Q786 Summary

Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.

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FBI Catalogue           Radio Transmissions

FBI preliminary tape identification note: One Tracs 90/ unmarked

Date cues on tape:     likely spring 1978

People named:

Peoples Temple members:
Parts 1 & 3:
Joe Beam, aka Joseph Helle
Leona Collier
Hue Fortson (speaks)
Jim McElvane

 

Part 2:
Rex, last name unknown (could be code) (speaks)

 

Public figures/National and international names:
Part 2:
Anthony Katsaris
Elaine Katsaris
Jack Katsaris
First wife of Steven Katsaris (speaks)

 

Temple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives:
Steven Katsaris

 

Jonestown residents:
Parts 1 & 3:
Ishi Fortson
Rhonda Fortson

 

Part 2:
Maria Katsaris (speaks)

 

Bible verses cited: None

Summary:

(This tape was transcribed by Kristian Klippenstein and Seriina Covarrubias. The editors gratefully acknowledge their invaluable assistance.)

This tape consists of two parts: a letter which Temple Assistant Pastor Hue Fortson recorded for an unknown audience; and a conversation over the HAM radio between Jonestown resident Maria Katsaris and her mother. Both segments of the tape are plagued with audio problems. The first part has much ambient noise which frequently overwhelms Fortson (who speaks in a low tone for the entirety of the monologue), and the second has the usual challenges presented by the medium of HAM radio transmissions, including static and overlapping voices.

In the Fortson sections of the recording – they comprise the first 17 minutes and last three minutes of the 57-minute tape – Hue offers apologies to his wife Rhonda and his son Ishi, who are in Jonestown, and speaks of the regrets he has about the way he has treated them. It is not known whether this tape was made before or after Hue visited Jonestown for several days in the spring of 1978, a trip he made in part to repair his relationship with Rhonda. He makes no reference in the tape to what he later referred to as “an unhealthy sexual relationship with another woman in the Bay Area,” but it is likely on his mind, as he muses dejectedly how he is perceived within the Temple, how he is perceived by his wife, and even how he perceives himself. He describes himself as weak, and admits that he has been crying, even as he records the tape.

The balance of the tape consists of two conversations over the HAM radio – likely made on the same day – between Maria Katsaris in Jonestown and her mother in California. Her mother is estranged from her husband Steven – she hasn’t heard anything from him in months, and talks to him only through the kids they had – and hasn’t read anything in the press about him or the Concerned Relatives, of which he is a part.

Maria has called to let her mother know that what her father and the Concerned Relatives are saying in the media are all lies. She insists on several occasions, for example, that there is free movement between Jonestown and the outside world, and that no one is being held against their will. But the real reason for the call, Maria says, is to let her mother know about the years of sexual abuse she suffered at her father’s hands up into her mid-teens.

Her mother doesn’t believe it, and the disdain she had just previously expressed for her former husband turns into a defense. She wonders how Maria could have kept this as a secret, and wants details – dates and circumstances – so she can check out her daughter’s claims. (Maria declines to supply them.) She also wants Maria to come home for a few days so they can have a face-to-face discussion, since this is too explosive and personal to talk about on the HAM radio phone patch. (Maria refuses.) She confronts Maria over the times Maria chose to live with her father in her late teens. (Maria says she had no choice.)

Maria is just as insistent as her mother: Maria doesn’t want to leave Guyana, but says her mom can come there. (Her mother suggests meeting on “neutral ground… in another country,” adding, “I would not consider coming down there in that environment to see you.”) She is willing to write her mom a letter, or take a lie detector test, or put her in touch with other people she has told, including in the America Embassy. (Her mother refuses to accept any of those as conclusive.)

Mrs. Katsaris becomes increasingly confrontational. Towards the end of the call, she says, “Maria, I cannot come there because I would not feel that you were a free agent… If you’re free and willing to go anywhere, I’ll meet you in southern California.”

There may be a good reason that Maria’s mother is firm in her conviction that the alleged sexual molestation never happened. Just as there are other tapes in which Jonestown residents accuse their parents – especially those associated with the opposition – of molesting them as children, and just as those accusations sound as though the children are reading from virtually identical scripts, Maria makes several off-mike comments suggesting that she knows the charges are false. “I know, but he told me to sound sincere,” she says off-mike as her mother protests, “I had to sound like my dad molested me.” A few moments later, after making several points to her mom, Maria says – again, off mike – “I skipped all over the place.” And more than once, when she clicks off the transmitter following a passionate statement to her mother, she adds, “Bitch.”

FBI Summary:

Date of transcription: 4/5/79

In connection with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into the assassination of U.S. Congressman LEO J. RYAN at Port Kaituma, Guyana, South America, on November 18, 1978, a tape recording was obtained. This tape recording was located in Jonestown, Guyana, South America, and was turned over to U.S. Officials in Guyana and subsequently transported to the United States.

On March 29, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B62-105. This tape was found to contain the following:

Side 1 contains an unnamed male describing his acute depression.

Side 2 includes radio-phone conversation between daughter and mother. Daughter advised mother that the father is spreading lies that she cannot leave the place. She alleges that father molested her when she was young and “messed up” her life. Mother insists on face-to-face meeting, stating she does not believe daughter is free to come and go. Daughter, whose name may be MARIE, is 24 years old and she sends greetings to ELAINE, ANTHONY, and JACK, who may be sister and brothers.

Also on Side 2 is continuation of side 1 which was apparently was recorded over by conversation above.

This tape was reviewed and nothing was contained thereon which was considered to be of evidentiary nature or beneficial to the investigation of Congressman RYAN.

Differences with FBI Summary:

The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.     

Tape originally posted February 2021.

Originally posted on February 8th, 2021.

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