Serial 1778

FBI Airtel

Date 1/24/79

TO: DIRECTOR, FBI (89-4286)
FROM: SAC, ALBANY (89-70) (P)
SUBJECT: RYMUR

Re Bureau teletypes to all offices dated 11/22/78 and 12/1/78.

Enclosed for the Bureau is one copy, and for San Francisco are the original and two copies of an FD-302 of Cornelius Groot, father of Peoples Temple member, Pauline Groot (deceased). Also enclosed for the Bureau is one copy each of three press releases and for San Francisco are two copies each of three press releases and photographs of Peoples Temple members Agnes Jones, Harriet Randolph and Ray Jones, and his son, Michael Ray Jones.

Cornelius Groot and his wife, Elizabeth, are unable to provide any firsthand knowledge of the People’s Temple or their leaders; however, their observations and information provided about their daughter may be helpful in the ongoing investigation.

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[Typing on outside of manila envelope]

TO: DIRECTOR, FBI (89-4286)
FROM: SAC, ALBANY (89-70) (P)
SUBJECT: RYMUR

Enclosed for the Bureau is one copy of an FD-302 interview with Cornelius Groot and three press releases.

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FD-302

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Date of transcription January 17, 1979

On 1/8/79, Cornelius Groot and Elizabeth Groot, parents of Pauline Groot (deceased) were contacted at their home, [address deleted] by Special Agent [name deleted]. Special Agent [name deleted] identified himself as a Special Agent with the FBI and explained the nature of the interview.

Mr. Groot explained that his daughter, Pauline, had been a member of the People’s Temple and had traveled to Guyana to assume a teaching position at Jonestown in December, 1977. He further states that it has been confirmed that his daughter was among the dead at the Jonestown settlement.

Groot said that his daughter graduated with a Degree in Chemical Engineering from the State University of New York in Buffalo, in 1971. He states that Pauline became enamored with all of the fads of the day and took up causes at a drop of the hat.

“Pauline desired to strike out on her own,” and as result she left home in August or October of 1971, and went to Philadelphia where she took the job with the Aquarian Research Foundation, 552 Morton Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, telephone number VI 91259. During this period, she also became heavily involved in an ESP oriented program known as the “Alpha State.”

Not long after her arrival in Philadelphia, she apparently had occasion to see Jim Jones speak at a rally in the area while he was touring the country. She immediately became enthralled with Jones’ charisma and healing powers, and she joined the People’s Temple and traveled on with him to California.

When Pauline originally arrived in California, she was lodged with Agnes Jones (supposedly adopted daughter of Reverend Jim Jones) in Redwood Valley, California. Groot states

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that she later moved in with another People’s Temple member, Ellen Kearns [Kerns], also of Redwood Valley. While in the Yucca [Ukiah] area, Groot states his daughter worked at various temporary jobs such as companion to elderly people and tutor, however, he [she] was unable to find a permanent job.

Groot said he and his wife first visited their daughter in Yucca in 1972. Groot said they noticed during the first few days of their visit that they never saw their daughter alone. He states that she was always accompanied by other People’s Temple members. Groot noted that many of these people work for the Mendocino County Juvenile Department. Groot states that he did not interpret this constant companionship as an attempt by the People’s Temple to control his daughter. He emphasized that the People’s Temple appeared to him to be a very gregarious group, and in addition to this, he states the congregation was very protective of their women.

On the same topic of constant companionship, Groot states that in 1973, Pauline apparently became homesick and somewhat unhappy with her life in California. She had expressed an interest to return to Niskayuna for a visit. Groot telegraphed money to her, and she purchased a round-trip ticket. When she came east, the People’s Temple sent along another member, Harriet Randolph, as a traveling companion. Groot states the girls stayed for approximately one week and then returned to California. He states that his daughter returned of her own free will and he does not believe she was coerced in any way.

Groot states that during the period when his daughter was having difficulty finding employment, he would send her approximately $200.00 per month for living expenses. He states that when the canceled checks came back to him, they had been endorsed by the People’s Temple. He said he does not believe his daughter was turning the money over to the church, and the reason for their endorsement was that it was easier for her to cash an out-of-state check through them.

Groot continued with the chronology of his daughter’s years with the People’s Temple stating that in 1974, she moved to Santa Rosa, California, where she lived in a duplex with other People’s Temple members. During her stay in Santa Rosa, she tutored college students in science and math.

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In 1975, she moved on to San Francisco in an attempt to find a job utilizing her background. Again, she had no success in finding a suitable job, and after serving as a physical therapist for a short period of time, she was again out of work. It was at this time that the People’s Temple offered her a teaching position in Guyana which she readily accepted.

In December, 1977, Pauline Groot relocated to the People’s Temple Agricultural Mission in Jonestown, Guyana. Groot said that his daughter’s final year in Guyana apparently was a very happy and productive one for her. He states that she began to write more frequently, and these letters expressed the satisfaction and joy she found in her new position. Groot said that these letters never discussed any problems of the church. She never discussed her fellow churchman, Reverend Jim Jones, or church policies or philosophies.

Groot stated that he and his wife had no idea that there was anything unusual with the church which could lead to such a tragedy. He said that the People’s Temple members he had met were extremely friendly and helpful people. He said that the only time he noticed a defensive air about the church was when they visited their daughter in San Francisco. He said he and his wife went to the Temple in San Francisco to locate their daughter. He went on to say that as they entered the front door of the Temple, they were met entertained by two, so-called ushers. Groot said that they were not invited into the church while the congregation members attempted to locate their daughter, and the People’s Temple members appeared to be quite suspicious. Groot thought that this type of security for the church was quite unusual, however, he added, the church was located in a changing neighborhood and perhaps they had had trouble in the past.

Groot could not relate any other facts about his daughter or the People’s Temple Church which would be instrumental in learning about the organization.

He and his wife recalled the following names of People’s Temple members which may be helpful for future investigation:

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San Francisco

Ann E. Spain
Larry Shact [Schacht] (deceased)
Vanetta [Vernetta] Christian
Debbie Evans

Santa Rosa

Richard Tsaup [Tropp]

Redwood Valley

Raymond Jones
Agnes Jones (believed to be deceased)
Harriet Randolph
Ellen Kearns [Kerns]
Emily Leonard

[Balance of serial, pages 7-13, consist of newspaper articles from local New York newspapers]

Originally posted on August 3rd, 2020.

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