913 people died in Jonestown, a small compound carved out of the jungles of Guyana, a small country on the northeast coast of South America. The media at the time reported that it was a fanatical group of followers of the Rev. Jim Jones, lead to the jungles of South America to get away from the oppression of life here in America. They also reported that his followers willingly followed their leader into the great beyond by sipping on some cyanide cocktails, laced with purple Kool-Aid. In fact, the notion of a mass suicide at Jonestown has been repeated so many times that it is accepted as fact, and the association is so strong that when most people hear “Jonestown,” the first thing which pops in their head is “Kool-Aid.” This association is false.
The source of the “Kool-Aid Suicide” stories was the U.S. State Department, which presented the story immediately after the “suicides” were reported as though it was the only obvious truth. A U.S. Army spokesman pronounced with complete authority, “No autopsies are needed. The cause of death is not an issue here.” The bodies were then allowed to rot in the jungle. Despite the lack of need for autopsies, Dr. C. Leslie Mootoo, the top Guyanese pathologist, was at Jonestown hours after the deaths, and, refusing the assistance of U.S. pathologists, accompanied the teams that examined the bodies. His conclusions? Dr. Mootoo found fresh needle marks at the back of the left shoulder blades on 80 to 90 percent of the victims. Others had been shot or strangled. A surviving witness stated that those who resisted were forced by armed guards to comply. Dr. Mootoo’s opinion, and that of the Guyanese grand jury investigating Jonestown, was that all but three (only two of which were suicides) were murdered by “persons unknown.”
The original death count was 408 (an odd number to use if the number was an estimate), with the added claim that 700 had fled into the jungle. The final total was changed to 913. To explain this rather minor difference in arithmetic, American authorities first explained that those backward ignorant Guyanese “could not count.” Perhaps because the first “official” explanation of the bad math was so insulting, it was then proposed that they missed a pile of bodies, as if a pile of dead bodies is something that is easily overlooked. Finally, the official explanation that settled the whole question was presented: Bodies were stacked on top of each other.
Of the 150 photos taken of the massacre, not one shows any body lying under any others. Those who first worked on the bodies, to release the gasses of decay, had to puncture the dead, making it unlikely that they missed anyone. These facts aside, one must wonder how 408 bodies — 82 belonging to children — could cover 505 others. Talk about bad math. With minor exceptions, pictures show the dead were found in neat rows, face down. The pictures also show drag marks leading to the bodies, indicating that victims were murdered elsewhere and placed there by someone else.
These facts have lead to a more likely conclusion: 408 was indeed the correct original body count. The other 505 were hunted down and slaughtered, then dragged back. But who would do such a thing, and why? Furthermore, why were American officials giving such deceptive answers about Jonestown? To answer these questions, one must unravel the mystery of a man named Jim Jones. Jones became a Bible-thumping “faith healer,” using wet chicken livers as evidence of cancer which he removed by “divine powers.”
He adopted eight children, some black, some white. Already the stench of criminal activity surrounded him, and his landlady referred to him as “a gangster who used the Bible instead of a gun.” Fortunately for Jones, the local police chief at the time was Dan Mitrione, a friend from childhood. Mitrione kept him from being arrested or run out of town. Mitrione would later enter the International Police Academy, a CIA front for training counterinsurgency and torture techniques.
Despite having few sources for known funds, Jones found enough money to travel with his wife and family to Brazil in 1961. Coincidentally, Mitrione was there as well, having advanced quickly in the IPA. Mitrione had honed his skills at torture and assassination by practicing on kidnapped beggars. He himself was later kidnapped and murdered by guerrillas in Uruguay, an incident which became the basis of the Costa Gavras film State of Siege. Jones made regular trips to Belo Horizonte, site of CIA headquarters in Brazil — and Mitrione’s town of residence.
Apparently, this wasn’t the only curious intelligence link to Jones. He told some of his neighbors that he was involved in the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence. The U.S. embassy provided Jones with transportation, groceries, and a large home. Considering his dear friendship to Mitrione and the funding of “ministries” in Latin America by the CIA, the theory that Jones was a U.S. intelligence asset makes quite a bit of sense.
In any case, according to his neighbor, Jones “lived like a rich man.” Soon after the JFK assassination, Jones returned to the states with $10,000. In 1965, he formed the first People’s Temple in Ukiah, California, and set up Happy Havens Rest Home. Without trained personnel or proper licensing, Jones’ camp drew in prisoners, the elderly, people from mental institutions, and 150 foster children, many of whom were transferred by court order. Among those who contacted him: “missionaries” from World Vision (an international evangelical order that often fronts for the CIA); the local chapter head to the John Birch Society; and leaders of the Republican party, for whom his “church” members conducted voter organization and fund-raising activities for the Dick Nixon ’68 campaign. Jones’ advisors included a mercenary from UNITA, the CIA-backed Angola army. Also jumping on board was the Layton family, whose patriarch, U.C.-Berkeley chemist Dr. Laurence Laird Layton, had worked on the Manhattan Project. Dr. Layton was also chief of the Army’s Chemical Warfare Division in the early 1950’s. (Mrs. Layton was the daughter of Hugo Phillips, a German banker/stockbroker who became rich representing Siemans & Halske and I.G. Farben, two notorious Nazi Holocaust profiteers.)
Despite his rather right-wing background, Jones suddenly declared himself a liberal socialist — in fact, he called himself a dual reincarnation of both Jesus Christ and Lenin. At this point, a cloud of suspicion began to gather around his church, which was staffed by jack-booted armed thugs who dressed in black uniforms.
Jones took everything he could from his followers, much of it in the form of welfare and social security checks, using blackmail, extortions, and any other available means. The local press reported about seven mysterious deaths of those who attempted to leave the “church” due to conflicts with Jones. Accusations of kidnapping, beatings, and sexual abuse began to circulate. To escape controversy, Jones moved to San Francisco and became an important fundraiser for the Bay area political establishment. Soon, he was schmoozing with the liberal and radical elite, meeting with (among others) Rosalynn Carter and Angela Davis.
Jones was rewarded by being put in charge of the city Housing Commission, and key followers were awarded jobs in the Welfare Department. The bulk of Jones’ flock came from the unemployed and dispossessed people found there. The cult preyed on the poor and helpless, going out of its way to enlist women, children and minorities. Many members were recruited directly from San Francisco mental hospitals. However, the move to San Francisco did little to quiet the controversy surrounding his “church,” and a 1977 expose put Jones on the defensive. He then moved his Utopia to Guyana, aided once again by the U.S. Embassy. After receiving complaints lodged by relatives of cult members, Congressman Leo Ryan visited Jonestown on November 18, 1978 to investigate allegations of human rights abuses. Congressman Ryan, a noted CIA critic, had authored the Hughes-Ryan Amendment, which would have required the CIA to disclose to Congress — in advance — details of all covert operations. The State department offered Ryan no answers or assistance, despite numerous inquiries. He arrived with U.S. embassy official Richard Dwyer, as well as some journalists. Among the reporters was Tim Reiterman, who had covered the Patty Hearst story for the San Francisco Examiner.
In all likelihood, Ryan already suspected what was really going on at Jonestown. That was when all hell broke loose.
At the airstrip, Leo Ryan soon became the first congressman to die in the line of duty, along with four reporters. (The Hughes-Ryan Amendment was killed in Congress soon afterwards.) The assassins were described by witnesses as “glassy eyed,” “mechanically-walking zombies,” and “devoid of any emotion.” Dwyer (video above indicates Dwyer actually left before the tractor arrived and the shooting began) and Reiterman were also shot. Soon after that, the mass slaughter began. A plausible explanation for the events that unfolded is that Jim Jones (or someone else) ordered the murders after Ryan’s unexpected visit threatened to expose what was happening. In the chaos that followed, a mass extermination was carried out.
Just who were the zombie assassins? Well, besides the 913 dead, 167 survivors returned from the camp. All news reports concede that there were at least 1100 individuals at the camp (and most reports place the number at 1200.) Who are these 200 or more people unaccounted for? The survivors report that there was a special all-white group that was well-armed, well-treated and free to exit the compound. These guards were never accounted for by any news reports.
Perhaps it is these same guards (assuming the total population was 1200) whom a congressional aide was referring to in an Associated Press quote which stated, “There are 120 white, brainwashed assassins out from Jonestown awaiting the trigger word to pick up their hit.” Of course, they may have had a little help. Over 300 U.S. Green Berets — trained for CIA covert assassinations — were in the area at the time. So were nearly 600 British Black Watch commandos, who were in Guyana conducting a “training exercise.” Suddenly, the death toll seems relatively low. The killings didn’t stop in Guyana. Nine days later, San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey