The initial stories out of Guyana following the deaths of November 18, 1978, reported that Temple loyalist Sharon Amos, who was working in the group’s headquarters in Georgetown, took her three children into an upstairs bathroom, slit their throats, and then slit her own. They were the only four to die in Georgetown.
Two other people were in the bathroom as the deaths occurred, 10-year-old Stephanie Brown and 43-year-old Charles Beikman. Brown also sustained knife wounds, and Beikman was arrested and charged with attempted murder of the young girl.
The real story turned out to be more complicated.
It is known that Sharon Amos did kill her young two children, Christa and Martin Amos, as the early reports indicated. However, according to the two surviving witnesses, once the younger children were dead, Sharon and her 21-year-old daughter Liane Harris, faced one another, and each slit the other’s throat. The wounds were mortal, although Liane apparently lived for several minutes.
As for the other two, Stephanie’s wounds turned out to be superficial and non-threatening. The account given by both was that Beikman told the girl he would have to cut her to make it seem he was carrying out his instructions, but that she wouldn’t be in any real danger. Then he did so. The account was confirmed by Stephan Jones, who arrived on the scene shortly afterwards.
There are other factors suggesting this is true as well. Beikman got only five years in prison, a much lower sentence than had he actually been convicted of being involved in the deaths themselves.
Stephan also described Liane as a beautiful young woman who would never have dreamed of killing herself or anyone else, but on November 18, everything was crazy, and Liane’s devotion to her mother, to comply with her mother’s request, overrode everything else.