Posted on November 22nd.1998
Stabroek News

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See here for a full Analysis of Jonestown


Rev Jim Jones at a political rally in the US. At right is former US president, Jimmy Carter.

Going home: Military personnel preparing and sealing the aluminium caskets to fly the bodies back to the US.
They escaped it all: From left Deborah Tochette, 23; Paula Adams, 23; Stephan Jones, 19; and basketball coach Lee Ingram speaking to the press after the mass suicide 20 years ago.

The cult of death Jonestown: 20 years after

On November 18, 1978, some 900 members of the People's Temple Cult, founded by Indiana-born Rev Jim Jones, died in a ritual of mass suicide and murder at Jonestown near Port Kaituma in Guyana's jungle. A visiting United States congressman, three news reporters and cult defectors were shot to death.

The majority of the people were United States citizens from San Francisco, California, where the cult had been based before Jones started moving his flock to the Guyana jungle in 1974. The congressman, Leo Ryan, had come to Guyana at the insistence of relatives of some cult members who had reported that their relatives at Jonestown were being held against their will, beaten and subjected to suicide drills. During Ryan's visit to the cult site, some 20 members decided to defect, some of them were shot dead at Port Kaituma airstrip as they were about to board a Guyana Airways chartered plane back to Timehri. The rest of the cult members in Jonestown were fed, some forcibly, a mixture of cyanide and Kool Aid. Some cult members who were in Georgetown, were murdered by Jones's lieutenants. Jones's son Stephan and members of a People's Temple basketball team, who were also in Goergetown escaped harm. Jones himself was found dead with a single bullet wound to the head.


To today, no one has been able to completely understand why it all happened. Jim Jones has been called charismatic and mad and he somehow managed to persuade more than 1,000 people to follow him and maybe half that number to voluntarily join him in death.


Tots in a Jonestown nursery before the massacre.


Close in death: Members of a family cling to each other in death at Jonestown.
She slept through it all! Seventy-six-year-old Odella Rhodes slept throughout the mass suicide/murder at Jonestown. She was found alive by police and army personnel.
The youngest survivor, Jakarri Wilson then three years old with his mother. She escaped with him through the jungle
Jones's cache: Army personnel examine weapons found at Jonestown