Tim and Grace Stoen’s efforts to reclaim John Victor from Guyana were complicated by the fact that they had both signed at least three forms of parental consent and power of attorney – in December 1974, in March 1976, and in September 1976 – signed by Tim alone, since Grace had departed almost three months earlier – which allowed Jim Jones and other leaders of Peoples Temple to make decisions on behalf of the child. Not only were the powers granted by the documents all-encompassing, they each specified the authority to remove the child from the country.
All three forms were drafted by the Temple for use in establishing custody rights over minors who would be leaving for Guyana. The minors would be without their parents, but would travel with their parents’ consent.
There are variations among the forms, beyond Grace’s absence on the third. The first misspells the child’s first name as “Jon”; in addition, the space for Tim’s signature is blank. The second form includes no notary stamp, it has a typographical error, and it includes a significant factual error: John’s birthdate is listed as April 27, 1974, whereas his true date of birth was January 25, 1972.
Separately, Grace signed statements of “Release from Liability,” both for herself and her son. Her personal statement is dated April 12, 1975. The latter is undated, and – except for her son’s name and her relationship to him – leaves blank all the spaces on the form. Neither was notarized.
Grace did provide information on her son for a form to be completed “by persons desirous of immigration into Guyana.” The undated government document includes an additional typed notation at the end that “The applicant is a member of People’s Temple Agricultural Mission in Guyana.” Her signature appears beneath a declaration that the statements are “true and made in good faith.”
Finally, the Temple had a slip of paper authorizing John Victor to be taken to Guyana. “I give my full permission to have my son, John Victor Stoen go to the Promised Land for any reason,” the note states in its entirety. It is not an affidavit – as the Temple described it – but it is unambiguous, and it is written and signed in Grace’s handwriting.
Undated note from Grace Stoen, RYMUR 89-4286-BB-31-a-43; also at RYMUR 89-4286-B-3-h-6