Templo del Pueblo Jonestown 1980 [1978] Interview With Mike and Tim Carter and Michael Prokes

Transcriber’s note: This is an exclusive Jonestown aftermath interview from the Argentine DiFilm archives in Spanish. Please note that the interview is incorrectly labeled as “1980” instead of 1978.

The interview may be viewed on YouTube here: (8:41) Tim Carter – Michael Prokes – Mike Carter – Templo del Pueblo Jonestown 1980

Alternatively, it may be viewed on Dailymotion here: Michael Prokes – Mike Carter – Temple of the Jonestown People 1980 – Vídeo Dailymotion

Brothers Mike and Tim Carter, along with Mike Prokes, managed to escape the Jonestown mass suicides after being assigned the task of delivering suitcases filled with money to the Soviet Embassy in Georgetown. The interview opens with the Carter brothers and Mike Prokes standing in the open veranda of the Park Hotel in Georgetown, Guyana. The reporter asks questions in Spanish and is assisted by a translator. All answers are given in English. This transcript features the untranslated Spanish questions as provided by DiFilm; however, a rough translation is explained by the translator.

Reporter: (In Spanish) Tim Carter, Mike Prokes y Mike Carter, estos tres jóvenes están acusados de haber sido hombres de confianza, allegados directos a Jim Jones. ¿Cuáles son sus nombres?

Translator: He wants to know your names.

Tim Carter: Tim Carter.

Michael Prokes: Mike Prokes.

Mike Carter: Mike Carter.

Reporter: ¿Cuánto tiempo llevaron en la secta Templo del Pueblo?

Tim C: Six Years.

Prokes: Same.

Mike C: Five years.

Reporter: ¿Porque también?

Translator: He wants to know why you belong to the group—how come you belong to the group.

Tim C: When I first met Jim Jones I thought he was a humanitarian and that the work that the group was doing was good. It was helping people who were poor and oppressed.

Reporter: (Unintelligible)

Prokes: Basically the same reason. I came as a news reporter for a CBS television affiliate station in California to do a story on Jim Jones and I—I liked what I saw being done to help people so I quit my job and joined.

Reporter: (To Mike Carter) ¿Y tú?

Mike C: Um—well my brother had already been in the Temple. I was just in high school at the time and—and I had come down for a visit and I saw—uh what seemed to be a very pleasant lifestyle. Something where I could put my energies to good work and help people. Uh and so that’s why I joined.

(Camera zooms in on Mike Prokes)

Reporter: ¿Cómo explican el vuelco que dio la personalidad de Jones, la terminación que tuvo esta historia?

Translator: Okay. He wants to know how do you explain that the things turned the way they did. How come a good thing became such a bad thing?

(Camera zooms in on Tim Carter)

Tim C: I don’t know. That’s a good question. It’s uh—a nightmare. Jim Jones was uh, a man who cut himself off from the world. Who became more and more paranoid and uh—totally, I—I just I don’t know. I don’t understand it. All that I know is that everything disintegrated in one day.

Footage plays of Jim Jones preaching to Temple members

Reporter: ¿Ellos estaban muy cerca, eran amigos de Jones?

Translator: He wants to know if you were close to Jim Jones.

Tim C: We were considered to be close to Jim Jones. We weren’t—as it turns out—I don’t think anybody was really close to Jim Jones because nobody ever got that close to him.

Translator: Okay.

Reporter: ¿Una versión dice que ellos partieron de la secta con una valija que contenía dólares y una carta para un embajador soviético?

Translator: Okay. So according to what he’s saying, it is said that you ran away with a bag filled of money and according to what he says again, you were bound for the Soviet Union. What is there in that?

Audible laugh in background.

Tim C: Well, it’s a little bit of a mis—miscommunication. (Camera zooms in on Tim) It’s true that we had a suitcase of money that—we were asked to—when we were approached by a woman whose financial secretary[1] of the uh church—it was before this mass suicide had started.

Translator: Yeah.

Tim C: And while we were in the process of delivering an empty suitcase to the house where Jim Jones lived, I had gone to get some water to take with us and I heard a lot of screaming and crying. And I uh—went to the pavilion to see what was happening and I saw a lot of uh—mothers crying, holding their children and uh people laying on the ground. And I saw my wife holding my son who was dead—my fifteen-month-old baby. And my wife was dying and I went up and—and I hugged her. And at that point I knew that if I stayed, I would die but we had a way out and so we took it. And on the way to Port Kaituma we—I told them that they had started killing themselves and he [Prokes] had been told that somebody had gone after Congressman Ryan’s truck and it was just a matter of survival and we happened to be picked out. We did not know that the money was bound for the Soviet Embassy until we were a mile and half away from Jonestown (Footage is shown from the Jonestown body airlift and the Port Kaituma shooting aftermath) and we had never intended to do anything but to save our lives. (whispering) So it was circumstantial more than anything.

Prokes: Turned ourselves in—

Reporter: ¿Dónde está la maleta y el dinero?

Translator: Okay, the sixty-thousand dollar question: where is that bag?

(Camera zooms in on Tim)

Tim C: He [Mike Carter] took the police back to the neck. We had no idea how much money we were carrying until they told us. We—we did not know and we cannot care. We took them back the next day because we—along the way—because we’re running for our lives. We did not even carry it with us. We dumped the bag—

Reporter: (Unintelligible)

Translator: Uh—they want to know if by now, you know how much money was involved.

Tim: We were told—we were told—we found out actually through the media that how much—that how much we did not—

Footage plays of what appears to be the Peoples Temple San Francisco Headquarters

Reporter: ¿Se drogaban en la secta, era una secta de drogadictos?

Translator: He wants to know if people took drugs in this group.

Tim C: No.

Prokes: Wasn’t permitted.

Tim C: No smoking. No drinking.

Mike C: None—none known—yeah.

(Camera zooms in on Mike Prokes)

Reporter: ¿Jones no se drogaba?

Translator: He wants to know if Jones, well taking drugs—

(Camera pans to Tim Carter)

Tim C: That’s what I understand. I did not know that personally until just until this whole thing had happened.

Footage plays of the Jonestown pavilion and its victims

Reporter: ¿Ellos asistieron a algunos de los ensayos del cóctel de la muerte?

Translator: He wants to know—there (Shakes head)—have been told that there were some rehearsals with the famous drink—that was poisonous or not.  Is this story true?

Tim C: It was true but I wasn’t there. My brother was there.

(Camera pans to Mike Carter)

Mike C: Um I never—they’ve gone through drills before—never ever drinking anything. But uh it’s sort of a psychological uh play-on-the-mind to see you know—never—never drinking anything actually.

Translator: Yeah.

(Camera pans to Tim Carter)

Tim C: I think you should know that I lost a wife, a son, and a sister, my brother-in-law, my nephew. He [Mike Carter] lost his wife and son, and he [Prokes] lost a son.

Translator: Yeah.

(Camera pans over to Mike Prokes and Tim Carter)

Reporter: ¿Tu como ex periodista de CBS como puedes definir esto que ha ocurrido?

Footage plays of casualties from the Port Kaituma airstrip shooting and of Jackie Speier

Translator: He would like for you to say what do you think of the whole thing. How can you define this—what happened?

Mike C: Yeah.

Tim C: I don’t know—

Reporter: (Unintelligible)

Translator: As a journalist, or ex-journalist (referring to Prokes), how would you word it?

Prokes: Rephrase the question.


Prokes: I think to me—the concept of the Temple and what was happening—it started out as a dream and it turned into an absolute nightmare.

Reporter: ¿Cuál es el titulo que le pondrías a toda esta historia?

Translator: If you had to put a title to the story what would it be?

Audible laugh in background.

Prokes: I think you could put—I think you—I think you could put a million titles to it.

Tim C: I don’t think anything like this ever happened.

Translator: No. It has never happened anywhere.

Tim C: I don’t think there’s a word in the English language to describe how grotesque, how horrible, how monstrous, how senseless, what a waste, what a tragedy, and what a crime it was.

Translator: Yeah.

Footage plays of the Jonestown pavilion and its residents

Prokes: There can never be one headline to cover everything—all the ramifications of what took place.

(Camera zooms in on Prokes)

Tim C: Please, please, no more.

Translator: Yeah, I’m trying to cut him down.

Reporter: ¿Hubo asesinatos a parte de los suicidios?

Footage plays of reporters surveying the Jonestown aftermath

Translator: He wants to know if—or beyond the suicides, there was—

Tim C: This is the last question?

Translator: Yes. That there was gunning. That there were people killed by gun.

Tim C: We understand that three people died by gunshot wounds.

Footage plays of the Jonestown victims

(Camera zooms in on Prokes)

Reporter: ¿Saben quienes fueron los responsables de esas muertes?

Translator: He is asking again, do you know the people who did the shooting?

Tim C: We were not there. That is all. Okay. Okay.

Reporter: Gracias.

Tape ends.


[1] Tim is referring to Maria Katsaris—a Temple secretary and treasurer—who was presumed to be a part of Jim Jones’ inner-circle.