[Editor’s note: This is an unnumbered serial which followed Serial 2303 in the RYMUR release.]
San Francisco (UPI) – A top aide to People’s Temple leader Jim Jones slipped into the United States nearly a week ago, undetected by federal authorities.
Michael Prokes, 32, one of the few survivors of the Jonestown mass suicide-murders, contacted the FBI yesterday and was immediately served with a subpoena to appear Jan. 17 before a federal grand jury in San Francisco investigating the religious cult.
The FBI was unaware Prokes had returned to the United States from Guyana.
“There was no attempt to evade the FBI or the government in any way,” said Prokes’ attorney Jerrold Ladar. “The system did not function properly in connection with him.”
Prokes was arrested by Guyanese authorities along with Temple members Tim and Michael Carter several days after the jungle airstrip slaying of Rep. Leo Ryan and four others that set off the mass murder-suicides of more than 900 persons.
At the time of their arrest, Prokes and the Carters were carrying more than $500,000 as well as two pistols. They told police they had been given instructions to deliver the money to the Soviet Embassy in Georgetown and inform the Russians how to obtain $7 million from bank accounts in Panama.
Prokes and the Carters were jailed for four days and released Nov. 24 but ordered to stay in Guyana pending further investigation. They and Temple survivor Odell Rhodes were given permission to leave Guyana Dec. 23.
UPI 12-29 11:42
Criminal Investigative Division
Attached new service story indicates that Michael Prokes, one of the survivors of the Jonestown incident, was successful in returning to the United States from Guyana unknown to United States authorities.
Prokes did, in fact, reenter the United States unknown to the FBI. The United States Embassy at Georgetown, Guyana, was officially closed from Friday evening, 12/22/78 through Tuesday, 12/26/78. Embassy officials have previously placed stops against the names of all survivors including Prokes with the Pan-American Airlines Reservation Office in Georgetown. Prokes, however, did not make a reservation with Pan-American, however, instead elected to go directly to the airport on Sunday, 12/24/78, purchased a ticket with cash, and boarded Pan-American Flight 228 to New York City. State Department had previously elected to return the passports of all survivors rendering the opinion that these passports could not rightfully be withheld. The return of Prokes’ passport allowed him merely to purchase an airline ticket and fly to the United States unnoticed.
By way of further explanation the State Department advised that in their opinion Pan-American Airlines “obviously slipped up in enforcing its own dictum that survivors be accompanied by sky marshals.”
As result of above Christmas holiday official closings and air traffic congestion, the FBI was not notified of Prokes’ departure from Guyana to the United States.
State Department has advised that they additionally placed stops directly at the airport with Pan American Airlines as well as the Reservation Office to ensure that a similar occurrence is unlikely in the future.
Prokes contacted the San Francisco Division on 12/26/78 and stated that he would be available for interview on 12/27/78 after talking to a lawyer. On 12/27/78 based on advice of counsel, Prokes declined to be interviewed and was served with a subpoena to appear before the Federal Grand Jury, San Francisco on 1/17/79.