Serial 2035

[Editor’s note: Much of the material in this serial has been reproduced, along with contextual notes, at the page The Death of Michael Prokes, on the Aftermath page in the Primary Resources section of this site.]

FBI Airtel

Date 3/15/79

TO: DIRECTOR, FBI (89-4286)

Re Sacramento teletype to Bureau dated 3/14/79.

Enclosed for the Bureau are four copies of an LHM. Enclosed for San Francisco are two copies of the same LHM.

Armed and dangerous – suicidal tendencies.

[Page 2]

United States Department of Justice
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Post Office Box 13130
Sacramento, California 95813
March 15, 1979

Assassination of Congressman Leo J. Ryan, November 18, 1979 [1978]

At approximately 7:20 PM, the Modesto, California Police Department officers were dispatched to the Motel Six, 722 Kansas Avenue, room 106, Modesto, where People’s Temple member and survivor of Jonestown, Guyana suicide, Michael Joseph Prokes, white male, born May 31, 1947, 5’9″ tall, 155 pounds, residence 1701 Concord, Modesto, had shot himself in the head with a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver, 2 inch barrel, during the serial number 979561.

Prokes had arranged with various news media on March 12, 1979, a news conference to be held at the above location at 7:00 PM, on March 13, 1979. Prokes completed reading a five page statement of prepared press release when he excused himself and went into the bathroom, where he had apparently secreted the above described weapon and placed a suicide note. The note is attached herewith.

[Page 3 – Text of note also at]

Don’t accept anyone’s analysis or hypothesis that this was the result of despondency over Jonestown. I could live and cope with despondency.

Nor was it an act of a “disturbed” or “programmed” mind – in case anyone tries to pass it off as that.

The fact is that a person can rationally choose to die for reasons that are just, and that’s just what I did.

If my death doesn’t prompt another look at what brought about the end of Jonestown, then life wasn’t worth living anyway.

[Page 4]


Prokes immediately taken to Doctor’s Hospital in Modesto and was later pronounced dead at 10:44 PM.

Interview of news media present at Modesto Police Department substantiated Prokes’ prior arrangement of press conference and reading of five page statement. Prokes was asked by a news man, Edmond Kent Pierce, employed by KCRA TV, Channel 3, Stockton, California, “Was Jimmy Jones responsible for ordering the murders in Guyana?” At that point Prokes excused himself to go to the bathroom and after about one or two minute interval, they heard a shot ring out.

Prokes’ brother, Thomas Prokes, perfectly described the weapon, stating it had belonged to his brother for several years and was obtained from unknown persons of the People’s Temple in San Francisco, California. Prokes’ statement to the press is attached.

[Pages 5 – 10, Michael Prokes’ Statement to the Press, appears here.]

[Page 11]


Photostatic copies of additional papers in the possession of Prokes at the press conference, which were apparently distributed to the various news media present, attached.

[Pages 12-48 comprise these papers. They include: a January 1979 statement by Temple attorney Mark Lane on KGO Radio; the transcript of a radio broadcast of November 25, 1978 by Guyanese journalist Mohammed Hamaludin; and several press releases and public statements from Jonestown’s final months. The text of these documents appears at The Death of Michael Prokes page.

[Page 49]


The attached articles appears in the “Modesto Bee”, Modesto, California newspaper on March 14, 1979.

[Pages 50-66 – the balance of the serial – consist of copies of these newspaper articles.]