Q871 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: Unidentified Individuals Speaking

FBI preliminary tape identification note: None

Date cues on tape: LJuly 4, 1978 (specified)

People named:
Jonestown residents:

Lisa Layton

Bible verses cited:     None


In this short tape, an elderly woman says that she has been offered a ride on a plane to Georgetown – or to Cuba or the Soviet Union, if she wishes – for medical treatment, but she would rather remain in Jonestown among her friends.

She delivers variations of the same message three times, including twice in succession, and giving the date as July 4, 1978 on the last take. She closes with the words, “Lisa Layton.”

The woman is likely not Lisa Layton, who had a distinctive voice with the German accent from her youth still present in her speech. The questions become, then: Did Lisa write the statement for someone else to read? If she did, why wouldn’t she have recorded it herself? If she didn’t write it, why would the tape have been made?

The answer to the third question may be the easiest to consider, although it is still speculative. Given both the message and the language in the tape, it is likely she neither wrote, recorded, nor possibly was aware of the tape’s existence. (This is reinforced by the fact that there is a pause in the first reading, during which paper is rustled near the microphone, suggesting a reading of the statement.) While Lisa was in declining health – and was one of the eight people in Jonestown who died before November 18 – the tape had more value as a rebuttal to the charges being made in the San Francisco press by her daughter, Debby Layton Blakey, who had made a high-profile defection six weeks earlier. The fact that it was recorded three times suggests that it was intended for broadcast over the Temple ham radio, and the Jonestown leadership wanted several takes to choose among for that purpose.

FBI Summary:

Date of transcription: 6/27/79

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 June 9, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B102-C6. This tape was found to contain the following: Statements being read by elderly female saying that JIM JONES has offered to transport her to Georgetown, the Soviet Union or Cuba for medical treatment but she does not want to leave. She wants to die in Jonestown among her friends. This tape was made on July 4, 1978.

Differences with FBI Summary:

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

 Tape originally posted May 2022.