Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Jonestown Massacre: A 'Reason' to Die

Sinister Connections

Although the official explanation of the events at "Jonestown" has been widely accepted by the American people, there are many that question its truth. From the moment the first reports of the massacre were released, various theories of the real events leading to the tragedy began to circulate. The most prevalent of these was that the CIA was somehow involved.

The Reverend Jim Jones and San Francisco Mayor Moscone, who was murdered after the 'Jonestown' massacre.
The Reverend Jim Jones and San
Francisco Mayor Moscone, who was
murdered after the 'Jonestown'

According to one of these theories, "Jonestown" was a continuation of a CIA mind-control program that infiltrated cults, such as The People's Temple, to carry out their experiments. CIA theorists claim that Jim Jones had many questionable associations with the CIA throughout the years he was establishing The People's Temple. The most significant association is Jones's supposed friendship with Dan Mitrione that dated back to their childhood years. Dan Mitrione was the local police chief in the early days of Jones's "ministry" in Indianapolis. Mitrione later entered the International Police Academy, supposedly a CIA front for training in counterinsurgency and torture techniques.

Coincidentally, when Jones left with his wife to live in Brazil, despite his apparent lack of financial resources, Mitrione was already living there. Jones is purported to have made several visits to Belo Horizonte where the CIA's Brazilian headquarters was situated and Mitrione resided. CIA theorists report that Jones's neighbours in Brazil state that Jones had told them that he was employed by the US Office of Naval Intelligence who supplied him with transport, living expenses and a large home in which he "lived like a rich man."

Soon after his return to America, with $10,000, Jones moved the People's Temple to California. Here he began building the People's Temple communal facilities and, without any trained medical personnel or the usual licensing, was able to run a nursing home. During this time Jones allegedly adopted 150 foster children, most of whom were sent to the People's Temple by court order. The Temple had a strong association with the World Vision organisation that many conspiracy theorists believe to be another CIA front, and had as a consultant, a mercenary from the rebel army UNITA, supposedly backed by the CIA.

Other supposed CIA connections with "Jonestown" include the allegations that:

Richard Dwyer's name had appeared in the publication Who's Who In The CIA

US Ambassador John Burke and another embassy official, Richard McCoy, had strong links with the CIA

The Georgetown CIA station was situated in the US Embassy building

Dan Webber, sent to Guyana immediately after the massacre, was with the CIA and

Joseph Blatchford, the officially appointed attorney for the "Jonestown" survivors, was involved in a scandal involving CIA infiltration of the Peace Corps.

The involvement of Larry Layton in the ambush of Ryan and his party also provokes great interest from the CIA theorists because of his family background. Layton's father was Dr. Laurence Laird Layton who had been the chief of the army's Chemical Warfare Division during the 1950's. It had also been Larry Layton's brother-in-law, the UNITA link, who had negotiated with the Guayana government, on behalf of Jones, for the establishment of "Jonestown."

Another point, which CIA theorists use to support their beliefs, is the fact that, despite the growing controversy surrounding the People's Temple, Jones's move to "Jonestown" was given full support from the American Embassy in Guyana.

Leo Ryan's murder is seen by many as being much more sinister than the hysterical behaviour of a madman. Leo Ryan had been a strong critic of the CIA and was the author of the Hughes-Ryan Amendment, which, if passed, would have required that the CIA report to Congress on all of its covert operations before they commenced. Soon after Ryan's death, the Hughes-Ryan Amendment was quashed in Congress. The question conspiracy theorists ask is whether Ryan was killed in order to reach this objective and the massacre at "Jonestown" merely a smoke screen to distract attention away from Ryan's murder?

Witnesses at the airport, where Ryan and four others were murdered, described the gunmen as being "glassy eyed", "mechanically-walking zombies" who were "devoid of emotion." The question CIA theorists would like answered is who were these people? The official report stated that there were approximately 1100 people at "Jonestown" at the time of the massacre but other reports claim that there were closer to 1200. Of this number there were 913 dead bodies found and 167 survivors. Twenty people, if the 1100 figure is correct, are left unaccounted for. If they were the assassins, where are they now? Also unaccounted for, and never referred to in news reports, are the armed guards who were present in "Jonestown" but were free to come and go from the compound. A congressional aide may have been referring to these men in an Associated Press quote "There are 120 white, brainwashed assassins out from Jonestown, awaiting the trigger word to pick up their hit."

Such a possibility seems to be confirmed for the theorists by a number of unusual deaths that have occurred since the "Jonestown" massacre. The first of these occurred in Georgetown at the People's Temple headquarters at the same time as the "Jonestown" massacre. Charles Beikman, an early Jim Jones follower who had become an "adopted son" was found to be responsible. Apparently, Beikman was also a Green Beret, of which there were over 300 in Guyana at the time on a "training exercise."

Nine days after "Jonestown," San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were killed. Both men had received financial support from Jones while he was in San Francisco and were involved in an ongoing investigation into their involvement in the disappearance of People's Temple funds. Dan White, described as being in a "zombie state" at the time of the killings, murdered them. White's lawyers attempted to defend their client by stating that White had been temporarily insane due to the effects of eating too much sugar, a defence which was mockingly known as the "Twinkie defence."

Some time later, Michael Prokes, a former member of the People's Temple, informed a press conference, held in his motel room, that the CIA and FBI were secretly holding an audiotape of the "Jonestown" massacre and that he was an FBI informant. Immediately following his announcement, Prokes went into the bathroom where he supposedly committed suicide.

Jeanne and Alan Mills, People's Temple members who had defected before the move to Guyana, were found bound and killed in their home almost a year after the "Jonestown" massacre. They had written a book about the People's Temple and had expressed their belief that they would eventually be murdered. Official reports state that the Mills probably knew their murderers, as there were no signs of forced entry or struggle. Their son was at home at the time of the murders but somehow escaped death. The case continues to remain unsolved.

The final area of concern in the "Jonestown" massacre regards the official US decision not to conduct autopsies on the victims of the massacre; the reason given was that the cause of death was readily apparent. The results of pathology examinations conducted by Guyanese coroner Leslie Mootoo however, revealed his belief that as many as 700 of the victims were murders, not suicides. Mootoo claims that in a 32-hour period he, and his assistants, examined the bodies of 137 victims. They had all been injected with cyanide in areas of their bodies, which could not have been reached by their own hand, such as between the shoulder blades; many other victims had been shot. Charles Huff, one of the seven Green Berets who were the first American troops on the scene following the massacre, claimed that "We saw many bullet wounds as well as wounds from crossbow bolts." Those who were shot appeared to have been running toward the jungle, away from the compound, at the time they were shot.

The discrepancy in the numbers of dead in the first reports, and the final figure had led many to speculate that approximately five hundred people had escaped the first spate of killings and escaped into the jungle, but were then hunted down and murdered. The descriptions of witnesses to the layout of the bodies, and the fact that there were obvious signs that many of the bodies had been dragged to their final resting place, tends to contradict the 'official' explanation that at the first counting five hundred bodies had been concealed by the other 408 bodies.



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