By the beginning of 1979, Peoples Temple was dead. Jonestown was empty, other than the presence of the Guyana Defence Force which guarded it against additional looting; the church as a corporate entity had declared bankruptcy, and its assets and properties were in receivership; and with the exception of a dozen former Temple members left in Guyana – either imprisoned or wrapping up Temple affairs at Lamaha Gardens – all the survivors had returned to the United States.
While the nation’s attention drifted towards other issues in the news – and while life returned to normal for everyone else – the surviving members of Peoples Temple, both those returning from Guyana and those dispossessed from their former lives in California, had to learn how to survive on their own.
The articles below reveal how former members survived that first year, even if – for some – that first year lasted for several decades.
The editors of the jonestown report are indebted to Laura Johnston Kohl for collecting and editing the stories in this special section.
1. Coming Out Of The Peoples Temple Closet, by Laura Johnston Kohl
2. The Coldest Day Of My Life, by Herbert Newell
3. How Bobby Survived and Returned, by Judy McAbee
4. What I Still Carry With Me, by Don Beck
5. Surviving My Survival, by Tim Carter
6. The Carter Name, by Mike Carter
7. A Time To Heal, by Hattie Newell
8. Sharing the PT Story, by Jordan Vilchez
9. Surprise! I’m Alive and Look What I’m Doing Now, by Tommy Washington
10. Coming Out a Second Time, by Garrett Lambrev
11. Living in Rome, by Jim Randolph