Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) Report of December 12, 1978

[Editor’s Note: The findings of this investigation were also included in pages 14-17 of the FBI’s prosecutive report of January 12, 1979, and are available as RYMUR 89-4286-1681-04.]

Department of the Treasury – Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
Report on Investigation (Criminal Enforcement)
To: Special Agent in Charge
San Francisco, California
Date: 12/12/78

On November 24, 1978, this Agent was assigned by the SAC, San Francisco, to participate in a Customs, FBI, ATF Task Force to investigate any possible inquiries as to People’s Temple. ATF’s role is to support the above Task Force by tracing the 176 firearms found in Jonestown and attempt to find the source of the firearms.

On November 22, 1978, [name deleted], U.S. Customs, was contacted and advised this agent that they have been investigating the People’s Temple for approximately two years for various Customs violations. He then informed this Agent that Customs had received information that on at least one occasion the People’s Temple had requested that the members give unregistered firearms to the church. According to the information, members of the church purchased guns and then turned them over to the church.

On November 24, 1978, [name deleted], Customs Representative for Interpol, was contacted after a request was made from Customs and FBI for a trace of the firearms. [name deleted] has sent a request to the Guyana Government for a discription [description] of the firearms.

On November 27, 1978, Special Agent [name deleted], ATF Liaison, Washington, D.C., was contacted and a request made that this office contact the State Department, who has set up a Task Force. According to information received, all gun information is to be turned over to ATF.

On November 27, 1978, S/A [name deleted] contacted the FBI Representative to the State Department and requested a list of guns found in Jonestown. Also, a request was made for the list of names of the persons found dead in Jonestown.

On November 28, 1978, a list of 32 guns was received from the State Department, and a trace was started. [Editor’s note: The listing includes 31 entries.]

On November 28, 1978, S/A [name deleted], FBI, San Francisco, was contacted and allowed this agent to review their files pertaining to the People’s Temple.

[Page 2]

S/A [name deleted] provided three names of ex-members that should be contacted by ATF. According to [name deleted], these persons have pertinent information pertaining to firearms obtained by the People’s Temple. They are [names deleted], all are residents of San Francisco. [line deleted] and are unavailable for interviews without the attorney’s permission.

Attempts have been made to talk to [name deleted] without success, repeated messages are being left.

On November 29, 1978, FBI released a list to ATF of 967 People’s Temple members who traveled to Guyana with Jim Jones. This list will be used to compare the names of People’s Temple members who might have purchased firearms.

On December 4, 1978, this Agent received from the SAC a partial list of the guns found in Guyana, the list contained 31 firearms found. ATF Tracing had traced 8 of the firearms.

On December 5, 1978, this Agent interviewed [name deleted, likely Jeannie Mills aka Deanna Mertle] of the Freedom House, [address deleted], Berkeley, California reference firearms and explosives. The interview revealed [name deleted, likely Mills] is an ex-member of People’s Temple and that she defected from the church and set up the Freedom House in order to help any other members who wanted to defect. The staff of the Freedom House conducted interviews with ex-members and provided safe houses. They were also a watch dog over the temple attempting to get local, State and Federal enforcement interested in what they considered the illegal activities of the church.

[name deleted] she has talked to [name deleted], who had defected in August 1978. [name deleted], according to [name deleted], was knowledgeable about the guns purchased by the People’s Temple, however she was only being interviewed through her attorney [name deleted], San Francisco.

On December 6, 1978, [name deleted] was interviewed and had nothing of interest related to firearms.

From December 4, 1978 through December 11, 1978, the following traces of 31 firearms that were received from the AFT [ATF] Liaison via the State Department of 176 guns presumably found at the People’s Temple encampment at Jonestown, Guyana. The following are the firearms:

1. Smith & Wesson, revolver, 4″ barrel, .38 special, serial number C911747, traced to a [name deleted], city unknown, DOB: [identifying information deleted], OCA 16159, Date of Transfer March 10, 1973.

2. Walter [Walther] Automatic Pistol, PPK Model, 9mm serial number 138188S, licensed to licensed to Eugene B. Chaikin, Redwood Valley, Ukiah, California. Chaikin is an attorney for the People’s Temple and is reportedly in Guyana or in route to the United States. DOB: 12-18-32, Date of Registration is 08-04-71.

[Page 3]

3. Smith & Wesson, revolver, 2″ barrell [barrel], 5 shot, .38 caliber, serial number 273666, registered to Michael J. Prokes, Redwood Valley, Ukiah, California. He is the ex-newsman and public relations officer for the People’s Temple and a member of the security force. DOB: 05-31-47, OCA A16613, Date of Transfer April 3, 1974.

4. Sturm-Ruger, 10/22 carbine rifle, serial number 116-53921, registered to [name deleted], San Francisco, California. DOB: [identifying information deleted]. Date of Transfer March 15, 1977. Purchased from Bob Chow’s Gun Shop, San Francisco. Known temple member – persumed [presumed] dead.

5. Liberty, No. 21 revolver, .22 caliber, serial number 48805, registered to Zielpha Lisa Ross [Elsie Zilpha Ross], 228 ½ W. 59th, Los Angeles, California, DOB: 07-05-1888. Date of Transfer December 13, 1969. Known temple member – presumed dead.

6. Sturm-Ruger, revolver, .357 caliber, 4″ barrel, serial number 158-12987, registered to Timothy Maurice Swinney, Redwood Valley, Ukiah, California. DOB: 09-28-38. Date of Transfer April 25, 1972 from Yokayo Rifle Shop, Ukiah.

7. Ruger Automatic Pistol, .22 long rifle, serial number 13-11054, registered to Robert Edward Kice, Redwood Valley, Ukiah, California, DOB: 01-04-48, Date of Transfer June 28, 1975, sold by Rod’s Liquor and Sprots [Sports], Ukiah. Known temple member – presumed dead.

8. Winchester Rifle, .243 caliber, serial number 72-24208, registered to [name deleted], Redwood Valley, Ukiah, California, DOB: [identifying information deleted] Date of Purchase March 9, 1977. She is present spokesman for People’s Temple. She picked up the gun and ammunition the day before leaving for Guyana. [name deleted] of Yokayo Rifle Shop, where the gun was purchased, taught her how to shoot the weapon and advised he knew it was going to Guyana.

9. Browning Slide Action Carbine, .30-06 caliber, serial number 75866M9, registered to [name deleted], San Francisco, California, DOB: [identifying information deleted] Date of Purchase September 16, 1969 from Roos-Atkins, San Francisco. Known temple member – presumed alive.

10. Sears & Roebuck, Model 54, .30-30 caliber, serial number 273810, registered to Louis Curry, 32 Arkansas, San Francisco, California, DOB: 10-06-38, Date of Transfer August 22, 1977, OCA 0480700.

11. H&R Model 922, 9 shot revolver, .22 caliber, serial number K8657, no state or Federal records for this period of time, manufactured in 1950, to Crown Jewelry, Mazoola [Missoula], Montana.

12. [cut off by photocopy] High Standard Automatic Pistol, Model 101, .22 caliber, serial number 512543, registered to [name deleted], California, Date of Transfer 02-27-58, OCA 401794.

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13. Smith & Wesson revolver, 6″ barrel, .38 caliber, serial number S820402, to Universal Hardward [Hardware], Los Angeles, California on April 2, 1946, no records available.

14. Olin Winchester Signal Flare Launcher, .25mm, serial number 029432, no model number – unable to check.

15. Colt Automatic Pistol, .25 caliber, serial number 318752, sold to Montana Hardware, Butte, Montana 1922, no records.

16. Winchester, Model 88 Rifle, .308 caliber, serial number 82976, firearm manufactured in 1959, no disposition records kept by Winchester.

17. U.S. Army Carbine M-1 Model, .30 caliber, serial number 3094280, military weapon – military has no record of this firearm.

18. Remington Model 742, .30-06 caliber, serial number 15824, date of manufacture was 1952 – no records available prior to 1957.

19. Western Field Model 880A, slide action rifle, .22 long rifle, no serial number – unable to trace firearm without serial number.

20. Remington, Model 742 carbine, .308 caliber, serial number 46316, date of manufacture was 1955 – no records available prior to 1957.

21. Winchester, .30-30 caliber saddle gun, serial number 36519, no long gun records prior to 1968 – unable to trace.

22. Remington, Model 11 Shotgun, .12 gauge, serial number 773398, discontinued in 1942 – no records available.

23. Remington, Wingmaster, .12 gauge Shotgun, Model 870, serial number S946514M, [name deleted], California, DOB: [identifying information deleted], POB: FL, CA number H0588466, Date of Transfer March 22, 1975 from Yokayo Rifle Shop, Ukiah.

24. J.C. Higgins, .12 gauge Shotgun, Model 60, no serial number – firearm manufactured by High Standard, no serial number – unable to trace.

25. Foremost .12 gauge, Model 6670H, Savage Arms Company, no serial number – no serial number, unable to trace.

26. Universal Firearms, .12 gauge Shotgun, serial number D3447. Wnet [Went] to Universal Sportings in Miami – business discontinued. Records showed acquisition but no disposition.

27. [cut off by photocopy] Western Field .12 gauge pump action shotgun, serial number XMH-565D, above is a production number indicating Noble as the manufacturer – this is not a serial number, unable to trace. [Editorial note: RYMUR Serial 35, a list of guns recovered in Jonestown and turned over the Guyanese government, describes this gun as: “Western Field 12 guage [gauge] pump action shotgun serial no XMH-565D, engraving the judge wooden stock and modified barrel.”]

[Page 5]

28. Remington, .12 gauge Shotgun, Model 870, serial number T019755M. [name deleted] DOB: [identifying information deleted], Ukiah, California, POB: [identifying information deleted], CA number H0588466, Date of Transfer March 22, 1975 from Willits Feed and Sporting Goods, Willits, California.

A check with AFS/CII, Sacramento, California revealed that [name deleted], spoksman [spokesman] for the People’s Temple has purchased the following handguns: 1. Sturm-Ruger, .357 caliber, serial number 15120167, Date of Transfer February 22, 197[5] 1975, OCA G173064. @ [2]. Smith & Wesson, .38 caliber, revolver, serial number 636J9, Date of Transfer May 10, 1977, OCA F061061. This weapon was licensed to her to carry in a concealable manner. 3. Smith & Wesson, .38 caliber, serial number 13K8953, Date of Transfer September 23, 1977, OCA G803902.

On December 5, 1978, Charles Geary [Garry] delivered three weapons to the San Francisco Police Department indicating that the weapons were in his possession for a considerable time and belonged to the People’s Temple. The three weapons were: 1. Smith & Wesson, .38 caliber, serial number 636J9, which was registered to [name deleted]. [Ed. note: This weapon was previously listed, in the immediately-preceding paragraph] 2. Sturm-Ruger, Security Six, .357 caliber, serial number 15327760, which was registered [name deleted] San Francisco. Also note: he purchased a Sturm-Ruger, 10/22 carbine rifle, serial number 116-53921 on March 15, 1977. [Ed. note: This weapon was previously listed, as entry 4 above] A check with AFS revealed no other firearms purchased by [name deleted]. The third weapon was a Smith & Wesson, Chief Special, .38 caliber, serial number J142065, registered to [name deleted], San Francisco. A check with AFS revealed no other firearms purchased by [name deleted].

On December 8, 1978 the following trace information was received for the three omitt[ed] omitted from the above list of 32 firearms:

29. Remington, Model 788, .308 caliber rifle, serial number 6110319, shipped to Western Hoegle, Glendale, California on March 30, 1972; then shipped to White Front Store #231, San Francisco, California on July 12, 1972. Company out of business – no records available.

30. Remington Model 700, .308 caliber bolt action rifle, serial number 6742465, shipped to American Arms Company warehouse, Massachusetts, on July 25, 1974; then sold to San Francisco Gun Exchange, San Francisco on September 29, 1974; then sold to Jack Lovell Beam, 224 Hanos Avenue, Ukiah, California on October 31, 1977. Identified as 5’10”, 200 lbs. WM, DOB: 11-25-25.

31. AR7 Explorer rifle, .22 caliber, serial number 73270, sold to Powderhorn, Burbank, California on April 25, 1966. Out of business – no records available.

This investigation is continuing with interviews of People’s Temple members and various gun dealers.

Originally posted on May 15th, 2013.

Last modified on February 2nd, 2022.
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