Serial 1473

[Editor’s note: Several of the subjects whose names are deleted in this serial are known to the editor. Those notations have been indicated by red type.]

FBI Airtel

Date 12/28/78

TO: DIRECTOR, FBI (89-4286)
FROM: SAC, BALTIMORE (89-173) (P)
SUBJECT: RYMUR
00: San Francisco

Re San Francisco tel to Bureau, 12/27/78.

Enclosed for San Francisco is the original and seven copies each of FD-302s of [two names deleted] [Steve Sung and Ron Javers] and for the Bureau one copy each of both FD-302s.

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FD-302

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Date of transcription 11/30/78

[Two lines deleted identifying Steve Sung] advised that he resides at [address and telephone deleted] [Steve Sung] stated that he was among numerous news media people who were assigned to cover a trip to Jonestown, Guyana and to travel with U.S. Congressman Leo J. Ryan (Democrat, California) and several relatives of members of the Peoples Temple. Prior to the Guyana trip, however, [Steve Sung] was among a group of people who attended a presentation concerning the Peoples Temple put on by the Peoples Temple in California. The two attorneys who represented the Peoples Temple were also present at the time of the presentation.

[Steve Sung] advised that he flew from California to New York on Monday, November 13, 1978, and then from New York to Georgetown, Guyana on December 14, 1978. The two attorneys for the Peoples Temple met with Congressman Ryan and the rest of the contingent from the United States on Wednesday evening or Thursday in Georgetown and, on Friday evening, November 17, 1978, they got the “okay” from attorney Lane to proceed to Jonestown. [Steve Sung] stated that they all then flew from Georgetown to Jonestown where they were delayed at the airstrip for one to two hours before receiving permission to proceed to the Jonestown proper. The whole contingent was transported to Jonestown via truck and the trip took between 45 minutes to an hour, placing them in Jonestown at approximately 7:00 PM. The temple people put on a big ceremony and “God Bless America” was sung. Many of the people appeared to be happy, however, that evening, a slip of paper was passed to NBC Correspondent Don Harris by someone who wanted to leave the settlement and return to the United States. None of the visitors were permitted to stay overnight there, so they all left and returned the following day, Saturday, at approximately 10 AM. On Saturday at Jonestown, an older woman grabbed Don Harris and indicated she and her family wanted to leave the compound and return to the United States. Harris brought this woman to Congressman Ryan and she and her relatives stated on voice recorded tape that they wished to leave.

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Congressman Ryan then interviewed the Reverend Jones on tape about alleged tortures, disciplinary measures, etc., used against members of the Peoples Temple at Jonestown. Reverend Jones denied all allegations and additionally stated that the only guns in the compound were used strictly by the hunters to obtain food for the members of the church.

When the whole contingent was getting ready to depart the compound for the airstrip, approximately 15 other church members suddenly wanted to “defect”. The visiting contingent and the “defectors” were driven to the airstrip where there were two airplanes waiting. Shortly after the arrival at the airstrip, [Steve Sung] observed a tractor pulling a flatbed truck with canvas over the top. Three men got off the tractor and flatbed, walked toward the reporters and ask which airplane the Peoples Temple members were leaving on. No one responded to this question and a few minutes later, these individuals pulled weapons from the flatbed and opened fire on the people standing on the airstrip. [Steve Sung] stated that, as he remembers it, the people from the temple who were on or near the tractor when the unprovoked shooting began were one black man named “Stanley” [Gieg] (driver of the tractor), one white male who was approximately 45 years old and appeared to be the leader of this group, and three other Negro males. One woman “defector” was killed as she was about to board one of the airplanes. The engine and tires of one of these airplanes was shot out and, although there were Embassy people in the area, the people doing the shooting seem to convine [concentrate?] their shooting to the contingent from the United States. [Bob Brown] was struck [phrase deleted] with a bullet [Steve Sung’s] cameraman was shot in the leg. The cameraman was moaning when one of the temple people walked up to him and shot him in the head, killing him. [Steve Sung] stated that he remained motionless [several words deleted] feigning death, when he was shot again; an apparent attempt to make sure he was dead. [Steve Sung] stayed, laying face down on the airstrip, for approximately one half hour, and he heard an airplane engine start amongst the noise of people crying. He then ran into the thick bush surrounding

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the airstrip and banded together with others, including a State Department official who had fled. [Steve Sung] stayed overnight [line deleted] and the next morning, Sunday, November 19, 1978, approximately 40 Guyanese soldiers arrived and secured the area so the group could eventually be evacuated.

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FD-302

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Date of transcription 11/30/78

[Identifying information on Ron Javers deleted] was interviewed on November 19, 1978 at the Malcolm Grow Medical Center, Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, while awaiting medical evaluation and treatment. [Identifying information on Ron Javers deleted] had just flown to Andrews Air Force Base from Guyana, South America, having arrived only a short time previous. [3 lines of identifying information on Ron Javers deleted] he has been so employed since January 22, 1978. The first knowledge he had of his assignment to travel to Guyana was on Thursday afternoon, November 9, 1978, when he was assigned to travel there by [line deleted]. He said this came about on the assumption of [Javers] that [Marshall Kilduff] who has written a number of stories about the Peoples Temple, would not be permitted to make the trip. He explained that [half line deleted] had just learned at that time of a trip planned by Congressman Leo J. Ryan to travel with a party to Guyana.

He was to cover Ryan’s visit to Guyana and to see Jonestown if possible. He flew from San Francisco to New York, where he met Congressman Ryan and his party, and they departed New York about 3:30 PM on Monday, November 13, 1978. Congressman Ryan was representing the House International Relations Committee to check on conditions in Jonestown. He recalled that also present on this airplane flight from New York to Guyana were eight other media people in addition to himself, as well as Congressman Ryan and his Administrative Assistant K. Jacqueline Speiers [Speier]. In addition, Jim Schollart [Schollaert] of the House Committee Staff was also present. They flew to Trinidad and subsequently to Georgetown, Guyana arriving there Tuesday night, November 14, 1978, about midnight.

All of the members of the media, except [Ron Javers], were permitted to enter the country, but [Ron Javers] did not have the proper journalist permit. The appropriate formal request was made at the US Embassy and [Ron Javers] was delayed approximately 12 hours at the Immigration Office

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at the Timheri Airport in Georgetown until the matter of his permit could be resolved. Subsequently, his permit was received and he was permitted to enter Guyana for five days.

[Ron Javers] stated that Congressman Ryan had been negotiating for an invitation to Jonestown, but that he was given a list of conditions which would have to be met in order to visit there. These conditions included that Attorney Mark Lane be present, that members of the Black Caucus be present and that the Reverend Jim Jones would choose the members of the press to go there. Congressman Ryan, however, did not agree to these conditions. Subsequently, Congressman Ryan reached an agreement with Attorneys Mark Lane and Charles Garry, who is the attorney for the Peoples Temple, permitting them to travel to Jonestown. [Ron Javers] stated there was a logistics problem involved due to the planes and the landing strip available.

A group of people calling themselves Concerned Relatives, totaling 13, were interested in accompanying Congressman Ryan to Jonestown. This group of people consisted of individuals who had been in the Peoples Temple, were temple dropouts or were people with relatives in Jonestown.

[Ron Javers] understood that the press media paid a part of the cost of the plane trip, the Concerned Relatives paid a portion and Congressman Ryan also paid a portion of the expenses for the plane to fly to Jonestown. The plane was an 18 seater and present on the flight were Attorneys Lane and Garry, four members of the Concerned Relatives group only as the entire group was too large to take and it was decided these four would represent their group, and a number of the media. [three lines deleted] four individuals with NBC, including Don Harris and Bob Brown, as well as Congressman Ryan and his Administrative Assistant, K. Jacqueline Speiers.

[Ron Javers] stated that Congressman Ryan had said that he was not prejudging anything and had an open mind concerning his visit to Jonestown and was representing constituents

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from his district in California in view of the interest of people there in the Peoples Temple and their concern for friends and/or relatives.

Their plane left the Georgetown Airport and arrived at Port Kaituma in the late evening of Friday, November 17, 1978. They then proceeded via truck or a Land Rover into Jonestown, which is about 6 miles away, which 6 miles consisted of deep, red mud.

A sergeant Rudder, a local Guyanese constable, and his deputy met them at Port Kaituma. Rudder said that he had instructions that only Sharon Amos could proceed to Jonestown, however, Amos was back at Georgetown and not a member of the party. [Ron Javers] described Sharon Amos as being a current member and leader of 50 to 60 people living in a house in Georgetown where supplies were received by the Peoples Temple and subsequently forwarded to the Peoples Temple in Jonestown. Attorneys Lane and Garry could not understand Rudder’s orders and some members of the Peoples Temple, about five or six, arrived on a red tractor. They entered into negotiations and subsequently, agreed that Lane and Garry could go on in first to Jonestown and negotiate for the Congressman. They walked to a nearby telephone or transmitter and after an apparent conversation, came back and said that the entire party could travel to Jonestown. Lane, Garry and Congressman Ryan were among the occupants of the first truck to travel into Jonestown, along with other people [Ron Javers] believed to be temple people. The truck then returned for the press and the four people representing the Concerned Relatives group.

Congressman Ryan had been there approximately 20 to 30 minutes when [Ron Javers]’s group arrived there. They went to a central location, which place was an open air meeting place with a corrugated tin roof, a stage and seats. They were welcomed and served iced tea. The people were very hospitable, although [Ron Javers] later stated he had heard that this had been staged for the benefit. They were told that the people there wanted to entertain them and they had dinner and entertainment, which consisted of singers and a rock band. [Ron Javers] said that the NBC personnel filmed this. The entertainment ended about 11:00 PM that night. [Ron Javers] said the room was charged with emotion. Congressman

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Ryan gave a speech explaining that he was an impartial observer there and elaborated along this line, that it appeared that some people were happier there than ever before. There was great cheering, however, [Ron Javers] said he again later heard that the people had been instructed to do this. When the time came to leave, there were no accommodations there, but a cottage was obtained for Congressman Ryan, Attorneys Lane and Garry and possibly Speiers, with the remainder of the people renting the home of a person where they spent the night.

The following day, Saturday, [Ron Javers] stated that things were doubly tense. Congressman Ryan was interviewing people in Jonestown privately, some of whose names had been given to him by members of the Concerned Relatives group. The previous evening, Don Harris of NBC had received a note from a young man with three names on it, which note asked for help in getting these people out of Jonestown.

[Ron Javers] separated from Congressman Ryan as he wanted to see parts of Jonestown for himself. After a conference with Attorneys Lane and Garry, an agreement was reached that the media could roam around the grounds. He was subsequently refused entry into the “Jane Pittman House” on the basis they wanted to protect the privacy of the people inside who were elderly. He said he believed the actual reason was because the women occupants of the house were packed in “like sardines” and that there were 65 people stacked in beds there. He noted there was an allegation of funding of the Peoples Temple through Social Security checks of the elderly, such as the people there. One of the leaders of the Peoples Temple went into the Pittman House and requested permission for them to enter, which was granted. As they went inside, however, many of the women inside left. [Ron Javers] did talk to several women and all of them said they liked it there.

[Ron Javers] continued his tour of the grounds and the people preparing to leave started reporting to the central assembly area. When he returned there, he saw some women with Congressman Ryan who wanted to leave. He noted in particular that the Parks family was present with Congressman Ryan and wanted to leave. Other people then joined Congressman

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Ryan and this group. [Ron Javers] stated the time to leave had arrived as the airplane in which they were to depart was arriving at a certain time. The press got into the first truck which was leaving. He said that some of the media were going to film Congressman Ryan as they were leaving. Congressman Ryan was remaining behind to stay with and give protection to members of the Peoples Temple who had expressed an interest in leaving with Ryan, but who could not get onto the first truck due to it being crowded. Attorneys Lane and Garry were remaining at Jonestown and not traveling to the airport.

[Ron Javers] stated that he had interviewed the Reverend Jim Jones and Jones said he had always permitted people to leave who wanted to, but if people did try to leave, he would say “Father has failed his people”. He tried to talk women out of leaving when they expressed an interest to leave. One of the women involved in this was Edith Parks of the Parks family. [Ron Javers] said at this time, everyone was embracing one another and everything was on friendly terms.

The truck on which [several words deleted] media and other individuals were riding proceeded about 100 yards before it became stuck in the mud. He then heard a loud cheer, saw a commotion and people running. About 5 to 10 minutes later, Attorney Lane came up the path to the truck hustling Congressman Ryan with him. Congressman Ryan’s shirt was pulled up to his waist and there was blood on the left side of the shirt, however, it was later learned it was not the blood of Congressman Ryan.

Congressman Ryan got into the truck and said someone had thrust a knife at him. The truck then traveled to the airport, but the plane on which they were to depart had not yet arrived. Congressman Ryan and the others sat down in a little shed and Congressman Ryan told them what happened to him back at Jonestown. He said a young white male had lunged at him with a knife, that he had fallen back and that Mark Lane, who had been his opponent in this matter, had saved his life, as he had wrestled the knife wielder to the ground. The knife wielder was cut during this attack and it was apparently his blood that was on Congressman Ryan’s shirt.

[Ron Javers] recalled also that before the truck in which

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he was riding pulled away from Jonestown to drive to the airport, a Negro male got onto the truck and clung to the side of it staring at him. A female temple member inside the truck identified this individual as being Joe Wilson. [Ron Javers] related that Wilson’s wife and child had left Jonestown earlier that date trying to make their way to Port Kaituma. Wilson rode all the way out to the airstrip on this truck with them.

[Ron Javers] estimated there were possibly 32 people milling around in the area by the airport waiting for the planes to take them away from there. He said the truck on which he and other members of the press and others had traveled to the airport must have returned and brought back a second group of people. Bob Brown of NBC was filming the activities there. [Ron Javers] said they were receiving many hostile looks and that the members of the press gathered together. The two airplanes had landed during this period of time. One plane was a small, single engine plane with the capacity of about 4 to 5 people.

[1/2 line deleted] the larger airplane, an Otter. He later learned that a Larry Layton, who was one of the last people to get on the first truck including [Ron Javers] and the media as it pulled away, had gotten under the smaller single engine plane. He explained that when Layton got onto their truck that the Temple people who were riding on the truck and leaving Jonestown, crowded together and away from Layton and said not to let him on, that he was a traitor and would hurt them. As a result, while on the truck, [Ron Javers] started interviewing Larry Layton, who was very nervous. [Ron Javers] said the temple people were adamant that Layton should not be permitted to go with them and that they were afraid of him.

At the airport, Congressman Ryan, Dick Dwyer, Deputy Chief of Missions of the U.S. Embassy at Guyana and others were frisking people to make sure they did not have firearms before boarding the airplanes. Larry Layton, whom he described as pale and “hyper” said he had to get on the first plane, referring to the small plane. Ryan was on one side of the small plane and Layton apparently went to the other side and climbed into the plane.

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[Ron Javers] observed what he described as a truck and a tractor with the truck partially concealing the tractor, drive over to the area where they were congregated. This was during the period of time that they were still milling around and frisking people.

Subsequently, approximately three to five males came walking over swiftly from the direction of the truck and tractor and Joe Wilson was one of them. [Ron Javers] was then standing beside the larger airplane preparing to board it. [Ron Javers] then saw several people coming at him armed with rifles. He was then standing by [line deleted] the airplane. Bob Brown, the NBC cameraman, was nearby filming this sequence of events. Firing commenced and [line deleted] fell to the ground and moved behind the airplane for protection as did Bob Brown. He was trying to take cover behind the airplane tire and he heard additional shots. He said the shooting possibly lasted five minutes or less. [Line deleted] looked behind him. He saw Don Harris of NBC trying to get behind the tire of the plane, as was Congressman Ryan. He heard later another individual was also trying to get behind the plane tire for protection. He saw an individual come around the side of the airplane. He saw Bob Brown lying on the ground and believed he was hit, but not dead as his body was moving some. He also saw Don Harris on the ground with his body moving and believed him to still be alive. An unknown individual then came up and placed his rifle by the head of Don Harris and fired, administering what he called the “coup de grace”. Either this same individual or another individual did the same thing to Bob Brown, both of whom were on the ground.

[Ron Javers] was then possibly 10 to 15 yards away and who had been trying to make up his mind as to whether to play dead or run for it, then decided to run. He got up and ran across the airplane field into a tropical rain forest area. He ran into this dense undergrowth as far as he could. He had a camera bag, which he dropped on the runway, and he dropped his Nikon camera in the swampy area as he went into it.

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[Ron Javers] said he knew that he had been shot [two lines deleted]. He saw a pasture, which he proceeded through, and subsequently, he made his way around the perimeter of the airport. He then saw people and recognized among them [several names deleted]. He went over to them. He said this was possibly 4:30 PM.

He observed that the larger twin engine Otter plane was disabled as the tires had been shot out. The small plane managed to take off and he was told that it had one passenger, a female Temple dropout member. He was not certain as to when the small plane took off, but understood it summoned help.

He observed Congressman Ryan’s body as well as the bodies of Harris, Brown, Greg Robinson, San Francisco Examiner photographer, and the body of a woman beside the plane. He said he could not see who shot Congressman Ryan or even himself.

[Ron Javers] stated that he believed that the individual who shot Don Harris was a young black male, possibly a teenager or in his 20s and perhaps a little taller than [2 lines deleted]. He said it all happened so fast that he cannot be positive that the individual who shot him was a black male, however, he believed him to be.

[Ron Javers] subsequently heard from several people there, including one of the dropouts, possibly Dale Parks, that Larry Layton got into the small airplane while Congressman Ryan was standing beside it, at which time the truck and tractor containing the men who did the shooting were proceeding towards them. Layton had, or was handed, a revolver and started shooting. He said he might have been handed the revolver through the window, but he also had a satchel with him which had not been checked, to his knowledge, for weapons due to their inexperience in such things. The revolver was a six cylinder and [Ron Javers] understood that Layton apparently shot five times as there were five empty chambers when the revolver was recovered following the shooting. He said

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that he suggested to Dwyer that since he was a government official that Dwyer should take custody of this revolver and he did. Layton was detained by other Guyanese civilian males. He was also told by he believed Dale Parks that Parks, after Layton started shooting at the people in the small plane, had wrestled Layton for the revolver and they fell out of the plane, that Parks pointed the revolver at Layton and it either misfired or was empty when he tried to shoot Layton.

[Ron Javers] described Layton as a white male, age 25 to 30, 5’6″ to 5’7″, 140 to 150 pounds, with short curly hair and “spacy” looking.

[Ron Javers] stated that he had heard nothing to indicate any type of conspiracy to assassinate Congressman Ryan or any other government official. He noted that he had no knowledge of the Peoples Temple and its activities prior to receiving this assignment as previously stated. Later, while in Jonestown, he heard from dropouts there that Jones was preaching that the media or Congressman Ryan had guns and were coming there to get them. He said he did not then understand what this actually meant. He knew that conditions were tense following their arrival and at the time of their departure, but knew nothing as far as any plans to commit violence on the part of the Reverend Jones or members of his temple.

[Ron Javers] noted that he had made notes concerning his trip to Guyana and Jonestown and he recorded later in his notes following the shooting of Congressman Ryan and the other members of his party, the names of the individuals responsible for the shooting as furnished to him by different dropout members of the temple that he interviewed. All of this information is recorded in his notes and he gave his notebook to [line deleted] who came to the hospital. He said [line deleted] prior to being removed to the Emergency Room for examination and that [Ron Javers] retained his notes in order to continue the story he was dictating as to what transpired at the airport.

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At the approximate conclusion of this interview, [last six lines of paragraph heavily redacted]

Following receipt of this information, the interview was terminated [last three lines of paragraph heavily redacted]

On November 20, 1978, [Ron Javers] was recontacted [words deleted] at the Malcolm Grow Medical Center by SA [name deleted] and SA [name deleted]. He advised at that time he had already told SA [name deleted] the names of the individuals responsible for the shooting. He said these individuals were as follows:

1. Tom Kice
2. Albert Touchette
3. Joe Wilson
4. Larry Layton

He also advised that a Stanley Gieg was the driver of the tractor or truck which brought the individuals to the airport who did the shooting, although Gieg himself was not identified to [Ron Javers] as being one of the individuals doing the shooting.

[Ron Javers] advised that Kice may be a middle-aged white male with a crew cut and a rough, hatchet type face, whom he saw at Jonestown, but he is not certain concerning this as the individuals who gave him the information that Kice was involved in the shooting did not furnish his race to him. He understood that Kice was seen shooting a handgun, possibly a .45 automatic, and was one of those on the truck or tractor.

Concerning Albert Touchette, he did not know this individual’s race, but heard that he had some kind of a rifle and was firing at people.

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Concerning Joe Wilson, [Ron Javers] noted that this individual he had previously discussed with SA [Name deleted] and Wilson is a Negro male, age 21 to 23 with short cornrows and people said he did participate in the shooting, further details unknown.

Concerning Larry Layton, previously described, [Ron Javers] stated that Dale Parks said Layton shot one Parks’ daughters on the plane.

[Ron Javers] said he compiled this information identifying the above individuals as being involved in the shooting from the Dale and Edith Parks family, Jim Bogue and family, except for one daughter, who chose to remain in Guyana and from Harold Cordell, who has been a member of the Peoples Temple for 25 years and was former head of the temple security in California. Cordell went to Guyana about 8 to 12 months previous when the Jones group did, however, he fell into disfavor with Jones and had decided to leave and was attempting to leave and was at the airport at the time of the shooting.

[Ron Javers] said the shooting actually commenced about 4:15 PM on Saturday, November 18, 1978 and that the shooting sounded like pops or small arms fire primarily to him. He did not know where Jackie Speiers was during the shooting. He recalled that when their plane evacuating the wounded departed Guyana that some of the more seriously wounded got off the plane at San Juan. Included among those people was Anthony Katsaris, Concerned Relative member who was shot up, as was his father, Steve Katsaris. Beverly Oliver, a Negro female, age about 47, and a member of the Concerned Relatives group had her ankle taped. Her husband, Howard, age 57, who was in the Concerned Group there, had remained behind at Georgetown while the others went to Jonestown and they were evacuated as he apparently had a stroke and according to medical personnel, needed help immediately.

[Name deleted] traveled via TWA jet from Georgetown. Also, [Name deleted] stayed at Georgetown and was not on the plane with them.

[Ron Javers] was never interviewed by anyone connected with the Guyanese government concerning this shooting at the airport.

Originally posted on July 24th, 2020.

Last modified on July 30th, 2022.
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