Q688 Summary

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 persons

FBI preliminary tape identification note: One unlabeled/ “1st 3/4 movie…”

Date cues on tape: Segment 1 in Jonestown, probably fall 1977; segment 2 probably 1975 (Janet Phillips, a member of the church in Ukiah who is mentioned on the tape, left about 1975)

People named:*

Public figures/National and international names:
Che Guevara (#2)

Temple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives; defectors
Tim Stoen (#1)
David Parker Wise (#1)
John Biddulph (#2)
Vera Biddulph (#2)
Jim Cobb (#2)
Terri Cobb (#2)
Bill Collins (#2)
Faith (last name unknown) (#2)
Jan (last name unknown) (#2)
Laleena (first or last name unknown) (#2)
Lane (first or last name unknown) (#2)
Linda (last name unknown) (#2)
Paul (last name unknown) (#2)
Wayne Pietila (#2)
Danny Phillips (#2)
Tom Podgorski (#2)
Mickey Touchette (#2)

Temple members, full name unknown:
Chris (#1)
Christine (#2)
Della (#2)
Karen (#2)
Kathy (#2)
Lee (#2)
Van (#2)

Known Temple members
Mike Cartmell (#2)
Robert Cordell (#1)
Lynetta Jones, Jim Jones’ mother (#1)
Jim McElvane (#1)
Mike Prokes (#1)
Robin Tschetter (#1)
Jack Arnold Beam (#2)
Gene Chaikin (speaks) (#2)
Ava Jones
Anita Kelley (#2)
Tom Kice (#2)
Wanda Kice (#2)
Judy Lang, better known as Judy Ijames, nee Judy Stahl (#2)
Christine Lucientes (#2)
Joyce Parks (#2)
Janet Phillips (#2)
Mary Wotherspoon (#2)

(*People named are separated into the segments in which they are mentioned)

Bible verses cited: None

Summary:

This tape consists of two lengthy interviews with unidentified members of Peoples Temple. The interviewer seems to be the same person in both segments, and is probably Eugene Chaikin, an attorney within the Temple. The first interview is with one woman, although the soft, indecipherable voice of a third person drifts through periodically. The second interview is with several young adult members of the Temple. There is no specific date given, although the first includes a reference to “here in Guyana,” so it presumably was made following the mass migrations to the agricultural project in Fall 1977. The second interview was probably made about the same time.

The common thread of the interviews is the Temple’s attempt to pull together evidence in the form of affidavits against defectors. The targets of the first are David Parker Wise and Tim Stoen. In the second, Chaikin asks about the activities of the Eight Revolutionaries (also known as the Gang of Eight, although neither label is used in the tape). The eight were members in lower leadership positions who left the Temple in a dramatic defection in 1973 and whose criticisms of Jim Jones were widely publicized.

In the first interview, Chaikin asks a female member of the security force – a woman who at one point represented herself for inheritance purposes as Robert Cordell’s wife – about David Parker Wise’s placement of listening devices in some telephones at Peoples Temple’s headquarters in San Francisco. The woman speaks of the hierarchy of the Temple, and describes the importance of the third floor, where she says she saw Wise plant a bug in a phone. It was a place for “Dad’s personal staff that he had to get his hand on right away, people who were trusted, or either people who had to be watched closely.”

Chaikin says that the interview will not reveal anything the leadership doesn’t already know. “I’m not asking you a bunch of questions on this tape. You know damn well I know the answers to them better than you do… But the reason I’m doing it is because we need to write an affidavit about these things, and I want it to come out in your words, from your point of view, right? Now, that’s why I’m asking.”

The woman speaks at length about a revolutionary act she formulated on her own to retaliate against the pressures that were bringing her down and were threatening the Temple movement. The plan was to outfit a van with explosives, and to travel up the central California coast between L.A. and San Francisco, blowing up bridges and freeing prisoners from jails and “concentration camps” along the way. She said she fully expected to die in the process.

Chaikin brings Tim Stoen’s name into the conversation at several points, asking the woman what advice the former member might have given her, or whether the attorney was instrumental in hooking her up with contacts to help her complete her revolutionary acts. She is uncertain about most of it, except that “Stoen told me to keep the van … And he told me to keep that connection [for the explosives] because we might need it.” “That’s nice,” Chaikin replies.

In the second conversation, Chaikin tries to learn about the paramilitary training which several eventual defectors gave to the half dozen young adults being interviewed. The difference is one of terminology, but one description of a walk in the woods sounds different in an affidavit than another. “Were they hikes or were they cross-country marches?” Chaikin asks “I mean, were you out there observing nature, or were you out there on paramilitary practice? What was it?” When one youth responds, “Military practice,” Chaikin says okay.

The Temple attorney then tries to learn what reasons the defectors might have given them for the maneuvers. He tries several times – “Okay, now what kind of talk went along with all this bullshit? … What was the purpose of all this? I mean … what were you all talking about? Why were you doing all this shit? … What were they saying about it at the time?” – before he prompts them with the answers he wants to hear: “Were they saying, you was all wanting to be heroes or revolution… You know, you were a part in the revolution, but were they talking about it?” When the substantive silence lasts, Chaikin goes further: “Okay now, I want to know, I cannot honestly believe that you guys went and bounced your butts over all that rough terrain for all those months and went though these calisthenics and all this bullshit and never talked about why you were doing it? … I just want to ask you what the hell [Jim] Cobb was saying, what [Mike] Cartmell and them were saying about this shit … That’s military training. There’s no real – there’s no purpose in any civilian life for doing that kind of work, is there?”

Finally, one person says that the purpose of the training was to get in shape in case they ever have a revolution, and that the youth supposed there would be a revolution and that they would fight in it. Chaikin asks, “Is that what they said?” The youth replies, “You more or less got that impression.”

Chaikin continues to elicit certain, more damning responses about the defectors when he asks about the circumstances of their departure. Again, he has difficulty. He prompts them again with the understanding everyone in the church has, and asks them to elaborate on the common knowledge. “Now I know one thing. I know in August 1973, they all pulled out of Redwood Valley … in two automobiles, and they had a whole bunch of guns and ammunition and some camping shit in the back… that much I know, but that’s about all I know, right?” In reply, one youth insists, “That’s all we know. They just up and left. Nobody even suspected it.”

Chaikin consistently tries to fill in holes. Was Jim Cobb at the certain place on a certain occasion? No one remembers. Yes, Cobb was there, the attorney supplies his own answer. Now, what were his feelings at the time? Other questions are similarly loaded: “Were you ever impressed with the fact that Jim Cobb and Mike Cartmell had money, had more money than anybody else?” He also points out that the ones with the guns were the ones who defected. He asks about the note the defectors left behind. The responses seem to do little to advance the Temple’s attempts to retaliate against the Eight Revolutionaries.

The group of young adults criticizes the defectors only when they talk about catharsis sessions that Temple members had to work out their problems. There might have been serious issues involved, one says, but Jim Cobb and Wayne Pietila reduced everything to one thing: “He always pit black against white or white against black. Everything had to be a race issue, when you boil it down to the personality or asshole or something like that.”

In June 2005, Mike Cartmell wrote the following contextual note: “Joyce Parks (then Joyce Beam) and I lived, as fellow students only, in a Temple member’s mobile home on Santa Rosa Avenue in the spring of 1968 when we both attended Santa Rosa Junior College… The next academic year I put together the college dorms. Also, I did in fact organize the hikes, orienteering, calisthenics, etc [mentioned on the tape]. I did so in order to prepare for the eventuality that we’d have to live in a post nuclear world in rural Mendocino County.

“At that point, I think we all assumed, given the relevant prophesy, there would be a nuclear war, which would begin on the sixteenth of some month or other (at 3:09 am, though no one seemed to know the specific time zone) and which we would survive. It seemed to me that we (particularly the young people) would need some military training simply to move and protect the general Temple population when this eventuality arose. As part of this, we did play “capture the flag” a few times. These sessions took place at the dorms in Santa Rosa and on Jim Randolph’s country property in Mendocino County. There were no weapons; nor was there any weapons training involved. I continued this training after I left for law school in 1971 1972. However, I was not involved in the catharses at the dorms. They took place in other college meetings in which I played no role. I heard about them from Karen Layton after Jim Cobb and Wayne Pietila were criticized for holding catharsis sessions outside the general meetings. Jim, Wayne, and I were very good friends.”

FBI Summary:

Date of transcription: 3/30/79

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 26, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B62 #120. This tape was found to contain the following:

Side A consisted of an interview with a couple of individuals regarding their involvement in youth group meetings (while in the dorms at some college or university) and their associations with the church at that time. A female referred to as DAVIS, advised that they went down there in 1969. Weekly meetings were held at which time members discussed problems and participated in para- military practices. The following names, all phonetic spellings, were mentioned as having been involved in the group sessions: MIKE CARTMEL [Cartmell], JACK ARNOLD BEAM, JIM COBB, JOYCE SPARKS, and ANITA ATKELLER.

Side B was a continuation of this interview. The female interviewer spoke of revolutionary leadership training which consisted of cross-country marches, calisthenics and learning military maneuvers. Weapons were accumulated (hand pistols), although there were no specific plans for a revolution.

Differences with FBI Summary:

The FBI seems to be looking for the same thing that Gene Chaikin was, which is evidence that Temple leaders conducted revolutionary training. The summary mentions the same things – “cross-country marches, calisthenics and learning military maneuvers” – but fails to say that the interviewed youth referred to the hikes that way only in response to loaded questions and promptings.

The summary captures some of the words and ideas that were expressed, but without the context of the interviewer’s agenda, or the reasons that the Temple leadership felt compelled to conduct the interviews at all, it is distorted and misleading.

The reference to “Davis” is not to a person, but to the University of California at Davis.

Tape originally posted November 1998

Originally posted on June 16th, 2013.

Last modified on May 1st, 2015.
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