Q051 Summary

Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.

To read the Tape Transcript, click here. Listen to MP3 (Pt. 1, Pt. 2).
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FBI Catalogue : Jones speaking

FBI preliminary tape identification note: Contained in a box marked in part “White Night Tape 2”

Date cues on tape: March 20, 1978, in context of Edith Roller Journal (continuation from Q 833)

People named:

Public figures/National and international names:
Harold Brown, U.S. Secretary of Defense (by reference)
Forbes Burnham, Guyana Prime Minister (by reference)
Viola Burnham, wife of Guyana Prime Minister (by reference)
Guyana Minister of Home Affairs Vibert Mingo (by reference)
Ptolemy Reid, Guyana Deputy Prime Minister (by reference)
Francisco Franco, dictator leader of Spain
Henry Kissinger, U.S. Secretary of State
Nikita Khrushchev, former premier of USSR

Temple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives:
Wade & Mabel Medlock

Jonestown residents, full name unknown:
Clara (either Johnson or McKenzie)
Lois (probably Lois Ponts) (speaks)
Karen (probably Karen Layton)
Rhonda (probably Fortson; could be Rhonda Page)

Jonestown residents:
Paula Adams
Ben Barrett (speaks)
Joe (probably Joseph Helle, aka Joe Beam)
Jack Beam (speaks)
Patty (probably Cartmell)
Ava (probably Inghram)
Lee Inghram (speaks)
Marceline Jones (speaks)
Rita Lenin, aka Rita Tupper
Jim McElvane
Solomon McMurry, aka Solomon Turner
Edward Moore (speaks)
Kay Nelson (speaks)
Charlie Touchette
Joyce Touchette
Mary Wotherspoon

Bible verses cited:

“Jesus said, who is my father, my mother, my sister or my brother except he that does the will of the one that sent me.” (Mark 9:37, “Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.”)


The tape begins in the midst of a discussion about rooting out a traitor or an enemy, either within or outside the Jonestown community. Most of the tape, though, is a long session with an elderly member, Rev. Edward Moore, on the floor over letters and communications he tried to smuggle out to his daughter. He tries several responses – a calm and rational explanation for his action, an acknowledgment that he wasn’t thinking, an attempt to say he couldn’t remember why he had approached one member to get a letter out, an attempt to ask questions of clarification, several apologies – and every time, he is attacked, sometimes by Jones, principally by Jack Beam acting in the role of Jones, as he leads the community criticism of him. With the silent acquiescence of Jones, people pile on him, rehashing seemingly innocent incidents from months before. Moore doesn’t break down, except to offer apologies, but neither is he defiant.

As on other tapes, there is a lack of consistent response to questions from members of the community. A member asks if it is okay to ask a question, and is told the leadership is always open; the leadership then attacks the question – and the questioner – as insulting.

The issues – as stated in the beginning – are letters going back to the U.S., and the fact that Moore tried to send them through a nurse going to Georgetown, rather than through channels. Moore says he hasn’t heard from his daughter in a few months, and his last news of her was when Jones said he had saved her, so he was concerned. “I wasn’t concerned about nobody but her,” he says. “The main thing, I was wanting to hear from her.”

When he does express regret about going outside of channels to send the letter, Marceline says, you’re sorry only that you got caught. Moore immediately counters, “Oh, I wasn’t trying to hide it.”

The session continues with people informing on him making phone calls before leaving San Francisco, as he told his family that he was going. Moore defends his need to say goodbye, but he adds, “I was not putting my family ahead of Dad.”

When Moore says he doesn’t know where he got the idea to go to Kay Nelson to smuggle out the letter, Jones rejects that. He says Moore “must have got that idea someplace, because I don’t believe anybody’s got any insights but me.”

Late in the tape, Moore tries to say he made a mistake, but Beam won’t allow that explanation. A mistake is when you make a wrong turn, he says. This was thought out. This was a counter-revolutionary act.

Along the way, Jones gets to the real problem, when he reminds everyone that “I’ve preached against relatives,” because they bring nothing but trouble to the community. They try to get their kids or parents out, they join Concerned Relatives, they resort to dirty tricks, they won’t leave Jonestown alone. He concludes by saying, “you should have nothing to do with them.”

By approaching Kay Nelson, Jones says, Moore was insulting her. When Moore asks a question of clarification, he is attacked for insulting her. When he starts an apology by saying, if I did wrong, he is attacked for insulting her, because there are no if’s about it.

“Let this be an example,” Jones concludes. “Don’t try to send any messages to anybody.”

Beam tries to persuade Moore that his family isn’t interested in him, because they haven’t initiated contacts. Later, Jones adds that if Moore’s daughter really loved him, she would send money, because they sure could use it. He then puts everything that Jonestown brings to its citizens in terms of how much money it costs.

Beam then asks a new arrival, Ben Barrett, how he likes Jonestown. He replies that he’s not sure about the food. Jones replies, saying that while they are trying to improve the food, Barrett should recognize what the community gives him in the way of security and welfare and health care. And that doesn’t even include the problems of American society, which he has now escaped, such as racism and nuclear war. “America has a very short future,” Jones predicts, as he goes into the tape’s longest speech of an apocalyptic vision. “There’s not a scientist that gives a chance for the United States to last 14 years… every day having a new situation, like now it’s the confrontation of world powers with Israel and Lebanon, last week, Ethiopia and Somalia, in eyeball-to-eyeball nuclear confrontation. Finally, somebody makes a mistake. They’re going to make a bad mistake.”

Jones later to another oft-repeated theme, that they are a thousand strong, and that they hold a lot of power. And if reason and diplomacy doesn’t work, they can always take “the crazy nigger stance,” because that always works. “[A]in’t nothing like saying we’re gonna die, to get folks out of bed.”

But, he reassures them, “we’re a long way from dying tonight, I can tell you that. We’ve been close to it, we know the difference.”

At the end of the tape, he promises the community that he will bring everything to them, they will discuss everything, both good and bad. “That eliminates paranoia,” he says.

FBI Summary:

Date of transcription : 6/27/79

In connection with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) 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 26, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B60-5. This tape was found to contain the following:

The entire tape has a background recording. With Side A it sounds like a recording recorded at a faster speed and the last half of Side B sounds like a very faint recording at the same speed.

This is a night meeting concerning security at the location. JONES is attempting to identify two members who have violated rules. One stating she may not come back from town and a male attempting to send a message without censor by security group. He threatened a slow agonizing death if they didn’t confess and, after a sound like a gunshot, stated the device fired only one shot. He also stated it did not fire the first time but he willed it to fire on the second try and it would blow a hold the size of a bathtub in a person and with other devices they could defend themselves.

The two people were identified ant critized [criticized] extensively, particularly Reverend MOORE (phonetic), responsible for the attempted message. BEN BEARD (phonetic), white male, was also questioned.

JONES also stated the group threatened mass suicide several times to obtain their wishes with the government. He also stated Michigan State University was a CIA front group, the U.S. government was attempting to alter genes to produce non-thinking workers, etc.

Differences with FBI Summary:

Of the three paragraphs describing this meeting, one – the longest – was about a noise that sounded like a gunshot, and the fact that if someone didn’t confess, Jones “threatened a slow agonizing death.”

This is misleading. There is no reference to a “slow agonizing death,” although there is a threat that “it won’t be a sudden death.” Since this is within the first 30 seconds of the beginning of the tape, the context is completely unclear. It could as easily be one of the community’s many fantasy threats against the invading enemies.

Tape originally posted March 1999