Friday, April 19, 2013
Newly Surfaced Articles that Clearly Demonstrate the Reins of Control Are Slipping From the Hands of the Master Narrators
December 17, 1978, The Washington Post, Jonestown Is an Eerie Ghost Town Now; Soldiers Patrol Amid Rotted Cheese Sandwiches and Scattered Clothing, by Charles A. Krause, Washington Post Foreign Service,
JONESTOWN, Guyana—Just four weeks after the murders and suicides of more than 900 people here stunned the world, the jungle community that the Rev. Jim Jones created in his image is a ghost town.
Only a small and jumpy contingent of Guyanese troops—still afraid that Peoples Temple gunmen may be lurking in the surrounding rain forest—occupies the settlement where hundreds of men, women and children lived just a month ago.
The mounds of bodies that once littered the grounds around the community's central pavilion are gone now, shipped to the United States and awaiting burial.
But reminders of what happened here—the attack at nearby Port Kaituma that killed Rep. Leo Ryan (D-Calif.) and four others and the suicide-murder of more than 900 members of Jones' cult—stand out jarringly in the jungle quietude.
I returned to Jonestown the other day, the fourth time I had been there in less than a month.
The first two times, I accompanied Ryan and saw Jonestown alive and well—but unknowingly, on the brink
of its destruction. The third time I returned to see the aftermath of the tragedy, the bodies piled atop one another, many linked arm-in-arm, the agony of their poisoning evident on their contorted faces.
This last time, Jonestown was still, except for the troops. An eerie silence had replaced the music, the talk and the tension that marked the first two were so much a part of the third. visits, and a kind of emptiness had replaced the bodies and the gore that were so much a part of the third.
This time, only physical reminders of what had happened here on the afternoon of Nov. 18—when Ryan spent long hours trying to learn the truth about Jonestown from its residents and leaders--were, present. But they were enough to bring back memories of what I had seen and smelled and heard then.
In the communal kitchen were hundreds of cheese sandwiches, uneaten and rotting, a part of the meal that had been prepared for Ryan and his party before they left for their rendezvous with death at Port Kaituma. These were the cheese sandwiches that Peoples Temple's lawyer Mark Lane later said he had refused to eat because someone told him they might contain tranquilizers or more frightening drugs.
In the small, two-bedroom wooden house where Jones lived with at least two of his mistresses, shirts belonging to the Peoples Temple leader still hang in the walk-in closet, almost as if Jones—dead nearly a month now—were coming back to collect them.
Along the muddy path that served as a sidewalk for much of the commune, other reminders of the life and death that were Jonestown lie half buried in the fertile soil. A pair of woman's eyeglasses, a towel, a pair of shorts, packets of unopened Flavor Aid lie scattered about waiting for the final cleanup that may one day return Jonestown to the tidy, if overcrowded, little community it once was.
The Guyanese government of Prime Minister Forbes Burnham was unpopular before the events of Nov. 18 and it is more unpopular now because of charges that Jones had special ties to the ruling party that enabled him to skirt the law. Burnham's government has not yet decided what to do with the commune that Jones' followers carved out of the rain forest.
Indeed, Burnham and his government do not seem to know how to explain crucial questions about Jonestown—how it was that gold and diamonds and currency worth more than $1.5 million were found among the ruins, how Jonestown became filled with guns and ammunition, in apparent violation of Guyanese laws, or how it was that the Peoples Temple regularly brought from abroad food and other goods whose import is strictly prohibited, because of a serious economic crisis here.
Burnham has granted a couple of interviews to foreign journalists after what was, for him, more of a political than a social or human crisis. But he has yet to Issue a statement explaining Jonestown to his own people.
Neither the government nor the government-controlled press here has told the country's citizens that as many as 10 Guyanese died with the Americans at Jonestown. So far, the Burham government , has only announced that one Guyanese was among the dead.
Thousands of pages. of documents and scores of tapes recovered from Jonestown have yet to be released, in part, many observers here believe, because some of the Peoples Temple records may be embarrassing to the government.
Nonetheless, the police, under the direction of Assistant Commissioner direction of Assistant Commissioner C. A. (Skip) Roberts, are continuing their investigation of the killings at Port Kaituma and the mass suicide-murder at Jonestown, trying to determine whether any of those who survived may have committed criminal acts.
Three inquests related to the Jonestown tragedy are under way.
The first, at Matthew's Ridge, about 35 miles from Jonestown, will officially determine the causes of death of the 909 persons whose remains were found here a month ago. This will allow authorities in the United States to issue death certificates for the bodies taken by military airlift to Dover, Del., Air Force Base.
The other inquests will determine whether two Peoples Temple members charged with murder and attempted murder should be brought to trial in connection with their alleged roles in the Port Kaituma killings and the deaths of four members of the Peoples Temple who were found in Georgetown with their throats slashed shortly after the suicide-murder at Jonestown.
Meanwhile, a federal grand jury in San Francisco has been impaneled to determine whether a conspiracy to kill Ryan extended beyond Guyana to the United States.
Early next year the House International Affairs Committee will investigate whether the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Georgetown were derelict in their efforts to uncover what the real conditions were at Jonestown. It appears that the Rev. Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple will not fade from memory soon. Trials here and possibly in the United States, the congressional investigation and the unending details that continue to fascinate much of the world ensure that the Jonestown tragedy will remain alive for months, if not years, to come.
The central questions—whether Jones ordered Ryan killed, why he ordered his own followers poisoned and why so many of the 909 who died apparently did so willingly—may, never be answered completely.
But a host of related questions, such as Jones' flirtation with the Soviet Embassy here, his ties to the Guyanese government and the culpability, if any, of those who escaped the suicide-murder rite, will probably eventually be put to rest.
For the past month, a bizarre relationship has existed in Georgetown among those who survived, in one way or another, Jones' final desperate hours
Twelve of those who left Jonestown with Ryan, known locally and abroad as "the defectors," continue in limbo at the Park Hotel. Several of them have testified as material witnesses to the killings at Port Kaituma and they are expected to be allowed to leave Guyana this week.
Five Peoples Temple members who escaped the suicide-murder rite, either immediately before it began or while it was under way, continue to live at the same hotel, unsure whether the Guyanese intend to charge them with a crime or whether they eventually will be let go.
The defectors are hardly willing to talk to the escapees, believing that they are still loyal to Jones, even though he is dead. The escapees fear that if they are repatriated to the United States, they may be killed by , irate relatives of persons who died at Jonestown.
Meanwhile, a third group, now numbering about 20, continues to live at the Peoples Temple headquarters in Georgetown, where they were the day Ryan was murdered and Jonestown was consumed by cyanide. Most of those still at the Georgetown house were among the elite when Jonestown was functioning and some of the defectors have charged that, this group is the most dangerous of all.
In this group is the Jonestown basketball team, which some defectors have said was composed of trained marksmen whom they believe may return to the United States determined to kill "enemies" of the. Temple, whom they blame for destroying it.
None of these groups fully trusts the others, reflecting the paranoia that consumed Jim Jones at the end. All of them know, as Tim Carter, one of the escapees said the other night, that "Jonestown will haunt us all until we die."
December 19, 1978, Washjington Post, Jones' Son Claims Role In Killing of 4 in Guyana, by Charles A. Krause, Washington PoSt Foreign Service
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Dec. 18--Stephen Jones, the 19-year-old son of the late Rev. Jim Jones, sarcastically blurted out during a tense court proceeding here today that he ordered the throats of four Peoples Temple members slashed shortly after word the Nov. 18 mass suicide-murder of Jonestown reached the Temple's headquarters in Georgetown.
Jones' statement came during reexamination of his testimony at an inquest now underway here to determine whether Charles Beikman, who has been charged with actually killing the four, will stand trial in connection with the deaths.
After his court appearance, an obviously shaken and confused Jones said he had made the statement only because of hostile questions from the prosecutor, Nandram Kissoon. Jones denied that he actually had anything..to do with ordering the deaths of Linda Sharon Amos and her three children.
C. A. (Skip) Roberts, Guyana's assistant police commissioner for criminal matters, said later that he will investigate Jones' "confession" and will decide Tuesday whether or not Jones should be charged. Roberts said Jones already had been investigated in connection with the four slayings. Roberts said he did not believe new evidence would be uncovered to warrant charges against Jones.
Jones, a charismatic young man known to have a quick temper, has been detained since Nov. 18 at the Peoples Temple's house here, where he was staying when the mass suicide-murder occurred and where Amos and her three children died. He was not, according to him, present at the house when the deaths occurred, however.
Meanwhile, the Soviet embassy here, obviously embarrassed by letters made public yesterday directing that more than $7 million in Peoples Temple money be transferred to the Soviet Union, said today that it knew nothing of the bequest or of the letters and had made no effort to collect
Sources close to the Guyanese government said that the Soviet embassy had not been notified of the letters or their content before the documents were disclosed in court yesterday. One source said that the decision not to inform the Soviets of the letters reflects a growing chill between the socialist government of Prime Minister Forbes Burnham and the Soviet Union, which has not provided Burnham with the economic assistance he had hoped for.
Aleksander Kramarenko, who identified himself as an attache at the Soviet embassy in Georgetown, after
first saying that the embassy "wouldn't like to make any comment on the Jonestown tragedy," gave noncommittal answers to questions asked by American reporters.
Asked if the Soviet government would accept the Peoples Temple money, which is deposited in banks in Panama and Venezuela, Kramarenko said, "We haven't heard anything about that. It seems strange to us" that the money would have been bequeathed to the Soviet Union, he added.
Kramarenko said that "our government has nothing to do with that organization and can have no relationship with that organization.
December 21, 1978, Associated Press / The Charleston News and Courier, page 15-D, Cultist's hearing held in Guyana, by Tom Fenton,
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP)-—Larry Layton says he wanted to kill Rep. Leo J. Ryan, D-Calif., because he believed Ryan and others "were working in conjunction with the CIA to smear the Peoples Temple."
The comment was in a statement Layton gave police that was offered as evidence Wednesday in a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to bring the 32-year-old cult member to trial on charges of conspiracy to murder the congressman.
Ryan, three newsmen and a Temple member were shot to death at an airstrip near the cult's jungle settlement of Jonestown Nov. 18. The shootings inspired a mass suicide-murder that same day in which more than 900 cult members died.
Conviction carries a mandatory sentence of death by hanging but it can be commuted to life. The last hanging in Guyana was in 1970. Defense attorney Rex McKay objected to introduction of the statement. He is expected to try to show it was not made voluntarily, which would make it inadmissible as evidence under Guyana law.
The statement said: "I Larry Layton take full responsibility for the deaths that took place at the Port Kaituma airstrip.
"I had begged the Bishop Jim Jones (the Temple's leader) that I be allowed to bring down the plane but he disapproved. My reason for suggesting this was because I felt those people were working in conjunction with the CIA to smear the Peoples Temple and smear Guyana.
"I got a gun from a friend of mine, one poncho, and I went to the airstrip intending to bring down the plane.
"But when the shooting started I started shooting as I thought that it was all too late. I don't know why I did it."
Prosecutor Nandram Kissoon said if the statement is thrown out in the hearing, it could still be introduced during a trial.
November 28, 1978, Associated Press / Observer-Reporter [Washington, PA], Of Death Camp: Guyana Police Quiz Survivors, (also found as: Guyana police quiz 3 survivors, by George Esper,)
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) --Police say a decision will be made by Wednesday on which of the 80 survivors of the Peoples Temple suicide-murders can return home and which will be held as suspects and material witnesses.
Three members of the sect were questioned by police at headquarters Monday, but Assistant Commissioner Skip Roberts said no charges were filed. He would not say what the questioning covered.
"We just want to question them some more and go, back over their story," Roberts said. He said 'they would be released but did not say when.
The three were identified as Tim Carter, 28, his brother Michael, 20, both of Boise, Idaho, and Michael Prokes, 32, a former Modesto, Calif.. television newsman.
The State Department said in Washington it, expects survivors to start back to the United States from Georgetown on Tuesday but there was no sign from Guyanese officials that would happen.
Prokes and the Carters had been jailed but were released Saturday, taken to the rundown Park Hotel and told to stay available for questioning.
Police have filed murder charges against two other cult members In connection with the Nov. 18 deaths of Rep. Leo J. Ryan, D-Calif., and four others at the airstrip at Port Kaituma near Jonestown and the murders of a mother and her three children in the sect's temple at Georgetown the same day.
Larry Layton, 32, San Francisco, has been charged in the airstrip murders of Ryan, three journalists and a woman sect member who was trying to flee with Ryan from Jonestown.
Roberts said Guyanese officials were making, a complete inventory of Jonestown but that no decision had been reached on what to do with the settlement, 150 miles northwest of the capital.
So far only one cult member, 84-year-old Miguel DePina, who was in a Georgetown hospital during the suicides the murders that left 918 dead, has returned from Guyana to the United States alive.
He arrived in New York on a flight from Guyana Sunday accompanied by his grandson, Michael Woodward of Long Beach. Calif.
"He can't talk. He's in real bad shape. Real bad," Woodward said. DePina's wife of 80 years was among the 908 Americans and one Guyanese found dead in Jonestown. Most died after drinking a fruit drink laced with cyanide. Some who resisted were force-fed the lethal mixture.
November 19, 1978, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, page 1, Ryan Reported Dead, Mark Lane Wounded In Guyana Shooting, [Continued page 14 Rep. Ryan Reported Killed in Guyana]
November 28, 1978, Associated Press, FBI releases Jones' note
WASHINGTON (AP)-- The FBI on Monday released the contents of a note found on the body of dead cult leader Jim Jones but said it had not been able to determine who wrote it.
A government source said the note appeared to be written by a close follower of Jones,endorsing the mass suicide decision.
The handwritten note said:
"Dad: I see no way out--I agree with your decision— I fear only that without you the world may not make it to communism --"
It was signed by a nickname, but the FBI would not divulge it. An FBI agent, Dave Cassens, said it was not a nickname used by Jones.
Jones' followers often called him '"Dad" or "Father."
In another portion of the note, apparently in the same handwriting, were these words:
"For my part — I am more than tired of this wretched, merciless planet and the hell it holds for so many masses of beautiful people--- thank you for the only life I've known."
The word "only" was underlined twice.
"Until adequate handwriting of Jones and other possible authors are obtained, it 'will not be 'possible to identify the writer," Cassens said.
The note was found on Jones' body after it was airlifted from Guyana to Dover Air Force Base, ' Del. last Thursday, With the corpses of other Peoples Temple members who joined in the mass suicide-murder ritual in Jonestown on Nov. 18.
An airman spotted the note in the left pocket of the shirt Jones died in as the cult leader's body was being fingerprinted by FBI agents to verify an identity.
Cassens said the bureau his samples of Jones' signature but "they are not adequate to identify or eliminate Jones as the writer of this note."
FBI handwriting analysis experts examined it Monday in a laboratory here after disinfecting it.
December 23, 1978, Washington Post, Guyanese Panel Rules All but 2 Were Murdered, by Charles A. Krause,
MATTHEWS RIDGE, Guyana, Dec. 22 — A coroner's jury ruled here to day that all but two of the more than 900 persons who died at Jonestown Nov. 13 were murdered because they were coerced into taking poison by cult leader Jim Jones and his henchmen.
The jury's rejection of the notion that his followers committed mass suicide by drinking the poison voluntarily was based on its conclusion that "Jim Jones masterminded the situated," According to the jury's foreman, Albert Graham.
"The man made people believe he was a god," Graham said of Jones, "and naturally they moved to his command."
After some confusion, the jury, composed of five laborers from this mining outpost about 35 miles from Jonestown in remote northwestern Guyana, also ruled that Jones was murdered by "some person or persons unknown."
The jury first announced that it had decided that Jones had committed suicide, apparently basing its conclusion on testimony by Dr. Leslie Mootoo, a pathologist, that Jones was shot from very close range in the "suicide area" of the brain, above and slightly behind his ear.
But Magistrate Haroon Bacchus shouted at the jurors, asking them, "What evidence do you have to support suicide?"
Bacchus told the jurors that Mootoo had stated that the gun was found 20 Yards away from Jones' body, and that was inconsistent with a finding of suicide. What the jurors did not know was that the first police officials who reached Jonestown after the mass killings had told reporters that the gun was found no more than five or ten feet from Jones' body on the podium of Jonestown's central pavillion.
In any event, the jurors filed back out, deliberated for 10 more minutes and returned to announce that "some person or persons unknown is clearly responsible for the death of James Warren Jones."
Magistrate Bacchus and the jurors agreed that two of Jones' mistresses, Anne Elizabeth Moore and Maria Katsaris, were the only ones to have committed
See GUYANA, A12, Col. 4
GUYANA, From A1
suicide of their free will. Moore fired a shot into her own head and Katsaris swallowed poison, evidence showed.
The jury's finding that the rest were, in effect. victims of murder was not based, however, on unconfirmed news reports of the past week that many of those found dead at Jonestown had apparently been killed by poison injected into them by the Jonestown medical staff after they refused to drink the poison.
The only evidence introduced during the 10-day inquest that indicated that anyone might have been injected with the cyanide poison came from Dr. Mootoo, who is the Guyanese government's official pathologist.
In a letter that was introduced to augment his oral testimony, Mootoo said "several" of the 39 bodies he had examined on the ground in Jonestown had needle marks on their arms. He drew no conclusions from this finding in his letter.
Other officials have said privately that these victims could have chosen to be injected rather than drink the poison because it is difficult to hold a person still enough for an injection if the person is resisting violently.
It is also possible that the needle marks could have been made by injections prior to the "white night," of death. Some Jonestown survivors have told of injections of tranquilizers that were given to troublemakers and old people.
Today's ruling has the practical effect of clearing the way for authorities in the United States to issue death certificates for the 914 bodies airlifted by the U.S. military from Jonestown to Dover.
The coroner's jury found that cyanide poisoning was responsible for the deaths of all but three of those who died inside Jonestown. Besides the gunshot deaths of Jones and Moore, another unidentified victim found in the Jonestown psychiatric ward in a pool of blood may have been killed by a bullet rather than poison.
A Guyanese police official testified today that neither he nor U.S. authorities are certain about how that mail died. The jury left the cause of his death open.
The jurors deliberated a total of 17 minutes before reaching their findings, which were clearly influenced by Magistrate Bacchus. At times, he berated the jurors and made strong suggestions to them of what he thought happened during the final hours at Jonestown. Jury foreman Graham expressed displeasure both with Bacchus and his own jury's findings after the inquest ended. Asked about testimony by Odell Rhodes, one of the Jonestown survivors, that at the beginning, at least, many Peoples Temple members seemed to take the poison voluntarily, Graham said: "I was not there, so how will I ever know?"
But Graham went on to explain the jurors had reasoned that even if some of those who lived at the agricultural commune drank the poison of grape drink, cyanide and tranquilizers, "they were under the influence of Jones at the time." Since Jones Clearly ordered the deaths and armed guards were there to enforce his order, the jurors reasoned, he was criminally responsible.
To some extent, the debate over whether members of the Peoples Temple committed suicide or were murdered depends on how suicide and murder are defined. The hundreds of children who died at Jonestown were clearly murdered, whether or not their mothers gave them their poison, because they did not have the mental ability to choose to live or to die.
According to Rhodes and Stanley Clayton, another survivor who witnessed much of the killing before he escaped, others made no move to drink the poison and were escorted to their deaths by the armed guards.
Most did not actively protest, but neither did they choose death willingly, Rhodes and Clayton said.
But a large number of those who died did so according to both of the living witnesses without having to be forced in any way. Jones exhorted them "to die with dignity," and they approached the vat of poison without further persuasion.
The jurors concluded that this Jones, who convinced them that enemies of the Peoples Temple were set to destroy it—especiallY after Rep. Leo J. Ryan and four others were killed by gunmen sent from Jonestown. These Peoples Temple members may well have believed they would be tortured and killed as Jones had told them, and so chose poison instead.
Others believe that this group of persons simply took the poison because they believed in Jones and believed for political or religious reasons that those who lived at Jonestown, would, after death, "meet in another place," as they were told. Although a certain mass hysteria occurred at the time, it can be argued that these people chose to die voluntarily, in effect committing suicide.
March 13, 1993, The Baltimore Afro-American, page A11, Guyana Government orders halt to destruction of Jonestown,