Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
Tape Number Q 775
FBI Catalogue Unidentified Individuals Speaking
FBI preliminary tape identification note: One Maxell C-90/ “Marcie, Linda 11/5/73, Words & (illegible)”
Date cues on tape: Discussion on tape consistent with label
Lester Kinsolving, newspaper columnist, Temple antagonist
Members of Peoples Temple
Linda Amos (speaks)
Jim Jones, Jr.
Marceline Jones (speaks)
Temple adversaries and defectors:
Laura [may be Kerns or Swaney]
Clara Phillips (speaks)
Linda Swaney (speaks)
Local citizens of Ukiah, full name unknown:
Bible verses cited: None
(Note: This tape was transcribed by Seriina Covarrubias. The editors gratefully acknowledge her invaluable assistance.)
In this tape, two women from Peoples Temple – Jim Jones’ wife Marceline, and Temple loyalist Linda Amos (who would eventually change her name to Sharon Amos) – meet with two former members of the Temple, including one, Linda Swaney, who has just recently left. The purpose of the meeting is to persuade Linda Swaney to return, but the woman who comes away most affected by the conversation – judging from tones of voice and other audio cues – is Marceline Jones herself.
Marceline and Linda Amos secretly tape the meeting. The reason for deciding to make the tape is unclear, and the reason for keeping the tape afterwards is even more mysterious, since the strongest voice in it is one expressing defiance and independence of Jim Jones.
Amos tries to convince Swaney to return by reminding the defector of the Temple’s good works, all the people Jim Jones has saved from Death Row, all the protections the Temple leader offers to his followers, all the evils in the nation which the Temple stands against. The language Amos uses is that of the loyalist, the words that Jones himself might have used in a sermon, the same “manipulation” (to use Swaney’s word) that she has made a conscious decision to leave. Amos’ frustration – which shows in both shrill and petulant tones – is that Swaney cannot see what is so obvious to her.
Marceline’s approach is different. She asks questions of Swaney – why the woman left, how she can reconcile what she has done with things that she said while she was in the group – and her own frustration (at least, at the beginning of the tape) is that she says she cannot believe the answers Swaney is giving her. The two women had had numerous conversations over the years, and Marceline cannot accept that Swaney was now so completely rejecting the views she once held, that “everything you told me was a lie. I don’t believe that Linda Swaney could keep her true self from me all the hours we traveled between San Francisco and LA. I don’t believe it.” It is a sentiment she expresses as many as a dozen times.
But Swaney is firm in her resolve. “I did, though, Marcie, I did,” she replies. “I kept my true self from everyone for a long time.” When Amos interjects, “that seems so hypocritical to me,” Swaney answers her as well: “Okay, I’m a hypocrite.”
Swaney’s disaffection is one that does not respond to logic or cogent argument. She holds the same allegiance the cause to which the Temple is dedicated – and agrees it’s worth giving your life to – and she would have stayed, as she says early in the tape, if she “really felt that there was a cause left, [but] you know, I don’t think there is.. [T]here’s no accomplishment in the movement.” Later, she speaks to the issue more directly: “I don’t think that I lost faith a cause or a vision, but I think that I mainly lost faith in Jim, and he is the cause.”
The depth of the disaffection becomes apparent a few minutes later. Marceline tries to calm an increasingly-heated exchange among the four women by taking another tack, appealing to Swaney’s maternal instincts. “I want to assure you – and I know – that Jim loves your children. And you know that to hurt a child would be the last thing in the world that he would do, or any of this. Don’t you know that?”
“My children were hurt before they left here,” Swaney replies, and when Marceline pursues that, she continues, “the cause hurt them, because I dedicated myself so much, that I split myself from them.”
Whether Marceline and Linda Amos had any hope of persuading Linda Swaney to return is unclear – and Marceline at least eventually concedes they apparently will not be successful in that – but, as demonstrated by the fact that the subject comes up a half dozen times, they do want to be sure that Swaney will not speak against the church or ally herself with one of the more vocal critics from the Eight Revolutionaries. “You haven’t told anyone about any of the operations?” she asks. “Not anyone?” Swaney insists she has not, and Marceline accepts it.
Marceline does continue to defend her husband, especially as a tireless worker for black people, for socialism, against injustice – in other words, the cause – even as she recognizes his foibles. “I’ll say this much for Jim. He’s a socialist. He’s a socialist. He has no greater love for the few that happen to live in our house than the others [who live outside].”
The problem for Marceline – which becomes increasingly clear as the tapes draws to an end – is the evidence of Jim’s infidelities. When the subject comes up, and when it seems as if the others might shy from the subject in deference to Marceline, she assures them, “I don’t think that you’re gonna tell them anything I don’t know. I know Jim well enough. I know.” She finds out that she was mistaken.
Jim had sex with a young woman, the daughter of Clara Phillips. Linda Amos has the Temple version of the relationship – Janet Phillips was unstable, even suicidal, and Jones had sex with her to calm her down – but neither Clara Phillips nor Linda Swaney accepts that. “She hates herself for having sex with Jim Jones, and for having sex with him especially when you were around,” Swaney tells Marceline. “She loves you so much,” Janet’s mother continues, “and it hurt her as much to have sex with your husband as it would her own mother.”
Linda Amos denies the defectors’ account – “she was willing to kill herself. I remember she had a scissors” – and Marceline asks whether her husband wasn’t “trying build up her ego,” but Clara insists that Jim wouldn’t let her date anyone inside the church (“he said they’re homosexual”), and giving permission to date anyone outside the Temple was only a means “to get him in the group.” As the tape comes to a close, Marceline says in a small voice, “What? I don’t know.”
Marceline is also the only one who offers apologies to anyone.
Date of transcription: April 9, 1979
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 19, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B62 Number 92. This tape was found to contain the following:
Side one consists of a conversation between four women (JANET, CLAIRE or CLARA, LINDA and MARCI concerning defection from People’s Temple because of JIM JONES’s “manipulation” of children.
Side two consists of a conversation between a male and a female regartding [regarding] LINDA (LNU [Last Name Unknown]) who is possibly a Temple defector (this side is partially inaudible).
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 basically accurate and, to that degree, meets the FBI’s purposes. There are two women named Linda in the conversation – defector Linda Swaney and loyalist Linda Amos – although the subject of Clara’s daughter Janet comes up several times. In addition, Swaney speaks of Jones’ ability to manipulate people as among the reasons for her departure, and she also talks about the Temple’s effect of children, but she does not directly charge Jones with “‘manipulation’ of children.”
Tape originally posted May 2009