Serial 1919


Date 2/8/79

To: SAC, San Francisco, FBI
From: Director

Enclosed for San Francisco is a copy of an Associated Press story regarding captioned matter.

San Francisco advise FBIHQ of the facts as set forth in enclosure.

[Page 2]


San Francisco (AP) – Federal investigators have uncovered evidence that a drum of dangerous chemicals was shipped to the Peoples Temple colony in Guyana a few days before a death ritual claimed more than 900 lives, according to a published report.

The San Francisco Examiner, in a copyrighted article published in Tuesday’s editions, quoted unidentified sources as saying the drum of toxic chemicals, possibly the potassium cyanide used in the mass murder-suicides, arrived a few days before the Nov. 18 murders of Rep. Leo Ryan, D-Calif., and four others.

Ryan was on a fact-finding mission to the agricultural colony when he and his party were gunned down. A short time later, the Rev. Jim Jones led more than 900 of his followers to their deaths in a bizarre murder-suicide ritual, exhorting them to drink a deadly punch.

The Examiner said a Temple boat docked at nearby Port Kaituma a few days before Ryan’s arrival with a regular cargo of provisions. Also aboard was a 100-pound drum of chemicals, the newspaper said.

“We checked it in,” the newspaper quoted Harold Cordell, who escaped from Jonestown with the survivors of Ryan’s party, as saying. “It was not on the order list or inventory.”

Cordell, according to the Examiner, said Temple agronomist Russell Moton “looked up the composition and said it was a dangerous chemical… I don’t recall the name of the chemical.”

The newspaper said federal authorities believe the drum contained the cyanide use despite the punch that killed colony members.