[Editor’s note: This FD-302 interview with Brenda Parks appears two different places, as part 1 of Serial 1562 and as part 17 of Serial 1681, the FBI’s 387-page report of January 12, 1979. While each version of the interview had unique deletions – designated by blue type – in neither interview was the subject identified. The deleted information which is known to the editor is indicated by red type.]
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Date of transcription 12/28/78
[Brenda Parks] was interviewed at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFKIA) after her departure from Pan-American flight 228 arriving from Georgetown, Guyana. [Parks] was advised of the identity of Special Agent (SA) [name deleted], Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and SA [name deleted], United States Secret Service.
[Parks] advised [Released at Serial 1562-1: in 1966] her family moved [Released at Serial 1681-17: from River [Redwood] Valley] to Ukiah, California, at which time she remembered attending meetings of the People’s Temple Church. She advised she went to these meetings with her parents, although she didn’t like attending. She stated the People’s Temple (PT) was good to the family when her father was sick by helping pay his medical bills. Her mother and father believed and trusted Reverend (Rev.) Jones, but she found the meetings boring.
In April, 1977, [Parks] advised her family had an opportunity had an opportunity to leave California go to Jonestown, Guyana. While in California, they saw movies of Jonestown and although it look like a beautiful place to live, she still didn’t want to go. [Parks] advised in Jonestown, everyone was supposed to be treated equal and be able to get good jobs. Between viewing the movies and hearing how good it was, [Parks] advised [Released at Serial 1681-17: her father] decided they would all go. She advised on April 4, 1977 , they left California for New York (NY), where they boarded a flight for Georgetown, Guyana.
[Parks] stated upon arrival in Georgetown, they stayed at the PT Headquarters for approximately eight days; however, after that, they were transported to Jonestown on a boat called the “Cudjoe”. She advised the ship was used to transport people and supplies from Jonestown to Georgetown. She advised there was another boat owned by the PT name the “Albatross”, which also transported supplies.
[Parks] stated from the first day in Jonestown, she disliked the place and it was nothing like the films she had seen in California. She stated the living conditions were terrible. You had to share a very small cottage with 12 or 14 other people, and you have no privacy. She advised the first day there, Joyce Touchette advised her she was assigned to [Released at Serial 1681-17: working in the fields.] It was so hot and they made you stay in the sun all day with only a break for lunch and 10 minutes off in the afternoon. She stated her first week there, Rev. Jim asked her how she liked Jonestown. She replied it was nice, but very hot. He smiled and told her to enjoy herself. That night at the meeting, Rev. Jim called her to the front of the group and yelled at her for not liking Jonestown. She stated that the whole group, including her family, all yelled at her for telling the Reverend that it was too hot in Jonestown. She stated this was the only time she was ever called in front of the group.
She advised that while she was working [Released at Serial 1681-17: outside in the fields] [balance of three-line paragraph heavily redacted].
[v] stated a routine day in Jonestown began at 6 AM with breakfast and work began at 7 AM till 12:30 PM, when they would eat lunch. She stated lunch consisted of rice and gravy. After lunch, she would work till dinner time at 6 PM, when they would eat more rice. At 7:30 PM, everyone was required to attend the meeting at the Pavilion, where Rev. Jim would speak. These meetings generally lasted to midnight with the day’s activities being discussed.
[Parks] advised everyone was not treated equally as they have been told before leaving California. She stated that the people on Jones’ staff and the people on the security patrol have better treatment than the other people in the group. She stated that these people only had to work eight hours a day, while we worked 12, and they didn’t have to wait on lines to eat, while we did. [Parks] stated the following individuals handled the administrative matters of Jonestown and were close to Rev. Jones and on his commission:
Terry [Terri] Buford
Of the above individuals, she further advised that Lee Ingram was the coach of the basketball team and Paula Adams did public relations work for the PT in Georgetown. She stated she believed Paula was very close with the Georgetown officials.
[Parks] advised the following people were members of the Jonestown Security Patrol:
Steve [Stephan] Jones
Johnny Cobb Jones
Bob Kize [Kice]
Of the above, she stated Steve and Tim Jones, along with Johnny Cobb Jones and Calvin Douglas, were the elite members of the group as they were the closest members to the Reverend and were usually with him wherever he went. She advised they also carried weapons at the White Night meetings, but she never saw the practice with them. She stated these weapons were either rifles or shotguns; however, she didn’t know how the weapons got to Jonestown. She explained that a White Night was when an announcement was shouted over the PA system that everyone should immediately get to the Pavilion. You had to stop what you are doing and get there as fast as possible. At these meetings, the Reverend
would talk to us sometimes lasting all night. He would warn us that the United States (US) Government might try to come to Jonestown and arrest some of us. He told us if anyone tried to take someone out of Jonestown, they would have to deal with all of us. He would also ask us if we were afraid to die and how we would like to die and that we should always be prepared to die. She stated when asked if she was afraid to die, she would say no because she was afraid to go against the Reverend again. If you said yes, he would call you up to the front of the group and ask you why. She stated at one of these meetings, the group practice a suicide drill, although she was not there for this. At these White Nights, the security force walked around with weapons. She stated these weapons were kept in Cottage 14, where Johnny Cobb, Tim Jones and Calvin Douglas resided. Besides the shotguns, [Parks] advised they also used bows and arrows for weapons.
She advised that although they had weapons in Jonestown, she was not aware of any threats made by Rev. Jones to murder any officials of another government. The only people she thought Rev. Jones would have killed her people who defected from the PT. Rev. Jones felt that you should remain loyal to him and the PT, and he didn’t want any defectors.
[Parks] advised that the only visitors to Jonestown besides Congressman Ryan that she saw were two Soviet males. She stated this was about three months ago. The Soviet spoke to the group and advised us they were proud of the work we were doing and were proud to be friends of the PT. The reason she remembers the Soviets is because after they came to visit, Rev. Jones wanted everyone to learn to speak Russian. Rev. Jones told us if we ever left Jonestown, we would relocate in Russia and that is why we should be familiar with the language. Don Jackson was the individual that taught us Russian.
[Parks] continued to state that Jonestown was a terrible place to live and she wanted to leave, but there was no way to get out. If you tried to escape and got caught, you were placed in the Extended Care Unit (ECU). This unit was headed by Doctor Larry Schacht. In this unit, they would administer drugs to you continually and you would be in a daze for some period of time. The fear of the ECU would keep people from trying to escape.
[Parks] advised she knew of no plan to assassinate Congressman Ryan by Rev. Jones. She stated that when Rev. Jones learned Ryan was coming to Jonestown, he advised all of us to be happy and friendly, but not to speak with Ryan. Rev. Jones didn’t even want Ryan to come to Jonestown; however, after speaking with Mark Ln., Rev. Jones consented to let him visit. On the Friday night that Ryan was coming, Rev. Jones gave us a half day of work and it gave us all day Saturday off, which was very unusual. [Released at Serial 1681-17: My family] by this time, who were not pleased with life in Jonestown, thought Saturday would be a good time to plan an escape as security also had the day off.
On Friday evening, when Ryan arrived, the PT committee put on a mini production show for him. After the show, we went to bed so that we couldn’t have any conversation with Ryan. Ryan stayed at Jonestown that night, but [Parks] believed his staff slept someplace else; however, Saturday morning, they were all back in Jonestown. As we were considering a possible escape from Jonestown, we did not know that [Released at Serial 1562-1: my [grandmother] [Released at Serial 1681-17: (Edith Parks)] had approached one of the men in Ryan’s party and told him that we all wanted to leave with them. This man then took [my grandmother] to see Ryan and Jackie Spier [Speier] and relate her story to them. Ryan advised her to gather her family and meet him at the Pavilion. While Edith found some members of the family, [Parks] advised Jackie [Released at Serial 1681-17: found her and] [several words deleted] and advised us to immediately go to the Pavilion. Upon arriving at the Pavilion, we met Congressman Ryan and Rev. Jones. Ryan
advised Rev. Jones that we expressed interest in leaving and that he was going to take us. Rev. Jones said that would be fine, but before we left, he would like to speak with us. Rev. Jones told us he would like us to stay, but that we could go home next week. He was afraid if we left with Ryan, it would make him and the PT look bad and he didn’t want that. [Parks] stated that [name deleted] advised Rev. Jones that they wanted to leave today and now. Rev. Jones agreed with this and told us we were free to leave. He hugged us and advised we could come back anytime we wanted. [Parks] advised that now that it was time we were leaving, we all went back to our cottages to get our belongings and then returned to the Pavilion. At the Pavilion, besides [the Parks family] [Released at Serial 1681-17: were the Bogues], Monica Bagby, Vern Gsley [Gosney], [Released at Serial 1681-17: Harold Cordell] and Larry Layton. They were also leaving with us. As we were getting on the truck and saying goodbye, suddenly Don Sly approached Ryan and tried to stab him; however, this effort was stopped by Mark Lane and Charles Gary [Garry], who jumped on Sly. Ryan then stated farewell to Rev. Jones, advised he enjoyed his trip to Jonestown, and was pleased to have met him. Ryan got on the truck and we began our trip to Port Kaituma. As we were driving along, we heard cheering and clapping of hands coming from the Pavilion. As we arrived at the airstrip, the plane that was taking us to Georgetown had not as yet arrived. We all got off the truck and Ed Crenshaw drove away with the truck. Approximately 15 minutes went by before the plane landed; however, it was not large enough for all of us, so we had to wait for second plane, which came in another 15 minutes. As the second plane was landing, [Parks] stated she noticed a tractor and a truck off a distance approaching the landing field. We were now starting to get on the plane. Larry Layton, who was on the ride from Jonestown to Port Kaituma, kept saying how he was glad to get away from the Reverend and Jonestown they didn’t find any however, we all knew he was a close friend a Rev. Jones and couldn’t understand why he was saying this. At the airstrip, we all kept telling Ryan that Layton
should not be trusted because he is loyal to Rev. Jones. When Layton kept insisting that he get on the plane first, Congressman Ryan and aide both searched him for weapons; however, they didn’t find any. By now, [Parks] advised the truck and tractor were fairly close to the plane and she could see that Stanley Gieg was driving the tractor and Ed Crenshaw the truck, and each of them had passengers with them. Some of the individuals who were on one of the vehicles were:
Tom Kize [Kice]
Bob Kize [Kice]
Ronny [Ronnie] James
Ronny [Ronnie] Dennis
Wes Bridenback [Breidenbach]
She advised that Joe Wilson walked over to Larry Layton to shake hands with him, and it appeared that he handed something to Layton. At this point, Wilson walked away and Layton got on the smaller plane with my brother Dale, sister Tracy, Monica and Vern. [Parks] advised she then got on the larger plane with [numerous names deleted, except for [Released at Serial 1681-17:] Edith Parks]. She stated Ryan and his party were still on the ground outside the plane when she heard shots that came from the smaller plane. Layton had shot Monica and Vern and then tried to shoot Dale, but the weapon didn’t go off and Layton ran off the plane. As I was looking out the window, [Parks] advised the tractor and truck were right up close to the plane and suddenly shots were going off. First the shots were outside the plane; however, the vehicles then drove around the plane, shooting into it. After driving around the plane, the vehicles began to drive away. Harold Cornell yelled we should get off the plane and hide in the jungle, because he thought they were coming back again.
[Parks] stated she saw [her mother] [Released at Serial 1681-17: lying dead on the floor of the plane] before she exited it. [Released at Serial 1681-17: She had been shot in the head. [Parks] advised that herself and [2 names deleted], walked in the jungle along the Port Kaituma River for three days before finding men in a canoe on the river. They asked us if we were [Brenda Parks] and [name deleted, likely Tracy Parks] , and we said yes. They told us that everyone in Jonestown was dead and that [Dale] had given them our descriptions. [Parks] advised they went across the river in the canoe where the Guyana Defense Force (GDF) was waiting for them. The soldiers asked me who I was and I told them. They advised us that [several words deleted] were a short distance away in a house, while the other survivors from the assassination at the airport were in Georgetown. We stayed where we were for a night before going to Georgetown. In Georgetown, Ordell Rhoades [Odell Rhodes], who escaped the Jonestown suicide, told us that when the tractor and truck returned from the airport, they reported to Rev. Jones that everyone was dead. Rev. Jones appeared happy according to Ordell. Ordell advised on Saturday, when we were leaving Jonestown and heard the people shouting and clapping, it was because Rev. Jones explained to the group that Ryan and his friends weren’t going anywhere.
Ordell explained that Rev. Jones stated that because of the shootings at the airport, the GDF would be coming to Jonestown, so he announced the mass suicide. First, the little babies were given the poison down their throat. Then some of the people took it voluntarily. Other people are forced to take it or be killed by the guards. Ordell advised us while this was going on, he was hiding under a building and when it got dark, he escaped into the jungle.
[Parks] advised that while the shooting was taking place at the airport, there were Guyanese soldiers at the end of the airstrip, but they never attempted to stop the shooting or even help the survivors after the assassins left.
[Parks] advised she feels members of the PT Church in San Francisco or members of the Jonestown basketball team would be the people that might try to harm the survivors of Jonestown. She also advised she heard that Steven [Stephan] Jones had given Eugene Smith instructions to kill all the survivors, although she didn’t know if Smith would carry these instructions out.
[Parks] advised while in Georgetown, she stayed at the Park Hotel. She advised they had to stay in Georgetown in order to testify at a hearing as to the facts surrounding what happened at the airport. When the time came, she advised it wasn’t necessary for her to appear in court. She stated that [Released at Serial 1681-17: her father, brother] and Monica Bagby all testified at the hearing.
[Parks] stated before leaving Georgetown, they were contacted by contacted by [name deleted] of the United States Government, who had everyone fill out forms that we would repay the United States Government any money that they had spent on us.
[Parks] again stated she was glad to be out of Jonestown, and that she believed [names deleted] would be going to a [Released at Serial 1562-1: a relative’s home in Springfield, Ohio. The relatives are [names deleted].
[Parks] furnished the following information about the below listed individuals she knew in Jonestown:
|Name||Position in Jonestown||Dead or Alive|
|Tim Jones, w/m||Security||Alive|
|Jimmy Jones, Jr., b/m||Security||Alive|
|Eddy [Eddie Crenshaw], b/m||Truck and Tractor Driver||Dead|
|Name||Position in Jonestown||Dead or Alive|
|Johnny Cobb, b/m||Head of Security||Alive|
|Johnny Jones, b/m||Aid [Aide] to Rev. Jones||Alive|
|Mark Cordell, w/m||Worked in kitchen, basketball team||Alive|
|Jim MacElvane [McElvane], b/m||Unknown||Dead|
|Billy Oliver, b/m||Security||Dead|
|Steve Jones, w/m||Anything he wanted, basketball team||Alive|
|Lee Ingram, b/m||Planning Commission, Coach of basketball team||Alive|
|Chris O’Neal, w/m||Brick factory||Alive|
|Calvin Douglas, b/m||Security||Alive|
|Bonnie Simon, w/f||Security||Dead|
|Paul McCann, w/m||Boat crew|
|Pauline Groot, w/f||Dead|
|Tom Grubbs, w/m||Schoolteacher||Dead|
|Marie Rankin, b/f||Supervisor of Public Service Crew||Dead|
|Terri Buford, w/f||In United States||Alive|
|Name||Position in Jonestown||Dead or Alive|
|Jean Brown, w/f||Public Relations in United States||Alive|
|Rennie Kice, b/f||Nurse||Dead|
|Lora [Laura] Johnston, w/f||Public Service Crew||Alive|
|Mike Prokes, w/m||Public Relations||Alive|
|Tim Carter, w/m||Public Relations||Alive|
|Sandra Bradshaw, w/f||In United States||Alive|
|Dale Parks, w/m||Respiratory Therapist||Alive|
|Richard Janaro, w/m||Worked on boat|
|Maria Katsaris, w/f||Public Relations, close to Rev. Jones||Dead|
|Paula Adams, w/f||Public Relations||Alive|
|Tish Leroy, w/f||Strong Jones Supporter||Dead|
|Chuck Beikman, w/m||Salesman on the river||Alive|
|Joyce Touchette, w/f||Kitchen||Dead|
|Charlie Touchette, w/m||Kitchen|
|Michelle Touchette, w/f||Laundry Room||Dead|
|Mike Touchette, w/m||Truck driver||Alive|
|Stanley Clayton, b/m||Cook||Alive|
|Name||Position in Jonestown||Dead or Alive|
|Mary Lee Bogue, w/f||Nurse’s Office||Dead|
|Tom Bogue, w/m||Field Worker||Alive|
|Tina Bogue, w/f||Field Worker||Alive|
|Odell Rhodes, b/m||Teacher, took care of children||Alive|
|Jim Cobb, b/m||In United States||Alive|
The following information was obtained through interview and observation:
[Balance of page 12 and entirety of page 13, giving description, occupation and relatives of Brenda Parks highly redacted.]