine realized she was under siege by a well organized attacker and sought help from her attorney, Tim Stoen, but, of course, her protest fell on deaf ears. She then turned to the one man who seemed to be at the center of her problem. She confronted Jones the day before her death. Jones was furious and thoroughly humiliated Maxine in front of Randolph and other Temple members who remember him saying, "Why don't you just kill yourself? Get it over with!.... At least Judas had the guts to kill himself. Others recall Jones predicting, "That bitch (Maxine) is going to die," just one day before she did.
Everywhere she turned, Maxine felt an ever increasing hostility. After the March 27th confrontation with Jones, she was so afraid the Temple would take a more physical approach to their harassment that she made a special request to bring home a houseful of Temple children, whose presence, she hoped, would discourage a physical assault. She was wrong.
On March 28th at 1:30 AM, one of the children spending the night at Maxine's house wandered into the garage to find Maxine dead; hung by an electrical extension cord from the roof rafters. A hastily scribbled suicide note on a torn grocery bag instructed the children to phone the Temple in Redwood Valley and wait in the house until they arrived.
Jim Jones, Jim Randolph, Patty Cartmell and Jack Beam arrived at Maxine's house sometime before dawn. Jones waited outside in the car while the others put on surgical gloves and entered the house to remove any evidence of Maxine's involvement with the People's Temple. They untied the body, lowered it to the garage floor and disrobed it to remove a red prayer cloth that belted the waist. Temple members often wore these blessed prayer cloths in concealed places on their person. The body was then redressed and rehung, carefully re-staging the scene for the police investigator. The aides then ransacked the house to locate and remove anything that might associate Maxine with the Temple. They completed their work at approximately 8:30 AM, instructed the children to phone the police, and left.
Jones was safe in his Redwood Valley parsonage at 8:57 AM when Deputy Sheriff-Coroner, Bruce Cochran, arrived at the death scene in Talmadge. Twenty minutes later, Randolph, Cartmell and Beam returned to the house and informed Deputy Cochran that the children had phoned them but that they really didn't know why as they had never met the dead woman. Cartmell convinced Deputy Cochran that she should remove the children from such a gruesome scene, and consequently, he never got the opportunity to question the only eyewitnesses. One of the children, nine year old Tommy Ijames, would later recall the event:
The children called the church before they called the police, and they came very early in the morning. They came in there and took all the pictures of Jim Jones out...(prayer) cloths they took from her, pulled her down off the (rafter) and took them off her waist, anything that had to do with the church... Jim (Jones), he stayed in the car and didn't come out... They pulled her down and they took the clothes off her... They were taking all the... little pamphlets of Jim Jones, and then (after the coroner arrived) they acted like they didn't know her...."The Temple death squad had left Maxine's house twenty minutes before the coroner arrived and returned just twenty minutes after he arrived. They allowed him enough time to assume that he was the first adult on the scene, but not enough time to question the children, who were quickly transported away. Such impeccable timing was typical of Temple operations. Like the other agencies in Mendocino County, Jones had spies in the Sheriff's office who informed him of their every move.
Deputy Cochran's subsequent investigation proceeded exactly as Jones had planned. It was Cochran's job to be suspicious and he was. There was the unusual placement of a trunk under Maxine's feet and the unexplained presence of children and adults, all of whom were members of the Peoples Temple. But eventually his investigation was to center on Maxine's financial transactions just prior to her death. Cochran contacted Jim Randolph's boss, Welfare Director, Dennis Denny, questioning the legality of a welfare worker depositing a welfare recipient' check in his personal account; especially when that same welfare worker was present at the scene of the recipient's apparent suicide just three weeks later.
Denny defended Randolph's actions and assured Cochran that there was no reason to suspect foul play or improper conduct, but Cochran was not satisfied. He pressured Randolph for a deposition regarding his role in Maxine's finances and reluctantly he complied. In a sworn statement, Randolph told the police that a few weeks after receiving the money, he transferred $2,000.00from his savings account to Temple treasurer, Eva Pugh, to set up a trust fund for Maxine's children. He held the remaining $493.81 until three days after Maxine's death when he added that to the fund as well. If Randolph's statement is to be believed it would seem that he helped establish a fund for Maxine's children before her death. Randolph completed the deposition but refused to sign it until Assistant District Attorney and Peoples Temple attorney Tim Stoen had the opportunity to review the statement. Randolph stalled, Stoen stalled, and the statement was never signed.
It was Tim Stoen who finally convinced Cochran to drop the investigation when he informed him that he (Stoen) was co-trustee of the children's fund, along with, of all people, Cochran's boss, Sheriff Reno Bartolmei. Also, to disguise their true involvement, the Peoples Temple had contributed an additional $470.00 to the fund, that together with the initial money and the accumulated bank interest, totaled $3,000.00 for the three children. Linda Amos, Maxine's welfare case worker, buttressed Stoen's statements with her volunteered testimony as to Maxine's depressed state of mind just prior to what certainly must have been her suicide. Cochran's investigation quickly lost momentum. Maxine's death was declared a suicide. The case was closed and, despite future pleas from ex-Temple members and the press, it was never reopened.
Richard Taylor, a local Baptist minister who knew Maxine Harpe, was not satisfied with the superficial investigation into what he believed as murder. Aware that the Temple controlled most of Mendocino County, Taylor presented his arguments in a long letter he sent to the state attorney general's office in which he asked the state to investigate Jim Jones' role in Maxine Harpe's death. Taylor was invited to present his evidence to a deputy in the attorney general's office but when he appeared to testify in Sacramento, his notes on Jones were confiscated and he was told that there would be no investigation due to "insufficient evidence."
Immediately upon his return to Ukiah, Taylor and his wife were deluged with threatening phone calls that they believed "originated from the People's Temple." Intimidated and frightened, the minister dropped all attempts to prove that Jim Jones had ordered Maxine Harpe's death.
Randolph may have avoided signing a statement for the police but he did not avoid signing a blank statement for Jim Jones. It wasn't long before he realized his mistake when Jones presented him with a copy of his previously signed blank statement which was now a typed confession to the murder of Maxine Harpe. Only then did he understand why Jones had instructed him to deposit Maxine's money in his personal bank account and why he insisted Randolph be present at the scene of the crime. The police already suspected him, and their suspicion, along with the signed confession, would certainly convict him of murder; especially since the foreman of the Mendocino Grand Jury, who would bring down the indictment, was none other than Jim Jones. Randolph was promoted to the Angels and his only way out was a lifetime sentence in prison. To further implicate him in Maxine's death, Jones called him in front of a closed meeting of the Temple's Planning Commission and, with a dozen witnesses present, he accused Randolph of killing Maxine. He shouted, "You know you did it (killed Maxine)!" But for all of Jones's badgering, Randolph said nothing in his own defense.
Rumors of the Temple's involvement in the death of Maxine Harpe continued to circulate in the press. Two and a half years later, Lester Kinsolving penned a series of articles in the San Francisco Examiner, in which he accused Temple attorney Tim Stoen of wrongdoing in his counseling of Maxine just prior to her alleged suicide. Stoen refuted the charges in a statement that appeared in the Ukiah Daily Journal, dated September 21, 1972, in which he said:
"The woman referred to (who was not, incidentally, a member of my church) was somebody I did not know, had never talked with, and certainly had never counseled."Stoen could not have forgotten that he represented Maxine in her divorce or that he was a custodian of the fund for her children or was instrumental in suppressing the coroner's investigation into her death. He must have felt extremely threatened to publicly report such a blatant, bold-faced lie.
Jones profited from Maxine's death in several ways. He gained a new Angel; a competent, intelligent slave, Jim Randolph. He received the $3,000.00 trust fund and the three children who, following their mother's funeral, were placed in Temple foster homes and enrolled in the welfare system. Their welfare support checks were signed over to the Temple that profited at least $10,000.00 from overcharging the welfare system and under-caring for the children.
In 1977, a special prosecution unit of the San Francisco District Attorney's Office, looking into allegations of illegal activities in the Peoples Temple, cited what their subsequent report termed "Welfare Diversion," but rather than pursue the investigation, the DA's office referred the matter to the city's Department of Social Services and the City Comptroller's Office with the recommendation that any evidence that surfaced should be submitted to the DA's welfare fraud expert, Don Didler. Didler, following the lead of Mendocino County's Welfare Director, Dennis Denny, did absolutely nothing. Together, Didler and Denny were very effective in protecting the Temple's federal welfare subsidy.
In retrospect, Maxine Harpe's story was a study in microcosm of the events that would occur some eight years later in Jonestown, Guyana. In both cases, the victims were systematically stripped of all self-esteem and lured into a total dependence on Jim Jones, who, at the proper time, denied them everything. Suicide appeared to be the best, if not the only, alternative. It will never be known whether Maxine's death was a suicide or a murder. She may or may not have actually wrapped the wire around her neck, just as the residents of Jonestown may or may not have voluntarily taken poison; regardless, there is no doubt that Jim Jones killed them all.
The Maxine Harpe death is but one of a half-dozen unsolved killings connected to People's Temple during its California phase.
In the final analysis, the most important aspect of Maxine's death was the reason Jones had singled her out for assassination in the first place. The episode played an important part in his master plan, as Maxine Harpe's identification envelope was the first in the Peoples Temple "H" file.
VICTIM NUMBER TWO
Died: November 8, 1973
Shot to death during an argument
Rory Hithe was member of the Peoples Temple and an official of the Western Addition Project Area Committee; a neighborhood action group in a section of San Francisco that Jim Jones had targeted for political infiltration and control. During a heated argument about San Francisco's anti-poverty politics, Rory Hithe was shot and killed by Temple guard Chris Lewis, in full view of a room of witnesses; most of whom were also members of the Peoples Temple.
Jim Jones had ordered Lewis to kill Rory Hithe, whose death, like Maxine Harpe's, was a Peoples Temple affair. The motive for the killing is unclear. It has been suggested that Hithe's death resulted from a conflict with Jones over Western Addition neighborhood politics, but this theory does not take into account that, at the time, Jones was powerful enough to replace Hithe on the Committee with another follower who was in closer agreement. Murder for neighborhood politics was not warranted. There had to be another motive. In November of 1973, Rory Hithe's Temple information envelope was the next dossier filed under "H."
Perhaps more interesting than the story of Rory Hithe, is the story of his assassin, Chris Lewis. There is no doubt that Lewis killed Hithe there is only the question of whether or not it was in self-defense. The fact that a loaded gun was within reach during the argument, in itself suggests premeditation. Lewis was arrested and charged with murder and assault. Hithe's sister, also a Temple member, was wounded in the attack, hence the assault charge.
Chris Lewis joined the Peoples Temple in 1969 after Jones allegedly cured him of heroin addiction. He was a tough, ghetto-wise brawler who had served time in prison for burglary and grand theft. His primary function in the Temple was to train Cartmell's agents in techniques of breaking and entering and to act as liaison with San Francisco's underworld fencing operations. Jones encouraged his congregation to donate not only their property and money, but also their personal possessions to the Temple, which needed to liquidate the furniture, clothing and jewelry they acquired. Throughout their history, the Temple operated no less than six thrift shops, first in Ukiah, then in San Francisco and eventually in Guyana. The Temple stores were very profitable. The clerks were volunteers, the merchandise was donated and the business was a tax exempt charity. Nearly every dollar taken in was pure profit. But the stores could not sell all the items the Temple acquired. A $10,000 diamond ring, for example, not only looks out of place in the window of a thrift shop and would probably never sell, it might raise questions as to its origin Also many of the donated items had been previously stolen and might be listed on police hot sheets. An expensive typewriter, with the serial numbers ground away, could not be offered to the public. Cartmell's agents conducted many burglaries, primarily intended to gather information, but, on occasion, they would steal an expensive item just to disguise the true nature of the break-in. All of this questionable merchandise had to be liquidated and fencing was the most expedient alternative. With his underworld connections, Chris Lewis was just the man for the job.
Jones called a special meeting of the Temple Planning Commission to discuss Lewis' arrest. Witnesses recall him saying:
I have always allowed Chris certain latitude in his actions and his living situation, because he has contacts that are very helpful in some areas of my work, areas that few of you are aware of. I cannot allow him to go to jail. We need to maintain his contacts. And more important, I do not fully trust Chris. If he were left in jail it is very probable that he would tell everything he knows about our group. His testimony would be harmful to our welfare. It is imperative that we keep him out of jail at all costs.Jim Jones and his attorney, Tim Stoen, immediately went to work on Lewis' defense. Jones paid the $20,000 fee to hire famed San Francisco criminal lawyer James Martin MacInnis to represent Lewis. He later told the Planning Commission that the total cost for defending Lewis was $36,000. Perhaps he was exaggerating or perhaps he used the extra money to buy the court. In any event, Lewis was acquitted of all charges on the grounds that he had killed Rory Hithe in self-defense.
Lewis was released from jail but was not free, as he soon found out when Jones presented him with his signed blank statement that now read as a confession to murder and perjury. Once blackmailed, the newest member of the Angels of Death could then be trusted and Jones appointed Lewis to his elite staff of personal bodyguards.
Jones informed him that he had discovered, through his connections with the Mafia in San Francisco, that there was an open contract out on Lewis's life. If this was true, it was probably a result of a Temple activity as Lewis worked exclusively for Jim Jones. Jones hid Lewis and his wife, Dorothy, in a Redwood Valley trailer owned by Temple photographer Elmer Mertle and his wife, Deanna (a.k.a. Al and Jeannie Mills). After only one month in the trailer, Lewis complained to Jones that, "The country life may be okay for some folks, but for a city dude like me it's worse than prison." Jones then moved the Lewises out of California until it was safe for Chris to return to his duties in San Francisco.
Lewis was always considered to be one of Jones' favorite aides but, on one occasion, he was called in front of the Planning Commission in Redwood Valley and reprimanded for an incident with the San Francisco police. Jones said:
I understand that you were picked up by a policeman for speeding, and you later bragged to Gene [presumably Temple attorney, Eugene Chaikin] that you used a phony name on the ticket. What are you trying to do to this church, Chris?Lewis defended himself:
It's true that I used a phony name. In some of the work I do in San Francisco, it's necessary for me to use different names, but they're all legal. I go to the Driver's License Bureau and make a statement that my real name is Chris Lewis but I am using a different name, and they issue me a driver's license with the name I choose. It's very legitimate, and can't get me or the church into difficulty.
In spite of his eloquent defense, Jones punished Lewis by ordering him to disrobe in front of the congregation and swim an unreported, but presumably punishing, number of laps in the Temple's indoor swimming pool.
In late 1977, Lewis once again got into trouble with the authorities when a San Francisco policeman stopped his car on a traffic violation and discovered a loaded handgun under his front seat. Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is illegal, and according to his last attorney, Steve Alkind, Lewis faced an almost certain jail term. While out on bail, Lewis and his wife traveled to Guyana to seek Jones' help in raising money for his defense.
The Lewises were received as long-lost friends in Guyana. Jones assured them that, when the need arose, he would provide the capital that would, once again, pay for Chris' acquittal. But in truth, Jones had no intention of helping Lewis again. Jonestown and the Peoples Temple were scheduled for destruction in less than a year and, though Lewis was still valuable to Jones, his usefulness would soon be outlived, and did not warrant an additional investment. Lewis may have sensed this as he did not want to leave the jungle sanctuary. Jones had to convince him that it was in everyone's best interest that he return to San Francisco and face the charges. As a last resort, Jones literally pushed the Lewises out of Jonestown by hosting a farewell party in their honor. It was a gala banquet with music and dancing, and the following morning, after everyone had said their goodbyes, the Lewises felt compelled to return to San Francisco where Chris worked harder than ever, as Jones had promised him that income he generated for the Temple would help finance his defense.
Eventually, Lewis needed to pay his attorney, so in early December, he radioed Jonestown for the money. He was told that Jones was not available at the moment, but would return his call as soon as possible. Jones never radioed back. Lewis tried again and again, but each time he failed to contact his patron.
On December 10, 1977, just a few days after his last radio message to Jonestown, Chris Lewis was murdered outside the Temple's thrift shop in the Hunter's Point section of San Francisco. Two gunmen simultaneously fired two shots each into Lewis's back and ran. The police found Lewis dead with four holes in his back and $1,000 cash in his pocket. The gunmen were never identified and the murder remains unsolved.
When news of Lewis's death reached Jonestown, Jones staged quite a show of grief. He blamed the enemies of the Peoples Temple and went so far as to circulate rumors that he had a difficult time restraining Lewis's Temple friends from taking revenge on the outsiders who had murdered him. While Jones shed his crocodile tears, his wife, Marceline, was using Lewis's death to threaten Wade and Mabel Medlock,, two uncooperative Temple members. The Medlocks, an elderly Black couple, had signed their Los Angeles properties over to the Temple but they refused repeated requests that they move to Guyana. Two weeks after Lewis was murdered, Marceline Jones ordered the Medlocks to move to Jonestown and once again they refused. Marceline responded, "What happened to Chris Lewis will happen to You. The threat was repeated a few days later in a phone call from Temple assistant pastor, Hugh Fortsyn, who warned, "You know what happened to Chris Lewis? You better watch it."
On May 25, 1978, the Medlocks filed a formal complaint with the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office, charging the Peoples Temple with extorting $135,000 worth of real estate from them. They insisted that they had signed the papers under duress in the presence of Jim Jones and Temple guard, Jim McElvane. They also reported hearing a rumor that it was Jim McElvane and Jim Crokes who had murdered Chris Lewis. There is no indication that the police even tried to question McElvane, Crokes or anyone else in the Temple regarding Lewis's death.
Jim Jones had previously perfected the "two man assassination technique." The two assassins of Chris Lewis had, on the count of three, both fired two bullets so that neither man could ever be certain which one fired the fatal shot -- they were equally responsible. As they later discovered, Jim Jones could then blackmail two new Angels for one murder. In this case, two Jims for one crime.
The story of Chris Lewis took place as a direct or indirect result of one incident, the killing of Rory Hithe; a murder without apparent motive until one considers the Temple's "H" file.
VICTIM NUMBER THREE
Died: July 16, 1974
Congestive Heart Failure
Truth Hart had traded all her worldly possessions for the right to live out her later years in Heaven with God. "Heaven" was the communal estate of the Peace Mission in Philadelphia. "God" was the Black preacher, George Baker, who was self-ordained "Father Divine" in 1919. Father Divine had become one of the foremost authorities on not only shepherding a Negro flock, but on shearing them as well. Through extortion, he was able to build his Peace Mission into a multi-million dollar business. His contributions to the science of mind control may well earn Father Divine a place in history as the "Father of the Twentieth Century Cult Figures in America."
Starting in the late 1950's, Jones made periodic pilgrimages to Philadelphia to seek the advice of his mentor in building a Negro church empire. In 1965, as Jones prepared to move to California, much to the surprise of the Peace Mission followers, Father Divine died. Jones seized the opportunity to steal as many sheep from the mission flock as possible. Temple workers began an intense letter-writing campaign, intended to convince the Peace Missioners that Jim Jones had inherited their deceased leader's divinity. Jones made several attempts to persuade Divine's widow - an attractive blue-eyed blonde in her late thirties - to name him heir to the Peace Mission's throne, but Mother Divine considered Jones' request an insult to her late husband's memory. She would not be moved.
Most of Divine's followers were elderly Black women. Though they may have had a moderate income from Social Security, financially speaking, their inclusion in the Peoples Temple would be more of a liability than an asset. They did offer Jones something he needed; Black bodies without a will of their own. In July of 1971, Jones and two hundred and sixty Temple members arrived at the Peace Mission's headquarters in Philadelphia in a determined effort to convert the congregation. Temple aide Grace Grech Stoen later recalled her role in canvassing the Mission's neighborhood with an open invitation to anyone in range of her loudspeaker:
...I was really good, too... We went around to the Divine Mission from one of their churches or hotels and gave a speech saying, 'If you want to go, the busses will be leaving at such-and-such a time,' and talking about Jim Jones's work and stuff like that.The Temple assault team had limited success in convincing the Peace Missioners to board the Temple busses for their new "heaven" in California. At least fifteen new recruits did accept the invitation and among them were Truth Hart and her friend, Mary Love.
As outlined elsewhere, one of Jones' life goals was to perfect techniques of assassination that mimicked disease or natural cause. (His and the CIA's) two main areas of study were induced cancer and induced t heart failure.
Truth Hart would fall victim to both. Truth was received with some degree of importance in Redwood Valley as Jones assigned her to live in the luxurious showplace home of attorney Tim Stoen and his wife, Grace who later recalled Truth as, "a little weird woman" who would get especially excited about certain foods. "Food was very precious to her."
Soon after her arrival at the Stoen's house, Truth contracted intestinal cancer, a disease that even the medical novice can see might have been a direct result of something she had eaten, or, in Truth's case, something she had been given to eat. Once the cancer was confirmed, Truth was cured, not by the faith healing powers of Jim Jones, but by surgery. After the operattion she was assigned to Birdie Marable's rest operation, home; a Temple operated facility in Ukiah where she fully recovered only to succumb to the second half of the experiment.
Jones asked Temple nurse Faith Freestone Worley if there was a drug that could induce a fatal heart attack. Faith identified Phytonadione, the generic name for vitamin K1, commonly referred to by its trade name, Mephyton. Phytonadione is used to treat a deficiency of Prothrombin; a natural chemical that permits the blood to clot. An overdose might produce blood clots that would eventually lodge in the heart and trigger a massive coronary; but there were problems. The drug does not accumulate in the body so one massive dosage was necessary. Also, it had only been effective in killing subjects with pre-existing heart conditions; healthy subjects often survived the ordeal.
Faith was ordered to develop a catalyst that, when added to Phytonadione, would produce a pulmonary embolism pill (or "PEP," as they code named it), that would have a 100% kill rate. With his extensive medical knowledge and reference resources, Jones certainly did not need Faith to develop the PEP, but her involvement was calculated to set her up for blackmail. During one closed meeting on the subject, Jones allowed Faith to see him write "Phytonadione" and "Truth Hart" on a small slip of paper before he dramatically burned it. She was also allowed to overhear a rumor that the drug she had recommended was being given to Truth without her knowledge. Faith soon realized that she was being implicated in a plot to kill Truth Hart. Truth Hart was deeply religious and venerated the Bible. Jones used her faith to alienate her to the point where she wanted to leave the Temple. He would single her out and preface the profanity, obscenity and blasphemy in his sermons with: "Close your ears, Truth, here comes another one." Truth's only response was; "I don't see how you can bring such terrible things out of your mouth." What begins as innocent teasing, escalated to a full scale attack. Jones succeeded in making Truth feel so uncomfortable that she expressed a desire to leave the Temple. It was "H" file victims express their important that the discontent with the Temple just prior to their death as Jones would later use the deaths as an example to the congregation of what would happen to them if they also decided to leave the Peoples Temple and the protection of the "Father." A few days before Truth's death, Faith Worley, Sally Stapleton and other aides heard Jones predict: "That woman (Truth) will die soon.
Birdie Marable, entrusted with the care of Truth's life, presented an obstacle to her death. The Temple's fleet of Greyhound busses were about to depart on their annual cross-country trip and Jones insisted that Birdie join the vacation party. At first she declined but later she accepted when Jones and others convinced her that she needed a vacation and that everything would be fine at the rest home, as Mary Love would assume responsibilities in her absence.
On the evening of July 15th, 1974, Mary Love treated her old friend, Truth, to a condemned prisoner's last meal; an exquisite gourmet dinner laced with a massive dosage of PEP. Mary monitored Truth's condition throughout the night. Come morning, Truth was very weak but still alive. The PEP had not been as effective as Jones had hoped. Mary had been well prepared with a contingency plan. She started tormenting Truth; pinching her and forcing her to take alternately hot and cold baths to put an undue strain on her heart. She then placed her back in bed, gave her a final pill, and Truth Hart, age 66, died immediately.
Temple nurse Judith Ijames reported the death at 11 AM on July 16th. Mary Love was quick to point out to the investigating coroner that Truth had died of a heart attack. She also reported that she had been concerned about Truth's deteriorating condition and was phoning a local physician when she heard Truth call out. Mary then dropped the phone and ran to her room, but was too late; Truth Hart had died. An autopsy was performed but no tests were made for toxins in Truth's stomach or bloodstream. Based upon the autopsy report and Mary Love's statements, the coroner determined the cause of death was "congestive heart failure due to rheumatic heart disease." The death certificate was signed by Sheriff Reno Bartolmei, the same man listed as custodian of the fund for Maxine Harpe's children.
Birdie Marable was informed of Truth's death during her bus trip. She was so upset at the news that she phoned Jim Jones, who would only say, It's better this way, Birdie." The Temple bus was Birdie's only way back to California so she remained with the tour, but immediately upon her return she resigned from the Temple and her position at the rest home to begin a campaign to expose the Temple's mistreatment of senior citizens placed in their care. She reported several incriminating incidents to the Ukiah Daily Journal but, like everything else in Mendocino County, Jones controlled the press and Temple spies who worked at the newspaper suppressed Birdie's story.
Birdie Marable was not the only one who threatened to incriminate the Temple in Truth Hart's death. Janie Brown and Ella Mae Hoskins, two elderly residents of Birdie's rest home, had actually witnessed the events of July 16th. At first they were afraid to speak out, lest they suffer the fate of their friend, but six months later, Janie Brown (the braver of the two) could no longer remain silent. During an open Temple meeting, Jones warned his congregation that what happened to Truth would happen to them if they wanted to leave the Temple. Janie, in a fit of anger, stood up and shouted at the pulpit, "I don't care what anybody says about Truth Hart, I know what really happened. A few days later, on January 29, 1975, Janie Brown died. Her death was not reported to the authorities. Neither the sheriff nor the coroner signed the death certificate. No cause of death was listed. The Temple would continue to collect Janie Brown's Welfare and Social Security benefits for years to come.
Ella Mae Hoskins remained silent until October 14, 1975, when Birdie Marable convinced her to make a statement to the police to document what she had witnessed. The sheriff's department refused to take Ella Mae's statement but finally gave in five weeks later when Birdie and others staged a protest demonstration outside the sheriff's office demanding that action be taken. Ella Mae swore in an interview with investigator Jan Kespohl on November 21, 1975, that on the morning in question, Mary Love (who had since changed her name to Mary Black.)
...was pinching Truth and hurting her. She made Truth get up and take a bath and Truth was awful sick. Then Mary Black gave Truth a pill, and I was standing at the doorway watching. She then gave Truth some water to drink and went back into the kitchen, and Truth was dead before Mary got back into the kitchen.
Despite the rather incriminating evidence, the sheriff's department refused to reopen the investigation into Truth Hart's death. No one, not even Mary Black, was questioned. As far as the sheriff was concerned, the case was closed and regardless of any new evidence, the case would remain closed.
In spite of her open criticism of the Peoples Temple and her inevitable inclusion in the Temple's "H" file, Ella Mae Hoskins survived. She even survived the mass death in Jonestown, as Jones never invited her to move to Guyana. Following the carnage, Ella Mae was interviewed by Doug Wead, contributing author of People's Temple - People's Tomb, who asked her about Truth's death, "Was this just a family legend that grew with time or were the residents of the home immediately suspicious of the death?" Ella Mae, then over eighty years old, responded in a clear voice, "We all believed it was murder immediately!"
In the final analysis, Jones had been very selective in casting the characters in this stage play. Truth Hart was the perfect guinea pig for his experiments with the Pulmonary Embolism Pill. She had no next of kin, no one to mourn her passing or claim her body. Not even Jones, who had spent much time and money to recruit, relocate and support Truth in life, would have anything to do with her in death. She was buried, at the county's expense, in potter's field and quickly forgotten by all but a few. Of course, Jones blackmailed Faith Worley and Mary Love, presenting them with a photocopy of their signed confessions to the murder of Truth Hart. Faith, who could now be trusted, was promoted into the ranks of the Angels. For the duration, she was a top aide, Jones' personal nurse, and the Temple's expert on poisons. Four years and four months later, Faith was once again called upon to lend her expertise to the cause when Jones ordered her to help Dr. Larry Schacht prepare and distribute the Fla-Vor-Aid cyanide Valium mixture that killed most of the nine hundred victims in Jonestown. The first to form a line in front of Faith and her vat of poison were the mothers holding babies. Faith used squeeze bottles to squirt the poison directly down the infants' throats so they could not spit out the bitter tasting potion. The next in line were the adults who volunteered to die. Faith handed each a paper cup of death. Many residents resisted only to be wrestled to the ground and dragged, kicking and screaming, to the feet of Faith who injected them with a hypodermic needle. Others tried to run but were shot by the outer ring of guards surrounding the pavilion, and were carried, some dead, some half-dead, to Faith, who injected them as well. By legal definition, Faith Worley murdered most of the Jonestown victims. The guards were the only accomplices and Jones, who, at the time was broadcasting encouraging remarks on the public address system, might not have even been prosecuted. Faith murdered Jonestown. Her body was never accurately identified in the aftermath, her passport was not among those found there. Faith Worley's fate has yet to be determined.
Jones was also very clever to have selected Mary Love as a co-assassin. If something had gone wrong, if the police believed Ella Mae Hoskin's statement, Jones could always have taken the position that Mary Love did kill Truth, but that it stemmed from a long-term animosity that had its roots in the Peace Mission in Philadelphia. When Mary was presented with a copy of her signed confession, she attempted to outwit Jones by changing her name from Mary Love to Mary Black. She discovered, as did others who tried a similar defense, that this tactic simply did not work. She was blackmailed for life.
There was another excellent rationale for selecting the major characters of this play, as will be evident later in this chapter, but despite the apparently logical casting, it is extremely uncanny that Grace, Faith and Love killed Truth.
VICTIM NUMBER FOUR
John William Head
Died: October 19, 1975
Multiple head lacerations suffered in a fall
John Head was a twenty-two year old resident of Redwood Valley whose encounter with the Peoples Temple was both short and sad. John was being treated for depression by the Temple staff at the Mendocino State Hospital in Talmadge, a few miles south of Redwood Valley. It may have been an administrator, a physician, a nurse, a dentist, a barber or even a cleaning woman who first befriended John; it does not matter. Somehow his life was condensed into a manila envelope and presented to Jim Jones.
John told his new Temple friend that he had recently received a $10,000 insurance settlement from a motorcycle accident in which he was the innocent victim. His new friend convinced John to use the money to invest in silver. John purchased $10,000 worth of silver bullion from the Shamaz Trading Company in Ukiah and stored his "nest egg" in safety deposit boxes at the local branch of the Bank of America. If it were not for John's silver, he might be alive today.
His new friend also persuaded John to quit his job at a masonite factory in Ukiah. After several months of unemployment, John was faced with the reality that he needed to liquidate some of his silver nest egg to support himself. He was exactly where Jim Jones wanted him to be -- everything was precisely on schedule.
Harold Cordell was a charter member of the Peoples Temple, having joined forces with Jim Jones in 1953. He was a high ranking Temple guard and strongarm man who chauffeured Jones in his bulletproof bus. He was also a volunteer deputy sheriff and had been issued a concealed weapons permit by Sheriff Reno Bartolmei. Cordell was a mean, tough, dangerous man who had very little trouble controlling John Head.
On September 27th, 1975, Cordell and an unidentified Temple guard, escorted the heavily sedated John Head arm-in-arm into the Bank of America to withdraw his silver. Cordell had persuaded John that since he needed to liquidate his nest egg that it was wiser to donate the bullion to the Temple, that in turn would consider him a member in good standing and provide all his needs for life. The Temple also offered a sense of purpose and belonging that was lacking in John's life at the time. On September 28th, John informed his parents that he had joined the Peoples Temple and had been assigned to their Los Angeles facility. Ignoring his mother's objections, John left the following day for Los Angeles. He would never see his family again.
On October 18th, John placed a collect call to a former neighbor in Redwood Valley from the pay phone across the street from the Los Angeles Temple. He explained that he was unhappy in the Temple and wanted to leave, but was too embarrassed to admit his mistake to his family. The neighbor offered John a place in his home but John said he had no money for the trip to Redwood Valley and besides, "they" would not let him leave.
On October 19, 1975, at 11:15 AM, three weeks after John had donated his life's savings to Jim Jones, he died of multiple head wounds suffered when he was thrown from the roof of a three-story warehouse at 212 North Vignes Street in Los Angeles. Allegedly, John's head hit the pavement with such force that he literally bounced twenty feet in the air. He died instantly.
The police and the coroner treated John's death as a routine suicide. His eyeglasses and footprints were found on the roof above his body and, with his history of mental depression, the authorities considered John a typical "jumper." Case closed.
The autopsy report revealed the presence of alcohol and phenobarbital in John's bloodstream. This, in itself, is a deadly combination. According to his family, John neither drank nor had a prescription for phenobarbitol and since he depended totally on the Temple for his needs, they must have given him the drugs.
John's parents will never accept that their son committed suicide. According to his mother, Ruth Head, "We don't think he did this on his own and nobody that knew him thinks that." Maternal instincts aside, Mrs. Head presented the Los Angeles police with hard evidence to support her contention that her son had been murdered by the Peoples Temple. There was the question of the $10,000 donation just three weeks earlier and the phone call just the day before. If they wouldn't let John leave, as he had told his former neighbor, then how could he have slipped away that fatal Sunday morning? Why did he walk the four miles from the Temple to the deserted warehouse district of North Vignes Street? These questions were never addressed by the police. Perhaps the police ignored the questionable circumstances surrounding John's death because the most incriminating evidence pointed to their own involvement. The initial police report listed John Head as jumping from a bridge over the Los Angeles River between First and Temple Streets. How could the police have accurately identified John and falsely identified the scene of his death by several city blocks? And what irony in their mistake, First and Temple!
Jones was wise to have John Head killed in Los Angeles, several hundred miles from his family in Redwood Valley. The Heads found communications with the L.A.P.D. difficult, if not impossible. One year later, their complaints were heard by the district attorney's office of San Francisco, who, in their subsequent report on the criminal activities of the Peoples Temple, stated: "One alleged victim, John William Head, died in Los Angeles, and the complaining witness, Head's mother, was referred to Los Angeles authorities." The coroner's inquest that followed ignored the evidence of Temple involvement and merely confirmed the original findings that John Head committed suicide. The case was closed again.
A signature of Jim Jones' work was the consistently logical planning of his operations that, once understood, can be easily anticipated. Though there are no eyewitness accounts of the events of October 19th, it is logical to assume that this is what really happened:
Harold Cordell was in town for the day, having driven the bulletproof Greyhound bus that carried Jones and his top aides to the Sunday morning services at the Los Angeles Temple. While Jones was preaching to his Los Angeles congregation, Cordell and the unidentified co-assassin walked the heavily drugged John Head to the edge of the warehouse roof just as they had walked him into the Bank of America three weeks earlier. Each man grabbed an arm and a leg, and, on the count of three, threw John, head first, over the edge. Then, as Jones had instructed, they phoned the L.A.P.D. to report the suicide at First and Temple streets. It is possible that Jones had planned the incident at the First and Temple Street bridge but, when the time came there were bystanders at the bridge and the trio walked up North Vignes Street to find a less conspicuous location. But, more than likely, the First and Temple Street report can be attributed to Jones' sadistic and quite consistent sense of humor. The assassins thought it was funny, they laughed at the irony of it all, that is, until Jones presented them with their signed confessions to the murder of John Head, and reminded them that their call to the L.A.P.D. had undoubtedly been recorded and a voice print comparison plus the signed confessions would certainly send them to prison for the rest of their lives. Two additional Angels were then baptized into the ranks of the blackmailed.
Following Head's death, Cordell was promoted into the inner circle of to top Temple aides. Since he traveled everywhere with Jones, he was assigned as one of the several cosmetic doubles who impersonated the Reverend in situations he considered to be potentially dangerous. Cordell went on to complete his twenty-five year association with Jim Jones by playing a significant role in the final hours of Jonestown. He was among the so called "Jonestown defectors" who accepted Congressman Ryan's offer of safe passage back to the United States. Among the sixteen defectors who boarded the dump truck with Ryan for his fatal trip to Port Kaituma airstrip were true defectors as well as planted Temple spies like Cordell, Larry Layton and Patty Parks whose job was to insure that the targeted victims were killed.
The first shots were fired low, intended to down but not to kill. Patty Parks was killed only because she was bent over when the shooting started, apparently a mistake. Cordell was so close to the action that Park's brains splattered in his lap, yet he survived the ordeal without a scratch. He was lucky because he was on the winning side of the assault at the airstrip that was intended to kill Ryan and others but spare the loyal Temple members. Harold Cordell had done his duty and he was spared as were most of his family like his son Mark, who was in Georgetown at the time with Jones' sons, Jimmy, Tim and Stephan, for a conveniently scheduled basketball tournament with the Guyanese national team.
According to Temple aide, Annie Moore, Jones bragged to his Angels about killing John Head but it was never clear to her whether he took credit for predicting or perpetuating the murder. Jones did have good cause to be proud of the operation, as it netted the Temple $10,000 in silver bullion, two more Angels, another example to maintain control over his congregation and the fourth death in the "H" file, all from a basic plan that took less than a month to execute.
VICTIM NUMBER FIVE
Disappeared: presumed dead
During one of the Temple's cross country bus trips, Birdie Marable met and recruited Azrie Hood, an elderly resident of Marshall, Texas. Azrie joined the Peoples Temple but remained in Texas where she corresponded with Birdie, Ross Case and other Temple members in California, and sent them more in donations than she could afford.
Soon after Azrie joined the Temple, she began to suspect that she was being watched and followed. She was not paranoid; "they" really were out to get her. Patty Cartmell's intelligence agents were busily compiling data for Azrie's identification envelope, an envelope they filed under "H."
Azrie phoned Birdie Marable in a panic to report that she was certain that her telephone had been tapped. Birdie offered to send Azrie the airfare for the proposed flight from Shreveport, Louisiana to her sanctuary in California. Birdie told Azrie that she would pick her up at the San Francisco airport for the last leg of the journey to Redwood Valley. Azrie declined the offer of money and told Birdie that she would pay her own way to California but needed to wait for the first of the month when her social security check was scheduled to arrive.
Within hours of that fatal phone call, Azrie Hood disappeared, never to be seen again. There is little question that she is dead, or that the Peoples Temple killed her.
VICTIM NUMBER SIX
Died: October 5, 1976
Crushed under the wheels of a train car
It took Jones five years to gain sufficient control over Bob and Phyllis Houston to force an end to their relationship. They were divorced in 1974. As was typical in such situations, Jones brought Phyllis into his harem of mistresses. She was assigned to work with Patty Cartmell's intelligence team through her new job as radio dispatcher for the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office. Phyllis routinely reported the Sheriff's activities to Cartmell, but if those activities involved a Temple member, she reported directly and immediately to Jim Jones.
Phyllis died in Jonestown. Though contrary to the socially accepted norm, Jones saw to it that Bob Houston was awarded custody of his two daughters. He also ordered Houston to marry a Temple aide, Joyce Shaw, which he reluctantly agreed to do. Houston was having difficulty adjusting to this transition period as he felt that he had relinquished control of his life. His morale was at a low ebb and so, once again, Jones played on this frustrated musician's love of music to maintain control over him. Jones formed a production company with the stated purpose of recording and commercially distributing the music of the Peoples Temple "under the direction of Bob Houston." The record company was never much more than a shell and served only to regenerate Houston's interest in the Temple.
Bob and his new wife, Joyce, were transferred to the San Francisco Temple where they managed a dilapidated tenement house as a foster care home for twenty-four welfare children, including Bob's two daughters. Joyce, who had worked as an eligibility caseworker in the Mendocino County Welfare Office and had authored the first edition of the Temple's "Living Word" magazine, was then employed as a psychological tester at the University of California, presumably on the Berkeley campus. Bob had two jobs in addition to his responsibilities at the foster care home. During the day, he worked as a probation officer at the San Francisco Youth Guidance Center. His position at the Youth Center was very valuable in targeting welfare recipients as potential candidates for his and other Temple-operated foster care homes. At night, Bob worked as a switchman at the Southern Pacific Railroad yard in Oakland. He never really understood why Jones had insisted he accept the job at the railroad yard.
Bob Houston proved to be one of Jones' busiest and most profitable followers. Whether he realized it or not, his work at the San Francisco Youth Guidance Center helped to secure subjects and financing for Jones' experiment in mind control. He directed the Temple's music department and managed one of their foster care homes. Between his two full time jobs, Bob was able to contribute $2,000 a month to the Temple's coffer. Jones must have felt some reluctance when it came time to order his execution.
Jones, in typical form, began to openly criticize Bob Houston several months before his death. He claimed that Houston was "too smart for his own good" because he allegedly questioned Temple policy, but any excuse would have sufficed to justify the harassment. The major attack occurred on July 16, 1976 when Joyce Houston, following Jones' instructions, bought a bus ticket and left San Francisco, her husband Bob and (allegedly) the Peoples Temple. All at once, Bob was solely responsible for two full time jobs and two dozen children; and if that was not enough to break him, Jim Jones was. Jones told his congregation that Bob was responsible for Joyce leaving the Temple and that he deserved to be punished. All the zombies agreed, and Bob was called on the floor for several boxing matches. A boxing match was a clever means to legally beat an adult parishioner senseless. The victim (in this case, Bob Houston) would be issued a pair of boxing gloves and ordered into a ring with a larger opponent whom Jones had selected. It was considered cowardly for the accused to defend himself. He was expected to stand unguarded and accept his punishment. The beatings were so brutal as to require a fresh opponent every round. Temple nurses stood by to treat the victim's wounds with the most painful of antiseptics. The fights always fell short of death when Jones shouted, "Stop!" Victims were expected to say, "Thank you, Father," for their rightfully deserved punishment. The boxing matches were clever in that, if anyone ever questioned the practice, Jones could provide scores of witnesses to the "sporting event" who would testify that both contestants wore gloves and that, though it was unfortunate, one of them had to lose the fight.
Despite the break up of his marriage, his overwhelming work load and Jones' harassment, Bob Houston did not waver from his appointed schedule; that is not until Joyce telephoned him on October 2nd. Joyce had phoned Bob to tell him something terrible about Jim Jones but no one knows exactly what she said. She may have told Bob that Jones had deliberately destroyed his two marriages or that he was using him to control Congressman Ryan or that he intended to kill Bob and eventually everyone in the Peoples Temple. She may even have told him that Jones was a CIA agent. Whatever she reported was so effective that, the following day, Bob wrote Jones a letter of resignation. The next day, October 4th, Bob and Jones had a violent argument regarding his letter. On October 5th, Bob Houston was killed; crushed by a train car at the Southern Pacific yard. His lantern was found on a nearby flatcar; his work gloves were neatly folded on the car's coupler. The police declared Bob's death accidental despite the fact that nearly everyone who knew him suspected foul play for one reason or another. His co- workers at the railroad yard reported to the investigators that it was extremely odd that Bob was not wearing his work gloves at the time of his death. The only other time they had ever seen him remove his gloves at work was to shake hands with a friend. Their observations were accurate. Bob was not a switchman; he was a musician who would have taken extra care to protect his hands from the harsh, dirty work in the railroad yard. His co-workers surmised that Bob had removed his gloves to greet someone who had come to visit him at work. Since he died before putting them back on, they concluded that his visitor(s) had witnessed his death. Of course, no witnesses stepped forward to testify.
Rumor was that Jim Jones had ordered Bob Houston's death. The day after the accident, Jones' aide and mistress, Maria Katsaris, informed Temple members in Los Angeles:
Did you hear what happened to Bob Houston? He threatened to leave the church and wrote a letter to Jim. He was killed. Smashed between two trains.Weeks later, in a sermon, Jones warned his congregation, "Bob Houston wrote a hateful letter to the church. See what happened to him?"
Accusations of the Temple's responsibility in Bob Houston's death continued to circulate for months before settling in the San Francisco District Attorney's Office. Jones responded to this threat of exposure by ordering Joyce Houston to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Southern Pacific Railroad. Unable to deny the unusual circumstances surrounding Bob's death, Jones chose to advocate the foul play theory but direct the blame towards Southern Pacific. The mere filing of the lawsuit was sufficient to accomplish the desired results. With the suit pending, the District Attorney took a wait and see attitude and the investigation was stalled indefinitely.
It is crucial to understand what Joyce Houston knew at the time. She knew that Jones had been attacking her late husband for months prior to his demise. She knew she had warned Bob about Jones on October 2nd, and that he had resigned from the Temple on October 3rd, argued with Jones on October 4th and was killed on October 5th under extremely suspicious circumstances that she apparently felt warranted a wrongful death action. It is only logical that this alleged Temple defector would file suit against the Peoples Temple, however she filed against Southern Pacific because Jones had ordered her to do so. She had never left Jones' control, he still planned her every action. Joyce helped stage her own husband's death; the sixth and final homicide in the "H" file.
Sammy Houston immediately suspected that Jim Jones was as instrumental in his son's death as he had been in his life yet he remained silent for over a year. He confided his suspicions only to Associated Press colleague Tim Reiterman out of fear that the Temple would retaliate if he went public with his accusations. Actually, Sammy was preoccupied with fighting a losing battle with cancer of the larynx. He did not speak out because he had lost the ability to speak. In November of 1977, following the failure of the San Francisco D.A.'s investigation, Sammy wrote to his old friend, Leo Ryan asking for help.
Congressman Ryan and his top aide, Joe Holsinger, visited the Houstons' San Bruno home, where, with the help of a chalkboard and his wife, Nadyne, Sammy presented his case against the Peoples Temple. He asked Ryan to look into the death of his son but of more importance to Sammy was the welfare of his two granddaughters who were still in the hands of the Peoples Temple. Following Bob's death, Jones had sent the girls to New York City for a "vacation." While in New York, the two were transferred to a flight to Guyana and transported to their new home in Jonestown. Sammy had heard rumors of child molesting in the jungle sanctuary and was legitimately concerned for his pretty twelve and thirteen year old granddaughters. He asked Ryan to visit the girls in Jonestown and, if at all possible, to escort them back to the United States. As Joe Holsinger later recalled, Ryan accepted the challenge; promising his old friend, "Sammy, I will do n everything I can to get your grandchildren back."
Everything was proceeding exactly to Jones' master plan.
Leo Ryan's political career had progressed steadily since the late 1960's when he first came to the attention of Jim Jones. Republican Congressman Paul McCloskey had challenged Richard Nixon for the presidential nomination and was gerrymandered south, leaving the reapportioned 11th Congressional District (Ryan's home district) without an incumbent. Ryan seized the opportunity and campaigned for the vacant post. He ran unopposed in the primary and won the general election with 61% of the vote, an impressive victory considering that Ryan was the first Democrat to represent the area in over thirty years.
When newly elected Congressman Ryan set out for Washington, D.C., he brought with him his singular style of personal investigation. Though his style did not change between the California Assembly and the United States Congress, the subject of his investigations did. In California, Ryan had pursued a wide variety of issues, but in Washington he would focus his work on one main topic: the domestic operations of the Central Intelligence Agency. His interest in the CIA became the dominant factor in Ryan's life in Washington and his death in Guyana.
Congressman Ryan's concern over the CIA's domestic spy operations was legitimate and well founded. It had been reported that there were more intelligence agents illegally operating in Ryan's San Mateo county and the adjacent Santa Clara County than in all other parts of the United States combined; Washington, D.C. included. The area, dubbed Silicon Valley, had evolved to become the center of high technology in the U.S. and boasted the highest concentration of military and industrial secrets in the world. Consequentially, hundreds of foreign intelligence agents were drawn to the area. Only some fit the stereotyped image of an enemy spy seeking military secrets. Most foreign agents in Silicon Valley were sent by friendly countries to steal, not military, but industrial and technological secrets. To combat the assault, the CIA sent thousands of counter intelligence agents into Silicon Valley to ferret out the foreign agents and guard what they considered the national security and economic future of the United States. The end result was that Ryan's home district was thoroughly infested with spies; "theirs" and "ours".
Ryan, who was a member of the Government Information and Individual Rights Subcommittee, accurately perceived the CIA's presence in California as a threat to the rights of the citizenry. The main problem was that many CIA operatives were violating the law in the pursuit of their work. Innocent citizens were being hurt in the name of national security, and Ryan was concerned.
There were several factors that encouraged the CIA agents in California to break the law. First, the agency did not issue detailed instructions to its operatives, only general objectives, and too often the methods to achieve those objectives were left to the discretion of the individual agent. Many agents believed that their secretive work in U.S. security was above the law and their higher purpose gave them license to break the law. Some thought their work was special, others thought that they were special. This egotistical attitude remains a problem to this day. Also, there were agents who used their cover and contacts to further criminal activities they would have pursued even if they were not employed by the agency. This group was the inevitable criminal element found everywhere. Though their percentage was low, the collective damage they inflicted was high. The last type of criminal agent was the scientist or businessman who, quite often, had been blackmailed into working for the CIA. The agency had long since concluded that they did not want the majority of people who applied for employment. The applicants were, for the most part, law and order right wingers with inflated egos and Wyatt Earp complexes. The CIA, whose middle name is "intelligence", needed a higher caliber employee, and therein lay the problem. The more intelligent a person, the less likely he was to join the CIA. The talented people needed to be recruited. They were pressed into service, coerced into service, and even blackmailed into service using the same brutal tactics that Jim Jones used to blackmail his Angels. These were frustrated agents who often resented the CIA's control of their lives, but within their dilemma was an advantage; a certain degree of immunity from prosecution that many took full advantage of out of pure spite.
But, unquestionably, the major factor that encouraged the illegal activities of CIA agents stationed in Leo Ryan's home district was their very assignment in that district, as domestic operations were strictly prohibited by the agency's charter. It was not until years later, when such activities were under threat of exposure, that the CIA persuaded President Ronald Reagan to amend their charter to sanction what they had been doing for years. But at the time, the CIA was illegally operating in California. It is ludicrous to assume that the individual agents in California would obey the law in pursuit of their work when their work, in itself, was a violation of the law. It suffices to say that by 1972, when Leo Ryan was first elected to Congress, the CIA operations in his home district were massive, illegal, threatening, and very much out of control.
Immediately upon arriving in Washington, as if it were the primary reason he had campaigned for Congress, Ryan drafted an amendment intended to stop, or at least control, the CIA's illegal operations in Silicon Valley and elsewhere within the United States.
The Hughes Ryan Amendment to the National Assistance Act would be the only major piece of legislation Ryan would introduce in his six years in Congress. The amendment transferred responsibility for overseeing the CIA from the Armed Forces Committee, which often turned a blind eye to the agency's activities, to the International Relations Committee of both houses of Congress.
The CIA fought Congressman Ryan and his amendment tooth and nail (or, more aptly, cloak and dagger) and would have successfully defeated the legislation if it were not for Ryan's impeccable timing. He introduced the bill at the height of the Watergate scandal when the public was shocked to learn of the crimes of Howard Hunt and other agency operatives in the United States. Despite the agency's strong objections, the Hughes Ryan Amendment passed into law, earning Leo Ryan two distinctions; a seat on the International Relations CIA Oversight committee, and a very prominent position on the CIA's list of enemies.
As if Ryan were not already in serious trouble with the agency, he proceeded to taunt them further by demanding to be informed of all their domestic operations. The official position of the CIA was that such operations did not exist, but top agency officials and Ryan knew better. Unable to hide their illegal work from the foremost investigator in Congress, the CIA admitted to Ryan that they were operating in California but they fed him token reports of their projects; all of which they justified as necessary to safeguard the national security. Surprisingly, Ryan agreed that the reported operations were necessary and he made no attempt to expose them to the public. But during the course of his investigations, he uncovered evidence to support the contention that the CIA had sponsored several cults that practiced mind control on their members. The cults were not a matter of national security but experiments in the control of people for power and profit; a clear violation of human rights. Ryan set out to expose these CIA cults in what might be compared to a blind man kicking a sleeping crocodile. The agency did not cooperate with Ryan's demands for information, for if they had, they would have told him about Jim Jones, and they did not.
Ryan discovered that the CIA cults, like their business fronts, were difficult to identify and monitor, as they were designed to be financially self-sufficient. The agency could then account for every dollar of their congressional budget without divulging their profit making operations or the projects those profits helped to finance.
The first cult Ryan investigated was the Unification Church, whose leader, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, was alleged to have strong ties with the CIA in Korea. Ryan lacked hard evidence and, apparently, the ability to convince the other members of his committee that there was a conspiracy and so his colleagues successfully stopped the investigation. In his frustration at the failure of his efforts, Ryan was quoted as saying, "Well, something has to be done about those people."
The next alleged CIA cult to come to Ryan's attention was the Symbionese Liberation Army; the revolutionary group who kidnapped and brainwashed millionaire heiress, Patricia Hearst.
Kidnapped: February 4, 1974
The kidnapping of Patricia Hearst is presented here because it was the first public arena that Congressman Leo Ryan shared with the CIA and Jim Jones. Donald David DeFreeze was a small time thief and paid informant for the Los Angeles Police Department. Following her ordeal, Patty Hearst described DeFreeze:
I think he was a paid informant. His crimes were average crimes, they weren't anything spectacular or revolutionary. He was a two-bit crook. He got caught on an earlier charge and started informing to keep from going to Jail.
In midsummer 1970, prison reform was a major issue in California politics. As Leo Ryan checked into Folsom Prison for his undercover research in prison problems, Donald DeFreeze was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to a six-to-fourteen year term at Vacaville State Prison in spite of, or perhaps because of, his relationship with the Los Angeles Police Department. Almost immediately, DeFreeze infiltrated and gained control of the Black Culture Association; a prison reform group begun two years earlier with the stated purpose of educating Black inmates, upgrading their skills and self-esteem and providing society with a more responsible citizen upon their release. By 1972, he was described as the "most dynamic member of the association." It is interesting to note that in the prison reform movement in California, Donald DeFreeze was the most outspoken inmate, Leo Ryan was the most outspoken politician and Jim Jones was the most outspoken civic leader. Under the direction of DeFreeze, the Black Culture Association quickly changed form with the addition of several new middle management members. Thero M. Wheeler, a Black inmate at Vacaville, was one of the first to be brought into the association by DeFreeze. Wheeler was a member of the revolutionary Venceremos Organization; a now disbanded CIA controlled group, "many of whose members spent time cutting cane in Cuba to support the Castro government." Next to join the association was a group of Caucasians from outside the prison system. Willie Wolf and Russell Little led this final assault on the association and, with their White comrades, successfully purged the association of its charter Black membership. As one former Black member recalls:
They (the young whites) called me a pig and a Central Intelligence agent. They made me so mad I finally quit.With the Black members ousted from the Black Cultural Association, DeFreeze and his lieutenants were left with a shell of an organization that would evolve into the Symbionese Liberation Army. He had successfully destroyed the only effective Black inmate organization in California.
In November 1972, DeFreeze was transferred from Vacaville to Soledad Prison. In March of 1973, he replaced a senior prison trustee in a boiler room job. He escaped from prison his first day at work. The following day the old trustee was back at his post in the boiler room with no reason given for his absence. Prison officials were quick to point out that DeFreeze had "outside help" in his escape. True, he had help, but the evidence would suggest that the help came, not from outside, but from inside the prison system.
Five months later, in August 1973, Thero Wheeler escaped from Vacaville Prison to join Donald DeFreeze, Willie Wolf, Russell Little, Joseph Remiro, Angela Atwood and the other SLA members to begin their odyssey. It was common knowledge around Santa Rosa Junior College that, once a week, the Peoples Temple students trained in the tactics of guerrilla warfare. They were seen in the open fields on the outskirts of town doing calisthenics, marching in formation and drilling with broomstick rifles. They "shot" passing cars which they pretended were tanks. They learned survival tactics and how to navigate using maps, compassses and the stars. They read books on military tactics and terrorism. The training was very professional.
These Temple college students would become the armed guards of Jonestown. Their purpose was in Guyana, not in California where Jones found it too risky to deploy them. If any were caught in illegal acts it would certainly reflect on the Temple, as hundreds of Santa Rosa students could testify that the Temple had trained them. The problem arose that Jones' superiors had given him a task that required a small militia for a project in California. He had one but couldn't use it. Donald DeFreeze solved his problem.
According to the New York Times, by the summer of 1973, the SLA was offering its services to leftist organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area that advocated revolution.
There are indications that, well before November, the group's leadership sounded out other radical organizations, offering to act as the guerrilla arm for those who sought revolution.History will probably record that it was during this period that Donald DeFreeze first met Jim Jones, but this researcher believes that since both men were operatives of the CIA their initial meeting occurred sometime before the summer of 1973. In any event, DeFreeze offered his services and Jones accepted.
Jones confided to members of the Temple as well as left-wing organizations outside the Temple that he agreed with and supported the goals of the SLA. He went so far as to reprint the SLA's declaration for distribution among his followers and circulated the report that his bodyguard, Chris Lewis, had given SLA leaders sanctuary after their prison break. Three weeks after the SLA made news by kidnapping Patty Hearst, the San Francisco Police Department's Intelligence and Anti-terrorist Divisions and the FBI started an investigation into allegations that Jim Jones was the mastermind behind the revolutionary group. One Temple member, described only as a Black woman in her mid fifties, told police investigators that she had seen SLA leaders Donald DeFreeze and Nancy Ling Perry, as well as Patty Hearst's boyfriend,
Stephen Weed, at Temple services in Ukiah. Her report was never made public but Jones felt it was enough of a threat of exposure that he ordered Tim Stoen to write two letters to the SFPD in which Stoen said, "As an assistant district attorney, I can attest that Rev. Jones consistently... attacks scathingly the B.L.A. (Black Liberation Army--of which Rory Hithe is said to have been a member), the S.L.A. and other groups." Stoen went on to say that the Temple had totally disassociated itself from Chris Lewis, who was under suspicion for harboring SLA fugitives, citing that Lewis had left the Temple and San Francisco but neglecting to say that Jones had merely sent him to Guyana until the crisis passed.
In August 1973, The Peoples Temple hierarchy held a top- secret meeting in an open cow pasture at a Temple operated ranch in Redwood Valley. They often conducted their critical meetings out-of-doors for fear that the Temple's buildings had been bugged by electronic surveillance devices. Tim Stoen presided and told Patty Cartmell, Terry Buford, Sandy Bradshaw and the others that, although Jim Jones would not attend, that he would be informed of the results of the meeting. Stoen said, "We want to be able to say that we were acting independently and Jim had not been advised of our actions. There were two items on his agenda; Marcus Foster and Patricia Hearst.
For several years, the Temple has been stealing Black welfare children from the ghettoes of Oakland and assigning them to Temple foster care homes.. The welfare fraud scam was central to the Jonestown plan as it provided both the necessary federal funding as well as the guinea pigs for the experiment. The project was being threatened by the one man in a position to view the mass exodus of school aged Black children from Oakland to the Peoples Temple, Oakland school superintendent, Marcus Foster. Foster had uncovered too much and was beginning to talk about Jim Jones. Everyone at the cow pasture meeting agreed that he needed to be silenced.
The second item on the agenda has been described as a contingency plan in the event that Jim Jones was arrested. The group decided that the best course of action was to kidnap a public figure as ransom for their leader's release. Several potential victims were discussed but the group settled on Patricia Hearst. She was sufficiently famous to warrant public attention. Her family was wealthy enough to pay a large ransom, if necessary. But more important, her father, William Randolph Hearst, was the publisher and editor of the San Francisco Examiner, a newspaper that Jones had declared war with just eleven months earlier. In September of 1972, the Examiner's religious columnist, the Reverend Lester Kinsolving, penned a series of damaging articles on the Peoples Temple. Only four of the eight installments were published as several hundred Temple followers stopped the expose by picketing the newspaper's office with placards and Bibles. Now, almost one year later, the Examiner threatened to print another expose. Jones surmised that the only way to control the Examiner was to control William Randolph Hearst and the only way to control Hearst was to control his daughter, Patty. Lester Kinsolving presented another problem. Patty Cartmell's intelligence agents burglarized his home looking for information. They even went so far as to tunnel under his house so they could overhear conversations from the crawl space beneath the floors.
Ultimately, Lester Kinsolving, the first man to warn about the dangers in the Peoples Temple, was totally discredited:
In 1976, Lester Kinsolving, an Episcopalian priest whose syndicated columns appeared in twenty newspapers and who was host of four radio shows, lost his credentials as a journalist after the National Council of Churches complained that he acted as an agent for the South African government.On November 6, 1973, Marcus Foster was assassinated by an unidentified gunman. The Symbionese Liberation Army claimed responsibility in a communique'. At first the authorities did not believe the SLA even existed, that is until a second communique described how Foster had been shot with a cyanide-tipped bullet; a fact the police had deliberately kept secret. For the first time they took the SLA seriously.
In January, Russell Little and Joseph Remiro were stopped by police on a traffic violation and arrested for murder when the officers discovered SLA literature in their van. That evening, the SLA's headquarters in Concord, California was burned by a fire of undetermined origin. No one was injured but the incident foretold their ultimate demise eighteen months later in Los Angeles.
On the evening of February 4, 1974, three SLA soldiers kidnapped Patty Hearst from her Berkeley apartment. For the next fifty-seven days, they held her bound and blindfolded in a small closet while DeFreeze made his ransom demands. At first it was thought that he would propose a prisoner exchange; Patty in exchange for the release of Remiro and Little, but, in a surprise move, DeFreeze demanded that the Hearst family feed the poor of California as ransom for Patty.
On February 14th, two days after the SLA's first communique on Patty's abduction, Jim Jones and four top Temple aides, Tim Stoen, Karen Layton, Michael Prokes and Annie Moore offered themselves, in a published article in the Press Democrat, as hostages in exchange for the newspaper heiress. Jones knew that ultimately someone would make the Peoples Temple/SLA/ Patty Hearst connection so, in an effort to set the record wrong, he publicly confirmed his involvement but at the same time implied his innocence. It was his typical defense. There was no risk to Jones in his Valentine's Day offer as he controlled the SLA and besides the publicity was helpful in building his humanitarian image. To complete the deceit, he offered $2,000 as the first contribution to the Patty Hearst ransom fund that, apparently, he tried to have established, but that never existed. The Hearsts returned the Temple's check but not before Jones' generosity was widely reported in the local media.
DeFreeze first demanded that the Hearsts give a $70 box of food to every Californian with a welfare, social security pension, food stamp, disabled veteran or Medicare card, as well as anyone with papers from probation, parole, jail or bail. The Hearsts refused this proposal as it would have cost $230 million; the total assets of the family and the Hearst foundation they controlled. DeFreeze must have been quite accurately informed to arrive at the seventy dollar per person figure.
DeFreeze countered that the Hearsts should do something to feed the poor of California as a demonstration of good faith before negotiations for Patty's release could begin. William Randolph Hearst offered an immediate $2 million food giveaway in San Francisco with an additional $4 million program to follow his daughter's release. In a press conference, Hearst said:
Arrangements have been made for $2 million to be delivered to tax exempt charitable organizations approved by the Attorney General of California and capable of making the distribution for the benefit of the poor and needy.Hearst enlisted two unlikely characters to administer the food giveaway program: Ludlow Kramer, Washington state's secretary and Peggy Maze, director of "Neighbors in Need", a Seattle-based group formed to subsidize unemployed aerospace workers who had lost their jobs during a massive layoff at Boeing. A steering committee was formed to oversee the food distribution. Heading the committee was Cecil Williams, the Black pastor of San Francisco's Glide Memorial Church who was receiving the SLA's communiques and American Indian Movement (AIM) leader, Dennis Banks. Both men were very close to Jim Jones. Williams and Jones were good friends who shared a common profession, style and neighborhood while Banks owed Jones a large debt. A year earlier, Jones had paid the nineteen thousand dollar bail that released Bank's wife, Ka-Mook, after federal authorities arrested her for her part in the Wounded Knee Indian uprising. At the SLA's insistence, the Western Addition Project Area Committee chaired the coalition. The WAPAC had been under Jones' control ever since Lewis killed Hithe.
Though Jones was the self-proclaimed spokesman for San Francisco's poor Blacks, headed an organization that was best qualified to administer the food giveaway and had close contacts with the program, his name was noticeably missing from the press reports.
The Peoples Temple combined forces with Peggy Maze's "Neighbors in Need" program to form the "People in Need" food giveaway that represented the ransom of Patty Hearst and a windfall profit for Jim Jones.
Jones reminded his congregation that they were the poor of San Francisco and deserved their fair share of the free food. Through his contacts within the program, he was able to provide his followers with advanced information as to exactly where the food would be handed out. Temple busses transported hundreds of parishioners to the random distribution points just prior to their opening. On one occasion, Temple guards hijacked a delivery truck en route to a distribution point and stole the entire contents of the truck.
No one, not the local press that covered the story or the bystanders who witnessed it, realized that most of the recipients of the food giveaway were members of the Peoples Temple. Since the poor were not required to sign for the food or even produce identification, Temple members could return for a second, third, or even fourth box of food which was then brought to the Geary Street headquarters where they were told that it would be stored for their future consumption. Actually, the free food was reloaded onto trucks, sent back to the distribution points, redistributed and recounted. In this way, Jones made one dollar's worth of food appear as two, three or four dollar's worth on the auditor's accounting ledger. It is not known whether Jones' scam worked for or against the interests of the Hearst family. He could have provided the means by which they appeared to satisfy the dollar amounts promised at a fraction of the cost or he may have just monopolized the program to receive the full published value of the giveaway. In either event, by the completion of the five week program, most of the food and/or the money designated to purchase the food, ended up in the Peoples Temple. Critics, some of whom were on the steering committee, protested against what they claimed was the poor organization and internal theft that plagued the program but no mention was made of the Peoples Temple. Jones, who would later claim to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, must have seen the irony in comparing the People in Need program with the Biblical story of the loaves and fishes.
President Ronald Reagan, then governor of California, provided a humorous footnote to this story. At first, he told San Francisco's poor not to accept the free food lest they support the terrorist's demands. Whether intentional or not, Reagan was very instrumental in helping Jones' people to monopolize the program at least in the beginning but eventually hunger was a stronger influence than the governor and the city's poor ignored his plea and took their place in any free food line that they were lucky enough to encounter. Reagan's response, in a speech to congressional aids in Washington, was to wish that the recipients of the People in Need food giveaway might well suffer an "epidemic of botulism."
When the last of the alleged $2 million dollars worth of groceries was handed out, Patty announced, in a tape recorded message to the press, that she had voluntarily joined the ranks of the SLA to fight the "corporate ruling class," a calculated statement that accurately describes the Hearst family. Soon after the announcement, as if to verify her commitment, DeFreeze ordered Patty and the others to rob a San Francisco branch of Hibernia Bank; which they did in full view of the bank's cameras. Patty was, once again, on the front pages, but this time she held an automatic weapon in her hands. Ironically, Hibernia Bank was managed by the father of Trish Tobin, Patty's closest friend before the kidnapping.
DeFreeze then moved the group to a safe house in a poor neighborhood in Los Angeles where most of the SLA reportedly died in a shootout with the FBI and the local police.
On May 16th, DeFreeze, as if he knew something was about to happen, ordered Patty, Bill Harris and his wife, Emily, on a mission to steal some heavy winter clothes. Patty remained in the van across the street while the Harrises entered the sporting goods store. Bill Harris emerged with the shoplifted merchandise and the store detective on his heels. The two wrestled to the sidewalk and Patty opened fire with the automatic weapon that DeFreeze had issued her. No one was injured and the three escaped in a hijacked vehicle for an exciting ride to the Anaheim motel room where they were to rendezvous with DeFreeze and the others. But when they checked into the room and turned on the television to watch for news reports of their shoot-out at the sporting goods store, they witnessed instead live media coverage of the attack and total destruction of the SLA's hideout. To say that the FBI and the LAPD overreacted is an understatement. In reality--they went wild! Thousands of rounds of ammunition perforated the small wood-frame house, tear gas and fire bombs were projected through the windows and the structure burnt to the ground. Obviously, they wanted to kill everyone inside, and their "take no prisoners" tactic raises some serious questions as, supposedly, they had no indication that Patty was not inside the house at the time. DeFreeze reportedly died in the fire started by the same Los Angeles Police Department that, just a few months earlier, had employed him as an informant.
Apparently, DeFreeze had advance knowledge of the police raid on the SLA hideout. Sending Patty out in public was very risky. With her picture on the front page of nearly every newspaper, anyone on the street could have recognized her and jeopardized the entire SLA organization. Since he had ordered Patty and the Harrises to steal winter clothing, he knew they would be leaving L.A. for a colder climate. The automatic weapons he issued seemed grossly out of proportion to the crime of shoplifting as did the motel room rendezvous, the cost of which could not have been justified by the value of the stolen merchandise. Actually, DeFreeze accomplished exactly what he wanted: Patty was safely out of the house, armed and on her way out of California.
Patty and the Harrises spent what has been termed as the "missing year" hiding out in the hills of Pennsylvania and Upstate New York while the entire country pondered their fate. A humorous sign in an Upstate New York barroom claimed, Patty Hearst peeked in the window here." She monopolized the headlines for an unprecedented eighteen months. Hers was the most widely covered story of the decade. Everyone was on the lookout for the fugitive heiress.
Eventually, the group joined forces with Steven Soliah and others who surfaced in Sacramento, California to rob the Crocker National Bank in Carmichael. Patty and Steven Soliah drove the getaway cars. During the holdup, an innocent bystander, a forty-two year old mother of four, was shot and killed. Patty was now wanted for murder. The group fled to San Francisco where, on September 18, 1975, the police, acting on an anonymous tip, located and arrested Patty Hearst.
In her subsequent trial, defense attorney F. Lee Bailey argued that his client was really three Patty Hearsts: the one before the kidnapping, the one during the kidnapping, and the one that, now deprogrammed, was standing trial. In later years, when asked why so many psychiatrists were so fascinated with her, Patty responded:
Because for the first time they were getting a victim of coercive persuasion and sensory deprivation where it wasn't the result of the Chinese or something -- it was domestic terrorists. They don't get to see a whole lot of that.Despite her defense, Patty was convicted and sentenced to a seven year prison term; a harsh punishment considering that her accomplice, Steven Soliah, who had played an equivalent role in the Carmichael bank robbery, was acquitted on all charges.
Patty was still very much in the news and Jim Jones was still very much in the prison reform movement in California. He had assigned his aide, Jann Gurvich, the Temple's paralegal and political science teacher, the task of monitoring the trial of the "San Quentin Six," the Black Panther defendants who were represented by Charles Garry (Jones would later hire the attorney as the Temple's attorney.) In an autobiography, Garry dictated in Jonestown just prior to her death, Gurvich recounted her assignment:
Actually, the picture of the terrible and barbarous San Quentin Six defendants that was carefully staged by the California Department of Corrections and Marin County officials began shaping up long before I walked into the courtroom. There was the Patty Hearst trial, which was going on in San Francisco just across the Bay. The Flee F. Lee Bailey) and Patty were getting daily press coverage (actually minute-by-minute, change-of-clothes-by-change-of-clothes coverage). The Six were ignored.
After serving two of her seven years, Patty's sentence was commuted by an executive order from President Carter. She settled in the San Francisco Bay Area and later married her bodyguard, ex-San Francisco policeman Bernie Shaw.
To follow the Hearst kidnapping full circle, Jones reassigned Gurvich to the Los Angeles law offices of Leonard Weinglass where, in the summer of 1976, she worked closely with the attorney on the defense of Emily Harris who had been charged with kidnapping.
Almost from the beginning, conspiratorialists theorized that the CIA had masterminded the Hearst kidnapping as a distraction from the major news of the day which was the agency's participation in the Watergate break-in and cover-up. Patty would later say:
I think I was very much a distraction from what was going on in Washington. At the time, there was Watergate and we were losing a President quickly...If the CIA kidnapped Patty Hearst as a media diversion, it could not have been better planned, executed, or scheduled. She was the perfect victim since her father controlled the largest privately owned news media conglomerate in the United States. No one could have commanded more national media attention than could Patty Hearst. The major incidents in the story were so systematically timed as to guarantee continual front-page coverage for the same year and a half in which the headlines would have read CIA" if it were not for "Patty Hearst." In truth, the Patty Hearst story did monopolize the news and help suppress stories on the CIA's domestic operations. The only question remaining is whether or not the agency planned it that way. If the CIA engineered the kidnapping they probably also engineered the ransom payment either with or without the knowledge of the Hearst family. The agency could have offered the family a $100,000 solution to their $2 million problem. Though the problem was covert, the solution may have been overt through agent Jim Jones who was working either for himself, the CIA, the Hearsts, or all three.
If Congressman Ryan had proof that the CIA sponsored the SLA, he never stated so publicly. Instead, he recognized the plan for what it was, a media manipulation and, rather than expose the truth, he proceeded to use it for his own political gain. Since the Hearst family resided in his home district, Ryan began to refer to himself as "Patty Hearst's Congressman," a title that insured him much publicity. In the end, Ryan came to Patty's rescue when he personally organized the congressional petition that was the deciding factor in President Carter's executive order commuting her sentence. Patty Hearst in Prison; Jim Jones put her there, Leo Ryan got her out -- first encounter.
Ryan's kindness did not go unnoticed. In 1980, Patty Hearst made a rare public appearance to announce plans to raise funds for a proposed child care center to be dedicated to the assassinated congressman. Though she recognizes her alliance with Ryan, she does not recognize that the bond is primarily due to the common enemy they shared in the CIA and Jim Jones.
As a postscript to the Patty Hearst story, it is interesting to consider the possible ramifications of the largest independent news network in the United ~ States being controlled in the 1990's by someone the CIA had brainwashed.
It took eight years to write the script, cast the characters, rehearse the parts and stage the play. The protagonist, Leo Ryan, had failed to prove the CIA conspiracy in the Unification Church and the Symbionese Liberation Army, but he had been sufficiently educated in such operations to be well prepared for Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple. According to Ryan's top aide, Joe Holsinger:
By the time he (Ryan) was asked to look into the Peoples Temple, he had some idea of what these groups might be doing.In answer to Sammy Houston's request for help, Ryan initiated a detailed investigation into the Temple's illegal activities, with particular attention to the more serious accusations of murder. In addition to Sammy's testimony, Ryan was deluged with reports of brainwashings, beatings, blackmailings and murders from ex-Temple members and relatives of current members, all of whom were, oddly enough, Caucasian. They came to Ryan because he was the only Northern California Congressman on the International Relations Committee and the only public official who seemed to care about the welfare of the residents in Jonestown. Most were members of the "Concerned Relatives" group; a division of the Human Freedom Center. Elmer and Deanna Mertle, two ex-Temple members, had started the Human Freedom Center to help other ex-cult members to readjust to life in mainstream society. Elmer Mertle had been one of the few Caucasians active in the struggle for Black civil rights in the sixties and seventies. He authored a column in a Black publication and even walked by Martin Luther King's side in his now famous march in Selma, Alabama. Following a divorce from his first wife, Elmer met Deanna at a meeting of "Parents Without Partners." The minister who married them recommended the Peoples Temple and the newlyweds joined the Redwood Valley congregation where they were considered middle management. By 1975, the Mertles became disillusioned with Jones and left the Temple to open the Human Freedom Center. Deanna was quoted as saying, "I can only compare Jones to Hitler. Like Mary Love, the Mertles changed their names (to Al and Jeannie Mills) in order to avoid possible embarrassment or even prosecution resulting from the self-confession letters they had signed for Jones. Following the mass suicide, Tim Stoen encouraged Jeannie Mills to write a book about her experiences with the Peoples Temple. Six Years with God was published in late 1979.
A few short months later, in February 1980, unidentified gunmen broke into the Mills' home and shot Al, Jeannie, and their teenaged daughter, execution-style, in the head. Al and Jeannie died instantly, while their daughter died two days later when her doctor declared her "neurologically dead" and disconnected her life-support systems. The murders remain unsolved.
Some of the members of the Concerned Relatives were just that -- concerned relatives; but some were agents of Jim Jones who were sent to infiltrate the group to monitor and help control its progress. One such Temple spy was Tim Stoen. Grace Grech Stoen had since left the Temple and her husband to file a lawsuit against Jones over the custody of her only child, John Victor Stoen, whom Jones had nicknamed John-John after President Kennedy's son. Tim Stoen represented Jones at first but then reportedly defected from the Temple to join his wife in the lawsuit. Jones countered by accusing the Stoens of being CIA operatives. The entire episode was a sham. The Stoen's marriage was never anything more than a change of name and a paper on file. The Temple had raised John-John; the Stoens cared nothing for the boy. Jones had introduced Tim and Grace, married them and even fathered their only child according to Tim Stoen's signed affidavit in which the attorney swore:
I Timothy Oliver Stoen, hereby acknowledge that in April 1971 I entreated my beloved Pastor, James W. Jones, to sire a child by my wife, Grace Lucy (Grech) Stoen...The child, John Victor Stoen, was born on January 25, 1972... I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.The document was witnessed by Jones' wife, Marceline. "Entreated" is almost humorous. It has been alleged that Tim Stoen was a homosexual who had been blackmailed into the service of the CIA and that he and his wife shared a common lover in Jim Jones. In a letter to the Agency for International Development, the Peoples Temple charged that,
The Stoens instigated his (Jones') relationship with Grace, over Tim's pleas to protect his reputation from embarrassment of threatened exposure of his transvestite patterns.This may be true, but moreover there is strong evidence to support the theory that Stoen was a CIA operative, at least the East Germans thought so. In the early 1960's, Stoen was arrested in Berlin on a charge of espionage after he was caught photographing sensitive military installations near the Berlin Wall. He was accused of being a CIA spy and held for nine days before being deported to the United States where he lectured against communism joined and joined forces with Jones. Just about the time Stoen was being arrested in Germany, Jones was close to arrest in Brazil, where a local newspaper reporter, observing his role in the brewing military coup, publicly accused him of working for the CIA. The life experience of Tim Stoen and Jim Jones had more than just the Peoples Temple and a disputed son in common. Stoen's career in the Peoples Temple prospered to the point where, in 1976, Governor Jerry Brown appointed him to serve on the California Advisory Council, the Legal Services Corporation through which he administered the federal legal aid programs. Eventually, the child custody suit provided him and his estranged wife with the means to gracefully resign their responsibilities in the Temple's hierarchy before being incriminated in the pending tragedy. It also gave them a logical reason for joining the Concerned Relatives and an additional child custody case to encourage Congressman Ryan to investigate Jonestown. Nothing ever came of their lawsuit; John-John died in the massacre. The Stoens remained together only as long as necessary to show their solidarity and imply their innocence. As of last report, Tim is practicing law in San Francisco's financial district. Grace married Temple aide Walter Jones (no blood relation to Jim Jones). Little is known of Walter Jones' work in the Peoples Temple or his obviously successful defection from the cult but after the massacre he was quoted as saying that he knew that "Jones took those people down there to kill them." There was some speculation that Walter and Grace planned to relocate to the Syracuse, New York area, but this has never been confirmed. In the end, the Stoens escaped as did most of Jones Caucasian Angels.
The Concerned Relatives provided Congressman Ryan with a wealth of incriminating evidence against Jim Jones, including detailed accounts of the aforementioned six murders. Ryan, in turn, sought the help of the State and Justice Departments but no one in Washington would cooperate with his requests for information on the Peoples Temple. On September 15, 1975, he met with Viron Vaky, the State Department's Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Inter- American Affairs. According to the House Committee report on Ryan's assassination, "What he had earlier considered merely the "possibility" of going to Guyana appears to have become firm in his mind at that meeting." In subsequent meetings, the State Department told Ryan that Jonestown had been visited at least three times to date by staff members of the U.S. Embassy in Guyana CIA operatives by definition) and that they had found no indication of foul play. Eventually, the State Department sent a form letter to Ryan and the Concerned Relatives, in which they stated,
It is the opinion of these officers, reinforced by conversations with local officials who deal with the People's Temple, that it is improbable that anyone is being held in bondage. In general, the people appear to be healthy, adequately fed and housed, and satisfied with their lives on what is a large farm. Many do hard physical labor, but there is no evidence of people being forced to work beyond their capacity or against their will.Originally, Congressman Edward Derwinski (R, Illinois) was scheduled to accompany Ryan on the official congressional junket to Jonestown but at the last moment Derwinski canceled, citing a conflict of schedule. He had promised to visit his daughter at college. He may have been warned not to go to Guyana Following the assassination, even conservative observers felt the CIA had deliberately failed to warn Ryan of the potential dangers in Jonestown because they hated him so for his sponsorship of the Hughes-Ryan Amendment. In any event, Ryan and his aides amassed a file on the Temple members that Jones had reportedly ordered executed. The summary of that file read something like this:
Temple Victim Death, Date of Death, Cause of Death,Ryan was extremely busy shuttling between Washington, D.C, and California, planning his reelection campaign, organizing the petition to release Patty Hearst and polishing his latest literary work, a spy novel about a terrorist group that planted a hydrogen bomb in Washington. Even with this busy schedule, Ryan found time to review the "H" file summary.
1. Harpe, Maxine 3/28/70 Caucasian Female, Hung by the neck from the rafters of her garage.
2. Hithe, Rory 11/8/73 Black Mail, Shot to death in an argument with Temple guard Chris Lewis.
3. Hart, Truth 7/16/74 Black Female, Congestive heart failure.
4. Head, John 10/19/75 Male Caucasian, Multiple head lacerations suffered in a fall.
5. Hood, Azrie unknown Disappeared; Black Female presumed dead, cause unknown.
6. Houston, Bob 10/5/76 Caucasian Male, Crushed by a tramcar at the Southern Pacific RR Yard.
His first reaction was how peculiar it was that all the reported Temple victims had surnames that begin with the letter "H." Actually, an aide had discovered it when he went to file the reports of the Temple murders. The mathematical odds of such a phenomenon occurring coincidentally are staggering. Ryan noticed something else about the victims. They had been killed in alphabetical order insofar as each victim was the next in the Temple's "H" file at the time of his or her death. Rory Hithe may have been killed before John Head but, at the time, Head was not a member of the Temple nor included in their files. Also, Jones, who claimed that there was no racism, sexism, or ageism in Jonestown, certainly showed no such prejudices in his selection of the six victims: three were Black, three were Caucasian; three were men, three were women; three were young, three were elderly. Chronologically, the six murders were fairly evenly spaced over a six and a half year period. Each of the victims had been killed in a different way so as not to set a pattern or modus operandi that might incriminate Jones or his Temple. At first, Ryan thought it was only a coincidence that his old friend, Bob Houston, had been crushed by a traincar stenciled with the RR company name "HOUSTON," but then he discovered the bizarre truth. John Head died from "head" lacerations, Truth Hart died from "heart" failure, Rory Hithe, within the vernacular was "hit" by gunfire, Azrie Hood (as in concealment) had disappeared, but Maxine Harp's death did not seem to fit the pattern, that is until Ryan consulted a dictionary:
HARP/'harp/n: an instrument having wire of graded length stretched across an open triangular wooden frame...The extension cord noose was the "wire," the garage rafters the "open triangular wooden frame." Maxine Harpe's death did exemplify a harp.
Ryan had decoded a logical sequence that established a common perpetrator in the six deaths; Jim Jones. He knew if Jones were to continue the progression his next victims would be Judy and Patricia Houston, the very children Sammy Houston had asked him to protect. Ryan also knew that this theory on the "H" file homicides would be laughed out of any court in the country. The story was too bizarre, almost insane, and that if he went public with his information just before an election, he would be ridiculed and probably defeated; so he kept the theory to himself and made plans to personally investigate Jonestown immediately following the election in November.
Just as Jones had used Bob Houston's love of music to control him, so too, he used Leo Ryan's love of mystery and investigative intrigue to control him. Though he did not realize it, Ryan was exactly where Jones and the CIA wanted him to be; destined to die in Guyana.
The six "H" file homicides and the several additional murders outlined in this chapter, as well as most of the violent deaths described elsewhere in this work, have more than just Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple in common. Each murder, including that of Congressman Ryan, remains unsolved. No one has ever been arrested for the crimes, which attests to Jones' power, influence and immunity from prosecution.
 Lane, P. 249.
 Ibid. P. 249.
 Kilduff and Javers, p. 126
 Klineman, Butler and Conn, pp. 111-112.
 Phil Kerns with Doug Wead, People's Temple --People's Tom b (Plainfield, New Jersey: Logos International, 1979), p. 138.
 Klineman, Butler and Conn, p. 212.
 Ibid., pp. 214-215.
 Kerns and Wead, p. 139.
 Klinemam Butler and Conn, p. 217. (parentheses appear in the original.
 Jeannie Mills, Six Years With God: Life Inside Reverend Jim Jones's People's Temple (New York: A & W Publishers, Inc., 1979), p. 248.
 Ibid., P. 249.
 Ibid. P. 273.
 Klineman Butler and Conn, P. 221.
 Ibid., P. 221.
 Ibid. P. 107.  Ibid., P. 209.
 Ibid., P. 209.
 Ibid., P. 209.
 Ibid. P. 209.
 Kerns and Wead, P. 143.
 Ibid. P. 124.
 Ibid., P. 144.
 Klineman Butler and Conn, pp. 211-212.
 Kerns and Wead, pp. 145-146.
 Klineman Butler and Conn, P. 218.
 Lane, P. 430.
 Yee and Layton, P. 159.  Ibid. P. 159.
 Kilduff and Javers, P. 129.
 Reston P. 280.
 Lawrence Grobel, "Playboy Interview: Patricia Hearst," Playboy, XXIX (March 1982), P. 8 8.
 Symbionese Liberation Army: Terrorism From Left," New York Times, February 23, 1974, p. 62, col. 2.
 Ibid., p. 62, col. 3.
[100 ] Ibid., p. 62, col. 3.
[101 ] I bid., p. 62, col. 1.
[102 ] L ane, p. 257.
[103 ] Ibid., p. 262. (footnote)
[104 ] Hearst Pledges $2 Million in Gesture to Kidnappers," New York Times, February 19, 1974, p. 1, col. 1.
[105 ] Grobel, p. 98.
[106 ] L ane, p. 55. (Parentheses appear in the original).
[107 ] G robel, p. 88.
[108 ] Kilduff and Javers, p. 128.
[109 ] Naipaul, p. 180.
[110 ] Ibid., pp. 98-99.
[111 ] John Peer Nugent, White Night: The Untold Story of What Happened Before - And Beyond - Jonestown (New York: Rawson, Wade Publishers, Inc., 1979), pp. 93-94.