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: Identified Individuals Speaking
FBI preliminary tape identification note: One Tracs 60/4 aped 2 ½ x 4 cards attached Gary Lanbrev & Liz Forman
Date cues on tape: Spring 1976 (Jones recently spoke with Rosalyn Carter)
Rep. Burton (either John or Phil), San Francisco congressman
Jimmy Carter, Democratic presidential candidate (by reference)
Rosalyn Carter, wife of Jimmy Carter
Betty Ford, wife of President Gerald Ford (by reference)
George Moscone, San Francisco Mayor (by reference)
Liz Forman (speaks)
Garry Lambrev (speaks)
Liz Forman’s mother (by reference)
René (numerous in Peoples Temple)
Rosa (numerous in Peoples Temple)
Linda Swinney’s daughter
Bible verses cited: None
(Note: This tape was transcribed by Michael Bellefountaine. The editors gratefully acknowledge his invaluable assistance.)
This tape contains a series of phone calls during which Peoples Temple member Garry Lambrev tracks down and then speaks with a friend, Liz Forman, who has recently left the Temple to start a life outside the church. In his efforts, Lambrev cajoles, pleads, lectures, promises and commiserates with Forman. He speaks to her out of the longtime friendship that they have shared, but he also has a somewhat scripted message he needs to deliver from Jim Jones and the Temple leadership. Forman understands his motivations and his predicament – she was “used” by Jones and the church several times when Lambrev left the fold – and says she understands that she is outside of Jones’ “protection”. Nevertheless, she does not yield.
The conversation between two old friends is full of affection and gentle bantering, although Lambrev lies to her early in the tape when he tells her that the conversation is not being recorded. In addition, his assigned task to deliver the message from Jim and Marceline gives him a curt tone at times. He starts by saying, “I want you to hear this message. Like, could you just listen to it straight.” At one point several moments later, after they have strayed from the subject at hand, he struggles to return to his task. “Now listen,” he says, “why don’t you just let me finish this. I want you to get a coherent idea of what this message is. And if we both bog it down, it’ll make it harder for you to really put the things together.” She responds with quiet encouragement to continue what he has to say.
As for the message itself, Forman likely knows what it is. Lambrev acknowledges her work, and reminds her of what it’s meant. “[C]onsidering the work that you’ve done… after all the years of your life that you’ve put in, after all the hells that you’ve been through,” he asks, how can she just throw it away.
The two return several times to the protection that Jim Jones offers his followers. “Jim hates to see you make this mistake,” Lambrev says. “We really hate to see you burn your bridges behind you, kid. We really do.” This is especially troubling to Lambrev because of the health issues which Forman faces. The woman says she’s no longer troubled by the problems and has made her peace with the possibility of dying as a result of them. “The thing is, we don’t have choice over the way you’re going to die, Liz,” Lambrev responds. “It’s likely to be slow and drawn-out, … just extreme suffering… You could be lying in a hospital bed for years dying of paralysis, unable to communicate that you’re in pain.”
Forman acknowledges all of it, but holds to her decision. She asks Lambrev to help her get mail forwarded, she asks his assistance in dealing with some dogs in a shelter, she tells him where some of the materials she used for her Temple work can be found for her successor.
She also explains her decision on numerous occasions as not being alienated from the principles and goals of the church, but rather questions her own dedication, commitment, and productivity. She is no longer disciplined enough to do what’s expected of her, she says, she’s tired and stressed, and that made her rebellious. And all of it made her feel guilty.
Lambrev’s concessions don’t help. Jim has told him personally, he says, that Forman can live alone, that she doesn’t have to live communally, that she can return to the larger fold at her own pace. “He’s beautiful about that,” Forman replies, “but how do you think I’d feel? Making a special case of myself. Oh, Liz Forman has to live alone because she can’t handle it. What a fucker she is.”
She also doesn’t want to come back just because she’s sick and needy, and that’s when the conversation becomes passionate. She gives her old friend some of the details of her illness, to which Lambrev replies, “Goddamn it, Liz, you need his protection. You’re worse than a fool.”
Forman agrees. “See, the thing is, Garry, I know I need his protection, but I don’t want it anymore. Even if I wanted it, it would be cheap to take it… I don’t like it when people come back because they are scared.” She disagrees that it’s her ego that’s fragile. On the contrary, she says at the end of the tape, “if I can’t be there for a high reason, then I have no right to be there out of wanting to protect my stupid little body, you see? That’s a very stupid, cheap reason to be in the Temple or to come back to the Temple.”
[Ed. note: Forman did not return to the Temple, and Lambrev eventually left. They have remained friends over the years.]
Date of transcription: 3/5/79
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 March 1, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B47 #63. This tape was found to contain the following:
Side A – Telephone conversation of GARY (last name unknown) trying to convince LIZ (last name unknown) to “return to the group”
Side B – Blank
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate – other than its misspelling of Garry Lambrev’s name – and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted February 2005