Berkeley, Calif. (AP) – Al and Jeannie Mills knew they might be considered traitors for their defection from the People’s Temple. They warned of “hit squad” and changed their names in a vain effort to escape the harassment of cult members.
On Tuesday, their bodies were found in their home here, and other former followers of the man who led a mass suicide in a South American jungle feared more death may spring from the ruins of the once-applauded church.
Police declined Wednesday to speculate why the couple and their teenage daughter were shot.
The Mills’ left the San Francisco-based church four years before 900 people at the Temple’s Jonestown, Guyana, settlement followed the Rev. Jim Jones in suicide in November, 1978. The deaths came after a California Congressman and three news men, investigating reports by the Mills’ and others of mistreatment and brainwashing at the outpost, were slain at a nearby airstrip.
In the last tape recording he made from the camp, Jones blamed Rep. Leo Ryan’s visit in part on Mrs. Mills, and warned: “The people in San Francisco will… not take our deaths in vain, you know.”
“Our entire family still lived under the conscious awareness that every member of the church would feel justified in killing any of us because we are considered to be traitors,” Mrs. Mills said shortly after the death ritual in Guyana.
The body of Mills, 51, shot in the head, was found in his bedroom in the family’s cottage near a rest home. The body of his 40-year-old wife, also shot in the head, was discovered in an adjacent bathroom.
The couple’s 15-year-old daughter, Daphene, was in critical condition and officials said her chances of recovery were slim.
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(by Steven Capps)
Berkeley, Calif. (AP) – A couple who defected from the People’s Temple cult and said they were on Rev. Jim Jones’ “death list” were shot to death last night in their home which once served as a haven for cult defectors, police said today.
The bodies of Al Joseph Mills, 52, and his wife Jeannie, 40, were found late Tuesday. Their 16-year-old daughter, Daphne, was critically wounded in the shooting. A son, Eddie, 17, was unhurt.
Police Capt. Thomas Johnson said Eddie was in the house at the time but could not give any information about the shootings. Johnson did not elaborate.
The body of the Millses were found face down in separate rooms of the house.
Police were alerted to the killings by a neighbor, who heard the Mills dog barking about 9:30 PM. Neighbors said they had not heard shots, and no weapons were found.
The Mills were members of People’s Temple from 1969 to 1975. They founded the Human Freedom Center in Berkeley in 1978 as a refuge for defectors from People’s Temple and other cults.
In the days after Jones and 900 of his followers died in the mass murder-suicide ritual at the cult’s jungle colony in Guyana, members of the Berkeley center expressed fears for their lives.
They said they believed Jones had established “hit squads” to execute defectors and the Millses believe they were on a “death list.” They requested police protection at the time.
One of their daughters, Diana, told police she had received threatening letters and telephone calls, and had seen “eight or nine” armed men in the yard of her Brooklyn home on one occasion.
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