Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee, III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
FBI Catalogue: Tapes Not Summarized
FBI preliminary tape identification note: One Tracs 60/ “JJ on TV with Dunbar” 6-3×5 cards attached
Date cues on tape: Part 2 probably 1973, during broadcast of Watergate hearings
Peoples Temple members
Birdie (probably Arnold, could be Johnson)
Etta (likely Etta Thompson)
Connie (last name unknown)
Mara/Elmira (last name unknown) (speaks)
Winnie (probably Winneann O’Bryant, aka Zelline O’Bryant)
Public figures/National and international names:
Edgar Cayce, psychic
Jean Dixon, psychic
Mary Baker Eddy, evangelist
Uri Geller, psychic
Kathryn Kuhlman, evangelist
Oral Roberts, evangelist
Bob Marsh, TV news reporter
Mr. Case (first name unknown)
Cynthia (last name unknown) (daughter of Mara/Elmira)
Naya (phonetic) (mother of Mara/Elmira)
Jack (last name unknown)
Marcie (Marceline Jones?)
Martha (last name unknown)
Carol Nash, biologist
Ike (person at station?)
Bible verses cited:
“The church does its part in taking care of the necessities of its people, as the Scripture acknowledges, take care of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”)
“I think they distort the Scripture in Mark, about handling of snakes.” (Mark 16:18, “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”)
This tape consists of two conversations, one on each side of the tape, which appear to be unrelated to each other. Side B includes references to Watergate hearings, which would date it to either 1973 or 1974, but there are no such indicators for Side A.
Part 1 of the tape consists of a conversation of relatively poor quality between a young woman and an elderly black woman, both members of Peoples Temple, and takes place in the home or apartment of the elderly woman. The elderly woman’s name is either Mira or Mara or Elmira, but none of those names appear on the lists of Jonestown residents. The younger woman never identifies herself.
While the context is unclear, it appears that the young woman has stopped by to check on the elderly woman, perhaps even to do a simple medical procedure such as taking blood pressure or giving an injection.
As the tape begins, the young woman draws out Elmira to give more details about people who have asked her about Peoples Temple and Jim Jones. The women imply that the outsiders want more than information about the church; rather, they want to attract Elmira to their church — or perhaps, back to the church that Elmira once attended — so they have expressed curiosity about the things that Jones does.
Elmira says she won’t go to any other church, though. She says she felt she was treated like dirt in other churches, whereas she feels “safe” in Peoples Temple. She tells of Jones’ discovery of a cancer within her, and goes into great detail about the cancer that she coughed up during a Temple service.
Despite Elmira’s refusal to consider any church other than the Temple, they both discuss the recent departures — and anticipated departures — of several Temple members. Since the people who may leave are closer to Elmira, the younger woman tries to probe into their reasons for wanting to go. Elmira insists she doesn’t know, that she doesn’t understand.
Elmira asks the young woman for assistance with several problems in her life, ranging from wanting to persuade a man named Jack — a relative? — at her previous church to leave that church, to getting new drapes for her apartment. Even though Elmira is still moving in, and still has some of her belongings at someone else’s house, she complains that the landlord is ripping her off. Whether she is asking the young woman for assistance with the landlord, or to get her into Temple housing, or something else, is unclear. The young woman does reply how grateful she is for “Jim’s promise that we’ll always have a roof, and that he will take care of it.”
Part 2 of the tape is a TV talk show interview with Jim Jones, conducted by a host Jim Dunbar. The tape is made off the air, rather than in the studio.
The host reminds the listeners that he had already interviewed Lester Kinsolving, a newspaper columnist for the San Francisco Examiner and the nemesis of the Temple, and – as Dunbar put it – Kinsolving “said some awful things about the Reverend James Jones.” Whether Jones’ invitation to the show was already planned, or whether it came in response to an outpouring of mail demanding equal time, is unclear; however, the mail had come. Adding to the mail volume was the fact that Jones’ first scheduled appearance was pre-empted by a Watergate hearing, something that Dunbar points out was beyond the station’s control.
Dunbar asks about a recent fire at the San Francisco Temple. Jones says the preliminary finding of the fire department was that of arson. He adds that he had had a premonition of disaster – not of arson per se, but of something – and had held over the people in the church in Redwood Valley, thereby saving their lives. Dunbar is curious about Jones’ premonitions and other miracles, and while he professes to be skeptical, he does say he is impressed by Jones’ track record.
Several callers to the show express opinions and ask questions about Jones’ faith healings. While some are as skeptical as the host, others – who are members of the Temple – talk about the healings they themselves have received. The topic comes up several times, and towards the end of the program, Jones emphasizes that the healings are no substitute for professional medical care, that he goes to a doctor himself and encourages everyone to do the same.
A number of callers seem to be acting as plants for Jones to make his points, so when one calls with an easy (but unintelligible) question, the host jumps in and says he thinks the caller already knows the answer. Dunbar then remarks that the lines coming into the studio are jammed “from people who are, I think, confirmed in their belief.” He asks them to step aside and “get … some folks who want to ask some honest questions.”
Even so, most questions Jones takes from the callers and from Dunbar himself are ones he’s answered before, including ones of the size of the church membership, its services, and its politics. On the last point, he says he opposes totalitarianism in all forms, whether it be fascism or communism. He adds the church believes in the “Jeffersonian dream, of the government that governs least, governs best… [W]e’re concerned about the basic freedoms… not partisan politics. We’re concerned very much about the role of the free press recently, and of civil rights in general.”
When one caller asks him about his position on abortion, Jones says he is concerned with “with any form of human murder. I mean, when we start on the fetus, I’m wondering where we will go next.” In the same answer, though, he says “a woman’s body is certainly is a part of her.” He concludes his answer that “I have not championed any view either one way or the other.”
Date of transcription: 3/8/79
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 6, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B62-13 and nothing was contained thereon which was considered to be of evidentiary nature or beneficial to the investigation of Congressman RYAN.
Differences with FBI Summary:
There is nothing to compare the two summaries, since the FBI did not write anything for this, or 64 other tapes which bear the notation “Tapes Not Summarized.” These tapes seems to have little on them which the FBI could use for its purposes of investigating crimes arising from the Jonestown tragedy, but then again, that describes many other tapes as well. The difference seems to be that one or two FBI agents catalogued this set of tapes — as evidenced by the typewriter used in writing the reports — and that generally, the transcriptions were made early in the process, before someone may have asked for greater detail in the reports.
Tape originally posted February 2003