The November 19th Tape

Jim Jones PaintingA tape designated by the FBI as Q 875 was found along with the hundreds of others at Jonestown. There was apparently nothing special about the location of the tape, or any differences in appearance to distinguish it from the others, or anything else. It was just there. As opposed to all the other tapes, though, this is the only tape made after the deaths.

Q 875 consists of four broadcast news stories recorded off the air on November 19, 1978, all concerning the deaths of Congressman Leo Ryan and members of his party “last night” at the Port Kaituma airstrip in Guyana. Two of the broadcasts are of Guyanese origin, and two are American, including an ABC broadcast. The first newscast includes “unconfirmed reports reaching Georgetown” of mass suicide at Jonestown. Later broadcasts said that Temple attorneys Charles Garry and Mark Lane are safe, although at the time there was still “nothing [confirmed] about reports of mass suicide in the commune.”

The MP3 of the tape appears here and can be reviewed in conjunction with the transcript and summary of the tape. A supplement to the transcript by Josef Dieckman appears here.

Because this is the only tape from Jonestown which was made after the deaths, it has been the subject of much interest and discussion. The editors of this site wrote a commentary about Q 875 in 2002, raising what we believed were the fundamental questions about it, and over the years, a number of people have offered their own perspectives. Those articles appear below. In our view, perhaps the most compelling explanation to date was offered in 2008 by Joel Thomas, but certainly we welcome additional commentary by anyone interested in challenging this interpretation and presenting new ones.

An Enigma Within a Conundrum, by Tim Carter (2004)

Closing in on Q875?, by Josef Dieckman (2004)

Shredding the Suspect List on Q 875, by Matthew Thomas Farrell (2004)

Tape Made After Arrival of GDF, by Jim Hougan (2004)

Q 875 Made by Outsiders, by Laura Johnston Kohl (2004)

Q 875 Makes Case for Murder, by Roger Stacy (2004)

Imagination and History: Tape Q875 and the Day after the Jonestown Mass Murders/Suicides, by Catherine Wessinger (2004)

Reviving and Revising Q875, by Josef Dieckman (2005)

Jonestown, the CIA and the Mystery Tape, by David Parker Wise (2005)

A problem that just won’t go away, by Josef Dieckman (2007)

The Mystery Of the Post-Mortem Cassette: Who? Where? Why?, by Jason Schwechter (2008)

The Man Behind the Curtain, by Marlon Linek (2008)

The “No More Mystery” Tape, by Joel Thomas (2008)