This tape was reviewed by Nicole Bissett. The editors gratefully acknowledge her invaluable assistance.
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Debbie Layton, who would later join Peoples Temple and become a financial secretary in the Jonestown leadership, spent part of her teenage youth in England, where she attended boarding school. There she also met her husband, Phil Blakey, who also became a member of the Temple when he and Debbie went to the United States. The two later divorced, but both remained with the Temple; Phil eventually became one of the “pioneers,” the group of early settlers who constructed the Jonestown community.
Debbie also had other connections to the Temple: her mother Lisa joined and traveled to Jonestown, where she was one of eight people who died of natural causes before the mass deaths of November 1978; her brother Larry spent 18 years in prison for his role in the shootings at the Port Kaituma airstrip; her former sisters-in-law Carolyn Layton and Annie Moore were part of the Jonestown leadership, and died on November 18, 1978. Debbie herself defected from the Temple in May 1978, and twenty years later, wrote Seductive Poison, one of the first memoirs to emerge from the tragedy. Her former husband survived by being on a Temple boat in the Caribbean during Leo Ryan’s visit to Guyana.
This tape consists of an undated audio letter Debbie sent to her family in California during her time in England. She addresses it to numerous people in her family, including her other two siblings, Tom and Annalisa, and Annalisa’s husband Ray.
Because this tape is at best tangential to the history of Peoples Temple, it was not transcribed.