Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
FBI Catalogue: Unidentified Individuals Speaking
Date cues on tape: Late May 1978 (Several references to travels to Jonestown early in the month)
Forbes Burnham, Guyana prime minister (by reference)
Vibert Mingo, Guyana minister of home affairs
George Hunter, publisher of Ukiah Daily Journal
Kathy Hunter, wife of George Hunter
People Temple relatives, supporters
Charles Garry, Temple attorney (speaks)
Vivian Davis, first name unknown, relative of Temple members
Barbara Moore, mother of Carolyn Layton and Ann Elizabeth Moore (speaks)
John Moore, father of Carolyn Layton and Ann Elizabeth Moore (speaks)
Vicky Prokes, sister of Temple member Mike Prokes
Mrs. Prokes, first name unknown, mother of Mike Prokes
Peoples Temple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives:
Tim Stoen, leader of Concerned Relatives
Peoples Temple members:
Jean Brown (speaks)
Daughter of Mrs. Davis, probably Cynthia Marie Davis
Carolyn Layton (by reference)
Jim McElvane (speaks)
Ann Elizabeth Moore (by reference)
Kay Nelson (by reference)
Jim Jon (Kimo) Prokes (by reference)
Larry Schacht (by reference)
Guy Young (speaks)
Bible verses cited: None
(Editor’s note: Although the transcribers and reviewers of these tapes struggle for neutrality in use of descriptions and choices of verbs and adjectives, personal considerations may get in the way of that objectivity at times. This may be one of them: the first half of the press conference features a lengthy report by John and Barbara Moore, the parents-in-law of this website’s editor, Fielding McGehee.)
This tape consists of a press conference called by Charles Garry, the principal attorney for Peoples Temple in San Francisco, to present the perspectives of relatives of Jonestown residents who are sympathetic to the project in Guyana. The main speakers – John and Barbara Moore, the parents of Temple members Carolyn Layton and Ann Elizabeth Moore, and the grandparents of Jim Jon (Kimo) Prokes – have recently returned from a week in Guyana, including several days in Jonestown (John Moore’s report of the couple’s trip to Jonestown, is here). Other relatives are in attendance, but don’t speak to any great extent during the formal question-and-answer session. Several Temple members also speak, especially during the second half of the tape.
The press conference takes place in May 1978, a time of great turmoil for Peoples Temple. Although most of the Jonestown residents had migrated from the U.S. more than six months before, the Concerned Relatives – an organization of defectors, former members, and relatives of current Temple residents – remains persistent in its criticisms against the group, and has presented a list of grievances against the Temple the previous month. At the time of the conference, many Bay Area reporters are still following up on the charges leveled by these Temple antagonists. The organization is also circulating reports of Jonestown residents being held against their will, information which may have been based upon the observations of a private detective who spied on the community (and whose presence was discovered). Whatever the source of the reports, the allegations form the basis of many of the reporters’ questions during the press conference.
Coincidental to the timing of the press conference – at least according to Charles Garry – a woman named Kathy Hunter, an old ally of the Temple and the wife of the newspaper publisher in Ukiah, has run into unexpected and seemingly inexplicable problems with the Guyanese government in her efforts to get to Jonestown, and is stuck in Georgetown. Much of the second half of the press conference focuses on Hunter’s mysterious and unresolved presence in Georgetown.
John and Barbara Moore, who have just returned from Jonestown, open the press conference by offering their impressions of the project to a half dozen reporters. Their experience has been positive. As John says in his opening remarks, “the two words that come to my mind … immediately while I was there and as I tried to reflect on my experiences were ‘impressive’ and ‘amazing.’” They speak about the project’s facilities, ranging from the medical clinic to the farm, from the library to the nursery. They also talk about the people they met and the “feeling of freedom” they encountered among the residents.
The reporters seem less interested in the details about Jonestown’s chickery and piggery than they are about the Moores’ responses to the charges that have been recently leveled against theTemple. Even before John has completed his prepared statement, a reporter asks if he ever got “any impression that anybody was being kept there against their will” and, a short time later, whether “any … people there wanted to leave the Temple, any of them having any intentions of coming back to San Francisco.” The questions linger on how much – and what kind of – access the Moores had to the people of Jonestown, what their meetings with Temple leader Jim Jones were like, and how the Temple planned to defend itself against accusations made in the U.S.
The reporters also ask the parents whether they are “concerned” about their daughters. Both parents affirm their daughters’ decision to join the Temple and to go to Jonestown. “I would rather they would be closer to me,” Barbara says, “but I think my reaction was that of anyone whose children have moved a long distance. I would be just as lonely at times as if they had moved to France or England.” John addresses the issue later by reminding the reporters that his daughters are adults and can make responsible decisions. “And as they made their choices about their lives, we have supported them in the choices which they made.”
The exchange turns somewhat testy when the press asks the Moores why they went to Guyana. Barbara replies that they wanted to see their daughters and grandson, as any parent would. When a reporter asks whether the Temple paid for their trip, Barbara answers sharply: “Definitely not. No, we went on our own. This was a vacation.”
By the end of the Moores’ presentation, the questions have shifted in tone and become more conciliatory. One reporter asks Barbara to follow up on her description of Jonestown as a “utopian community,” and another asks them to speculate on why so many negative stories seem to be arising from the Temple, if their experiences were so positive. John addresses the last point by saying that the press is in the job to sell newspapers, and bad news sells better than good. “That’s my bias,” he concludes.
Questions about Kathy Hunter fill the second half of the conference, although Charles Garry insists that he did not call the reporters in order to pre-empt any negative stories Hunter might have upon her return. The questions are more disjointed, the answers more cautious, but that is likely due to the fact that details of Hunter’s whereabouts, and her purposes for being in Guyanaat all, are unknown. Garry alludes to, and then makes direct reference to, an alcohol problem that Mrs. Hunter’s husband told him about, but doesn’t pursue the issue. Of greater concern, according to the Temple, was Mrs. Hunter’s assertion that she had been invited by the Guyana prime minister, an assertion which the government has denied. In the climate of accusations and counter-accusations – one Temple member says the opposition has interjected “an element of terror” into the situation – the replies to reporters’ questions seem guarded and cautious.
Date of transcription: 6/21/79
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 June 10, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B102-C18. This tape was found to contain the following: A recording of a press conference where the speakers tell the press how impressive Jonestown was and how the people have a happy way of life.
Differences with FBI Summary:
Aside from the fact that the participants in the press conference identify themselves several times – thereby making the placement of the tape in the “Unidentified Individuals Speaking” category somewhat inaccurate – the summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Note: This tape was transcribed by Michael Bellefountaine. The editors gratefully acknowledge his invaluable assistance.
Tape originally posted April 2004