November 24, 1978, AP - Ocala Star Banner, page 12A, U.S. Prepares To Remove Remaining Bodies, by Lew Wheaton, Associated Press Writer,
An AP article written and published "six days" after the death ritual in Guyana, which represents a state of knowledge just shy of the turning point where a death count of 408 first begins to inexplicably rise to more than double that amount. At this stage, "U.S. forces were flying home the last of 408" victims, without as yet having uncovered the bodies of 501 victims said be lying undisclosed underneath the departed corpses.
Quoting two survivors, Gerald and Dale Parks, who estimated that between 100 and 200 cultists were left unaccounted for, represents a sense of the total size of the community as given by members themselves of between 500 and 600. According to the article, that is at the low end of the various estimates of between 100 to 800 given by officials and survivors, meaning that it was some officials who were overestimating the total size of the community by as much as 600 people.
In an unrelated matter, the article quotes Odell Rhodes, "a teacher who survived the poison-drinking suicide rite." According to an FBI memo, at this stage the FBI was already aware that Odell Rhodes was a member of an elite community "hit squad," and should be considered dangerous. But late in the week following the death ritual, Rhodes was announcing to reporters that "he had information that could lead to murder charges in connection with the Ryan slayings, but said he wanted to tell his story to the Guyanese police." This would mean that Rhodes had been insufficiently interviewed by Guyanese authorities up until that point.
Lastly, the article quotes "Hyacinth Thrush, a 76-year-old San Francisco woman crippled by arthritis," who "told a reporter she slept through the mass suicide and later dragged herself to the scene. She said she found 'everyone was still. Some were sitting up with their eyes closed. Others were lying down. I saw my sister. I walked over and touched her to wake her up. She was very cold.'"
Since in none of the 150 photographs of victim remains are any seen positioned "sitting up," it would indicate victims were repositioned before the photographs were taken. Furthermore, since the primary layer of 408 victims, as depicted photographed in "piles," show the vast majority lying prone and not supine, the ability of the arthritic old women to spot, approach, and even touch her sister becomes highly unlikely. This supports the theory that the scene was doctored before evidentiary photographs were taken, or that the photographs themselves have been altered.
Thrush, upon her reentry to the United States, was said to be too traumatized to give further interviews. However, Hyacinth Thrush displays in her interview awfully advanced grammar for someone who wrote her own memoir of Jonestown with Marian K. Towne, The Onliest One Alive: Surviving Jonestown (1995), or perhaps the title was Ms. Towne's contribution.
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) -- U.S. forces were flying home the last of 408 mass suicide victims from the Peoples Temple commune at Jonestown and were trying to figure out how many cultists may be missing in the dense jungles around the camp.
U.S. Air Force Capt. John Moscatelli said he expects to be ordered to conduct helicopter searches of the jungle after the body evacuation is complete.
Thirty-two survivors have been located so far. Most of them were believed to have fled the Jonestown commune during the bizarre suicide rite six days ago.
The Rev. Jim Jones led his Peoples' Temple followers in the suicide after a squad from the commune allegedly gunned down a U.S. congressman, three newsmen and a defecting cultist. Rep. Leo Ryan, D-Calif., was in Guyana investigating the commune.
Three of the surviving cultists have been arrested by authorities in Guyana in connection with the killings of Ryan and his party. One was charged with murder.
Officials and survivors have variously estimated that from 100 to 800 members of the Jonestown commune are not yet accounted for.
There has been some speculation that many cultists are hiding out in the jungle fearing reprisals for having escaped the suicide rite, but other sources say only a handful of Jonestown residents may have fled because estimates of the camp's population were put too high.
Gerald Parks, 45, a Springfield, Ohio, native who came to Jonestown with his mother, wife and three children last year, said he thought at least 100 survivors were wandering in the jungle. His son, Dale, 27, estimated there could be as many as 200. Both men were attempting to leave Jonestown with Ryan and survived the airport ambush in which the congressman was killed.
Odell Rhodes, 36, a teacher who survived the poison-drinking suicide rite, told reporters he had information that could lead to murder charges in connection with the Ryan slayings, but said he wanted to tell his story to the Guyanese police.
Hyacinth Thrush, a 76-year-old San Francisco woman crippled by arthritis, told a reporter she slept through the mass suicide and later dragged herself to the scene. She said she found "everyone was still. Some were sitting up with their eyes closed. Others were lying down. I saw my sister. I walked over and touched her to wake her up. She was very cold."
November 24, 1978, St. Petersburg Times - AP, Survivor tells of awakening to find a haven of death, by Peter Arnett, AP Special Correspondent,
GEORGETOWN, Guyana --- A crippled 76-year-old California woman who slept through the Jonestown mass suicide said Thursday she spent two days trying to awaken her dead sister before rescuers insisted she leave.
Hyacinth Thrush, one of the few people known to have survived the weekend of death that took more than 400 lives, told The Associated Press in an interview in her hotel room that she awakened Sunday morning in her room thinking residents of the Peoples Temple settlement were sleeping.
The U.S. and Guyanese governments say 408 people died in the bizarre suicide ritual, Many cult members are believed to have fled into the jungle, but fewer than 50 survivors have been located
Miss Thrush said she dragged herself from her cottage to the elderly people part of the meeting pavilion and discovered "everyone very still. Some were sitting up with their eyes closed. Others were lying down. I saw my sister. I walked over and touched her to wake her up. She was very cold."
Miss Thrush, of San Francisco, said she had spent nearly a year a the settlement that became a haven of death Saturday at the end of a fact-finding visit by Rep. Leo Ryan, D-Calif., and news representatives. Ryan and three newsmen were slain by gunfire at a nearby airstrip and shortly thereafter the mass suicides began.
The elderly and frail woman appeared frightened as she sat on her bed and told her grim tale to reporters. She said her sister Emma, came to her late Saturday afternoon and kissed her on the cheek before leaving.
"She didn't tell me anything of what might be happening. She was just very quiet," Miss Thrush said.
Miss Thrush, crippled with arthritis, said she went to sleep and heard nothing during the night Saturday. When she awakened Sunday morning, she said, she was surprised not to hear the usual grunting of the camp's pet gorilla, Mr. Muggs.
"I saw no others around my bungalow and I presumed that they had had another long meeting and were resting at the pavilion. That happened often enough before," she said.
"I was looking for the senior citizens center and I managed to pull myself up the stairs. It was then that I saw all my people," she said.
She said she did not want to believe her sister was dead, and during the next two days she kept going back to the body to comfort her.
Her sister apparently had drunk a fruit-flavored drink containing poison, as had most of the other victims.
Miss Thrush said that early Sunday afternoon, a settlement nurse found her and brought her some sandwiches from the kitchen.
"Then the nurse ran off into the jungle, where she said many others had fled. I waited around and was joined by an old man who had also survived. I was taken out of the settlement by the police Tuesday morning," she said.
She and the others survivors located thus far, most of whom were with Ryan's party at the airport, were kept under "protective custody" in a government billet here until Thursday afternoon.
Then they were allowed to move into the Park Hotel, where they met with newsmen.
Other survivors of the Jonestown murder-suicides told a story of forced labor and "insanity" in the settlement that had been once characterized by a supporter as a "Garden of Eden."
"It was just insanity, what can I say," said Dale Parks, 27, of Ukiah, Calif.
"Some of us have seen our children killed, our parents killed, our brothers and sisters killed. Our minds can only take so much," he said.
Parks and four of his relatives, including his 64-year-old grandmother, Edith Parks, and his 12-year-old sister, Tracy, were at the airport when Ryan, the newsmen and others were killed Saturday.
Parks said his mother, Patricia, 44, died instantly.
"My mother was hit in the head," he said. "The rest of us managed to get away," He said they fled to the jungle and waited for rescue.
He said his family did not witness the mass suicides in Jonestown but he said the Peoples Temple group had been preparing such an action for months.
"It was just something we practiced every now and then. Jim Jones was not going to go down as a bad guy in the press," he said.
The survivors, most of whom were trying to leave with Ryan when the shooting broke out, said the settlement was run like a labor camp.
"We were duped (into going there)," said Gerry Parks, 45, a brother of Dale. "We were treated almost like slaves."
He talked about long hours in hot fields and of meager rations of food.
November 24, 1978, UPI - Beaver County (Pa.) Times, page A-10, Terror: Survivors recall havoc of Jonestown,