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 Miscellaneous
FBI preliminary tape identification note: One Scotch C-90/ (illegible line) in envelope
Date cues on tape: Likely December 1977 (one month after Charles Garry’s November 1977 statement that he has been to paradise, commercials for Christmas)
Richard Nixon, former U.S. President
Rev. Sun Myung Moon, religious leader
Shirley MacLaine, American actress
Charles Garry, Temple attorney
Phil Tracy, investigative reporter for New West
Ronn Owens, KGO radio host (speaks)
Larry Houghton (likely a producer at KGO)
Temple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives:
Sherwin Harris (speaks)
Sandy Rozynko (speaks)
Neva Sly (speaks)
Marvin Swinney (speaks)
Mickey Touchette (speaks)
Liane Harris (by reference)
Annie Joyce Rozynko (by reference)
Christian Rozynko (by reference)
Michael Rozynko (by reference)
Helen Swinney (by reference)
Cleave Swinney (by reference)
Timothy Swinney (by reference)
Donald Swinney (by reference)
Jackie Swinney (by reference)
Joyce Touchette (by reference)
Touchette family (by reference)
Bible verses cited: None
A month after Peoples Temple attorney Charles Garry was on a morning radio program in San Francisco – during which time he described Jonestown as a paradise – the program host interviews an ex-member of the Temple who has relatives in Guyana. The host, Ronn Owens, refers to the different perspective “as kind of a point–counterpoint to Charles Garry.” During the call-in portion during the second half of the program, several other former members call in. Like Marvin Swinney, the show’s main guest, they are all critical of Jim Jones and concerned about the welfare of their relatives.
Swinney begins by specifically challenging Garry’s description of Jonestown as paradise. He talks about Temple members being overworked, underfed, and beaten, just as he was beaten before he left the Temple. He also speaks about the difficulties he and his wife had in the first weeks after defecting, of being harassed and threatened, of being denied access to their son who had remained with the Temple, of the late night phone calls and visits from Temple members. “It’s not easy to become an ex-member,” he says.
He says there is no formal organization to help disaffected members who leave, although there is a support system.
One recurring theme – both in this program and apparently from the call-in portion of the previous interview with Charles Garry – is the difficulty which most family members have in getting it touch with their relatives. Despite Garry’s protests to the contrary, attempts to place calls to Guyana through his office or at the Temple itself are met with excuses of priority radio traffic, sunspots, bad weather conditions, anything that prevents the relatives from getting through. “Yeah, I could understand it, if it happened once or maybe even twice,” Swinney says, “but nobody has been able to talk to anybody down there yet.”
Owens volunteers to field letters from Temple relatives who wish to speak to their relatives, with the promise that he will go over to Garry’s office when the time comes and set up some mechanism so the calls will go through. As the calls rolls in from people with experiences similar to Swinney’s, Owens becomes more impassioned by the task. “[W]hat I would like to see is the follow-through,” he says near the end of the program, “that, not only the calls go through, but that there be no Peoples Temple members around at the time. As I said, let me handle it from that standpoint. I doubt very, very seriously that they’re going to try and hit me with sunspots or the like. If they do, I will raise holy hell right here on the air.”
Throughout the program, Owens and the Temple’s critics alike speak up for Garry himself, describing him as a respectable man. As one caller puts it, “I don’t think it’s because he is being deceptive as much as that he is being deceived.”
Most of the calls appear to be legitimate, but one does clang falsely. A woman calls to say she had been in Jonestown for a few months before she came back, but her descriptions of the place are different from anyone else’s, even those of Jones’ harshest critics. She says the photos of the flowers and beautiful plants used to lure people down there came from someplace other than Jonestown. She also claims that, when she planned her escape, “I ran for blocks in order to get a phone call back over to the States to my family.” As everyone who was asked to comment on this assertion verified, there were no phones in Jonestown, and buildings weren’t laid out in block grids.
Date of transcription: 3/15/79
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 #38. This tape was found to contain the following:
Side A: KGO Radio Broadcast of RON OWENS interviewing former People’s Temple member MARVIN SWEENEY (phonetic). After the interview of SWEENEY he was terminated, several former member of the People’s Temple called RON OWENS to express their opinions of the People’s Temple.
Nothing was contained thereon which was considered to be of evidentiary nature or beneficial to the investigation of Congressman RYAN.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted May 2013