The Tapes of Paula Adams

Paula Adams was one of the first members of Peoples Temple in Guyana – according to Temple and passport records, she arrived in Georgetown in April 1974 – and didn’t return to the United States until December 1978, with the rest of the returning survivors of the Jonestown tragedy. As the principal liaison between the Temple and Guyana officials, she spent most of her time in the Temple’s Georgetown headquarters in Lamaha Gardens. Virtually every memo, set of meeting minutes or descriptions of contacts with local governmental agencies includes her name, as either a recipient or the writer.

Paula Adams played another role for the Temple. Whether by assignment or by her own choice – accounts differ – she became sexually, and later romantically, involved with Guyana’s Ambassador to the United States, Laurence “Bonny” Mann.

It was a tempestuous relationship. Mann was married, and did not leave his wife to permanently join his mistress for a number of years. The ambiguity, uncertainty and periodic volatility of the affair haunted Paula to the point of considering suicide.

As part of her responsibilities – again, whether assigned or voluntary, is not known – Paula recorded many of her phone conversations and meetings with Bonny Mann (“BM”), then later transcribed or took notes of their contents, and wrote reports of what she’d learned. While the plurality of the tapes focus on her personal relationship with the ambassador – and some are taped conversations of him speaking about others in the government – the other people named on the tapes represent a cross-section of Guyana officialdom and Temple leadership.

Paula Adams died in October 1983 – almost five years after the deaths in Guyana – when Ambassador Mann shot her and their child before turning the gun on himself in their Washington-DC area home.

The Tapes of Paula Adams, RYMUR 89-4286, BB-1, dd-ii
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Last modified on March 21st, 2017.
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