Timeline: And Then They Were Gone

by Judy Bebelaar and Ron Cabral

Before the book begins:

September 17, 1972: San Francisco Examiner, “The Prophet Who Raised The Dead,” byLester Kinsolving, is about Jones’s church in Ukiah, raises questions about the minister.

September 18, 1972: San Francisco Examiner, “Healing Prophet Hailed As God at San Francisco Revival,” by Lester Kinsolving.

September 19, 1972: San Francisco Examiner, “D.A. Officiates for Minor Bride,” by Lester Kinsolving.

September 20, 1972: San Francisco Examiner, “Probe Asked of Peoples Temple,” by Lester Kinsolving. Note: These Kinsolving articles critical of Peoples Temple and Jim Jones, were part of a series. Four other exposé articles never saw the light of day after hundreds of letters poured into the San Francisco Examiner praising Jones. See the unpublished articles by Kinsolving here.

January 9, 1974: San Francisco Examiner, “Nazis, Crowd, in Melee at School Board,” by Stephen Cook: “Kick them out …Make them get out now” is the caption below a photo of Yvonne Golden at the microphone. Violence erupts and the police arrive.

January 21, 1974: San Francisco Examiner, “Friends Rally to Aid Teacher Yvonne Golden,” by James Tiumak, includes a photo of Golden captioned “Black Activist teacher received a big boost at rally,” and another captioned ”Superintendent Thomas Shaheen rallied to Golden’s side.”

January 22, 1974: San Francisco Chronicle, Herb Caen’s column “Trip on a Tripewriter,” reports “Schoolteacher Yvonne Golden charged with inciting a riot after taking on those uniformed Nazis at a school board meeting, has a group of police in her corner, the entire Officers for Justice organization.”

January 25, 1974: San Francisco Chronicle, “School That Wants a Baseball Team” by Tim Gartner appears in the “Green Sheet” section, includes a photo of teachers Hal Abercrombie and Ron Cabral, who tried to start a team 3 years before the Cobras fielded one.

February 12, 1974: San Francisco Chronicle, “Angela Davis Condemns the Kidnap,” reports that “Angela Davis, an active Communist, yesterday condemned such terrorist actions as the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst by the SLA. Davis spoke at a conference called to offer support for Yvonne Golden, a teacher and counselor at Opportunity High School II, who was charged last month with inciting a riot at a Board of Education meeting attended by members of the American Nazi Party.”

February 18, 1974: San Francisco Examiner, “Rev. Williams Convinced Girl Will Be Freed,” by Carol Pogash, includes a photo of Golden, Reverend Cecil Williams and Dennis Banks. The “girl” is Patty Hearst. Taking turns in addressing Glide’s congregation were Williams, Yvonne Golden of the San Francisco Black Teachers’ Caucus and Dennis Banks of the American Indian Movement.

January 1975: The San Francisco Temple undergoes construction work as the crew prepares it to be the home for one hundred church members, including Jim Jones and his children. Dormitories are built on nearly every floor of the building (Mills, Jeannie, Six Years with God, 297).

March 23, 1975: Snack Sunday Concert at Kezar Stadium. Rock Czar Bill Graham sponsors a concert to raise money for the San Francisco Unified School District sports, art and music programs. “SNACK,” or Students Need Athletics, Culture and Kicks, raised over $200,000. Film star Marlon Brando presents the check to a school district employee. The concert line-up included Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, The Jerry Garcia Band, The Doobie Brothers, Jefferson Starship and Santana. Sport stars Jessie Owens, John Brodie, Frankie Albert and Willie Mays also appeared. Students from Opportunity’s Radio Production class interviewed Graham on KALW – 91.7FM about the show prior to the event (Cabral, Ron, Country Joe and Me, 157).

October 16, 1975: Jeannie and Al Mills and four of their children leave San Francisco Peoples Temple. Daughter Linda Mertle attends Opportunity II High (Mills, 11).

February 1976: Neva Sly, mother of Mark Sly, secretly leaves the Temple after having been beaten with a rubber hose during a catharsis session. The manager of KFRC radio in San Francisco helps her find housing after observing welts on her legs (Moore, Rebecca, Understanding Jonestown and Peoples Temple, 58).

February 1976: Julie Smith writes an article, “The Unusual Leader of an Unusually Active Church,” sympathetic to Peoples Temple, appears in the San Francisco Chronicle claiming the church has 20,000 members when actually there were never more than 3,000 (Mills, 45). Note: The Jonestown Institute puts the number at 5,000 which was the number of membership cards and/or photos for membership cards recovered after the deaths. The Institute has heard that 16,000 people attended Temple services – even if only once – over the course of its life.

July 1976: Grace Stoen, head counselor for the Temple, escapes with member Walter Jones (Moore, 62).

As the book begins:
September 1976: Approximately one hundred twenty teenagers from Peoples Temple enter Opportunity II High, an arrangement between Jim Jones and Yvonne Golden. The school is located in the old Motor Vehicle Department building on Plum Alley and South Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. A few doors down was the Original Mel’s Drive-In.

October 10, 1976: Jeannie and Al Mills legally change their name from Mertle. They write a statement of truth about the church, alleging that Temple members were coerced into signing confessions of wrongdoing. They also make other revelations about the church which were kept from the public (Mills, 16).

October 19, 1976: San Francisco Chronicle, Jim Jones is appointed to the San Francisco Housing Authority by Mayor George Moscone.

October 20, 1976: Jim Jones appears at Opportunity II High evening parent’ night/ Christmas program which includes Temple provided food and entertainment. Several Temple busses bring about 75 seniors and parents to the program. Yvonne Golden introduces Jim Jones who speaks and donates $200.00 to the school athletic fund. (Note: Audio is on page 2 and starts at 14 seconds.  The voices you hear are those of Yvonne Golden and Jim Jones.)

November 1976: Peoples Forum (Peoples Temple Newspaper), “Peoples Temple Protests for Fresno 4.” The article includes photos of Jim Jones with Governor Jerry Brown, Mayor George Moscone, Sheriff Richard Hongisto, and Vice-President Mondale.

December 1976: Linda Mertle leaves Opportunity II High.

January 17, 1977: San Francisco Chronicle, Jones honored with Martin Luther King, Jr. Award presented by Dr. Carlton Goodlett at a ceremony at Peoples Temple. Guests include Assemblyman Willie Brown, State Senator Milton Marks, and Mayor George Moscone.

February 1, 1977: Grace Stoen speaks with estranged husband Tim Stoen and says she wants their son to live with her in San Francisco, to get him away from Peoples Temple and Jonestown (Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs, Raven, 315).

February 8, 1977: Stephan Jones leaves Opportunity High.

February 15, 1977: Stephan Jones arrives in Guyana.

March 1977: Jim Jones collapses at S.F. Housing Authority meeting and leaves for Jonestown a few months later (Moore, 75).

Mid-February to late March 1977: Opportunity II High Cobras Preseason Baseball games take place.

First pre-season game O’Connell (2) v. Cobras (6) at Jackson Park
Second pre-season game Mission (1) v. Cobras (7) at Jackson Park
Third pre-season game Wilson (3) v. Cobras (12) at Jackson Park
Fourth pre-season game Washington (3) v. Cobras (4) at Jackson Park
Fifth pre-season game Lowell (1) v. Cobras (8) at Jackson Park
Sixth pre-season game Mission (2) v. Cobras (9) at Jackson Park
Seventh pre-season game Galileo (15) v. Cobras (15) at Jackson Park

March 23, 1977: San Francisco Progress,“Opportunity Knocks and AAA Officials Listen,”by Leo Pierini, gives the 6-0-1 pre-season record of the Opportunity II High Cobras and features Debbie Liatos as the first girl to play baseball in the San Francisco AAA League at the JV level.

March 25, 1977: First league baseball game Lincoln (10) v. Cobras (7) takes place at a park in the Sunset District near Lincoln High School, the first loss for the Cobras.

March 26, 1977: Marceline Jones comes to Opportunity II High and takes star pitcher Tim Tupper Jones out of school, saying his father needs him for church work in Guyana.

March 29, 1977: Marceline Jones arrives in Jonestown with Tim Tupper Jones, Lew Jones, and Lynetta Jones, the mother of Jim Jones.

Note: Although the Alternative Considerations of Jonestown website says Tim entered Guyana June 17th with his father we believe he also entered at this earlier date with his mother. Fielding McGehee agrees this was probably the case, as Jones would have wanted his sons in Jonestown prior to the arrival of large numbers of new immigrants.

April 1, 1977: Second league game: Lowell (9) v. Cobras (4) at Big Rec in Golden Gate Park.

April 4, 1977: Third league game: Wilson {16) v. Cobras (2) at Jackson Park.

April 5, 1977: Cornelius Truss enters Guyana.

April 15, 1977: Fourth League game: Balboa (12) v. Cobras (12) at Jackson Park.

April 17, 1977: Fifth League game: Galileo (16) v. Cobras (15) at Funston Field in the Marina District. Wesley Breidenbach pitches and then drops out of Opportunity after this game, his last.

April 18, 1977 Wesley Breidenbach leaves for Guyana.

April 22, 1977: Sixth League game: Washington (11) v. Cobras (5) at Big Rec in Golden Gate Park.

April 24, 1977: Seventh League game: O’Connell (6) v. Cobras (2) at
Jackson Park.

April 24, 1977: Wesley Breidenbach arrives in Guyana.

April 29, 1977: Eighth league game: Mission (7) v. Cobras (1) at Jackson Park.

May 1, 1977: San Francisco Progress: “Winless Cobras Exciting” reports the team was 0-7-1 at this point. Article describes the season and talks about some of the players.

May 6, 1977: Ninth League game: McAteer (5) v. Cobras (4) at Jackson Park.
(The Cobras went 0-8-1 for the season.)

May 29, 1977: Candace Cordell enters Guyana.

June 17, 1977: Jim Jones arrives in Jonestown with Jim Jones, Jr., Rita Tupper, John Cobb, Tim Jones and several Tupper siblings.

June 18, 1977: San Francisco Chronicle, Break-In at New West Magazine” reported.

June 20, 1977: Jeannie and Al Mills invite Marshall Kilduff and Phil Tracy to their home to reveal truths to the newsmen about Peoples Temple for a New West article to be published July 17, 1977 in the San Francisco Chronicle (Mills, 67).

July 17, 1977: San Francisco Chronicle-Examiner Magazine: The lead story is an exposé of “The Inner Workings of Peoples Temple” by Raul Ramirez, includes mention of Linda Mertle’s Ukiah beating. This article announces that the forthcoming Aug 1, 1977 New West Magazine story makes a strong case against Jones and the Temple and quotes ten former members regarding allegations of irregularities in the financing of charitable homes for children and the elderly. The article further alleges ”that church leaders staged phony cancer cures, lied to the congregation about contributions collected at services, routinely paddled members for minor infractions and pressured members to turn over their property, money and homes to the church.”

July 17, 1977: Don Sly and Mark Sly arrive in Guyana with Ricky Cordell, Sandra Yvette Cobb, Mona Cobb, Rita Cordell, Janet Tupper, Larry Tupper, Mary Tupper, and their mother Rita Tupper.

July 27, 1977: Billy Oliver, Ricky Johnson and Bruce Oliver arrive in Guyana with Shanda Michelle Oliver, Bruce’s wife.

July 27, 1977: San Francisco Chronicle, The headline reads “George Moscone says his office will not investigate Jones.” Herb Caen reports in his column that Jones has hired attorneys Charles Garry and Fred Furth for a possible libel suit.

July 29, 1977: San Francisco Progress: The neighborhood paper is the first to report an “exodus” of children and says Peoples Temple communes look empty (Mills, 68).

July 29, 1977: Monica Bagby arrives in Guyana.

August 1, 1977: New West Magazine feature story on Peoples Temple by Marshall Kilduff and Phil Tracy hits the newsstand.

August 3, 1977: San Francisco Progress: “Temple Dominated School” by E. Cahill Maloney is a front-page story claiming a Temple-school connection. School Area Superintendent Lane Delara states he knew nothing about any Temple-school connection. Principal of Record Ben Fonsworth is on vacation and can’t be reached. Teachers quoted include Ron Cabral, Ena Spakman, Yvonne Golden. Tim Carter and Marceline Jones appear in the story as well as Tim Tupper Jones and Linda Mertle. Article also mentioned Sharon Amos, listed as a school-Temple officer who applied for a private elementary school permit.

August 4, 1977: San Francisco Chronicle, “A Peoples Temple Block At San Francisco School”, by Marshall Kilduff, reports that a large block of Temple kids has enrolled as a group. The article points out that 13 Peoples Temple students had previously attended Drew Preparatory High School and indicates that Jones reneged on a tuition agreement of $4269 per student. The 13 students included Stephan Jones, Jim Jones, Jr., and Tim Tupper Jones. Those students dropped out during Christmas break and enrolled at George Washington High School. Drew Headmaster Robert Coyle declares he was pressured by the Temple to drop the tuition fees.

August 4, 1977: San Francisco Examiner, “Jones Quits Housing Board” and “Churchman Sends Message from Guyana” by Tim Reiterman and Don Cantor. “Jones says he is stepping down because his responsibilities to the church mission leave him little time for other work. The resignation comes at a time when the San Francisco District Attorney is looking into the Temple’s financial affairs. Mayor Moscone refuses to conduct an investigation requested by Supervisor Quentin Kopp. Moscone dismisses the New West article as a series of allegations with no hard evidence that Jones violated any laws.”

August 4, 1977: Cindy Cordell her brother James, mother Loretta Mae Cordell and father Harold Cordell arrive in Guyana.

August 6, 1977: Calvin Douglas, his sister Joyce, Rory Bargeman, his sister Terri, and Willie Thomas arrive in Guyana.

August 7, 1977: San Francisco Examiner, “Rev Jones the Power Broker” by Tim Reiterman and Nancy Dooley. Richard Tropp, a professor at Santa Rosa City College led Temple letter writing campaigns, the article reports. The article further reports that virtually every member of the church was required to write numerous letters sometimes more than 100 a week on all manner of issues. “They were told to use different pens, types of paper, different envelopes, to write small here, large there. They would use telephone books to make up names for these letters. Each letter writer got instructions on what tack to take in the letters. A Xeroxed list of sample comments would be provided as a guide. The letters were screened and mailed from different post offices and from different cities to disguise the origins.” Peoples Temple supported and worked for various candidates for office, including Fred Furth, Milton Marks, George Moscone, and Jimmy Carter. The Temple provided 150 election day workers for Moscone when he ran for Mayor.

August 10, 1977: Amondo Griffith and his brother Emmett Alexander Griffith, Jr. arrive in Guyana.

August 11, 1977: San Francisco Chronicle, “Peoples Temple Families Complain” by Marshall Kilduff reports “At least six family members have complained to the San Francisco District Attorney about the treatment and whereabouts of some dozen relatives who are members of Peoples Temple.” Jones is accused of beating his followers to maintain discipline, using fake healings to win new believers and convincing members to turn over large amounts of money and property to the church. Children of Peoples Temple members were sent overseas to the agricultural mission run by Jones in Guyana. Neva Sly claims that her son Mark was sent to Guyana against his will. She said she and Don Sly were asked to sign over guardianship of Mark to another Temple family.

August 11, 1977: San Francisco Progress: “Temple Faces Abduction Inquiry” At least two children reportedly have been shipped off to the Temples’ remote Guyana mission illegally.

August 11, 1977: Marilee Bogue enters Guyana.

August 12, 1977: San Francisco Progress:“ Schools Deny Preference For Temple Kids” by E. Cahill Maloney says that John Cleveland, Deputy Superintendent of San Francisco Schools, found no evidence of alleged irregularities in admissions and withdrawals of students connected to Peoples Temple after talking to Yvonne Golden, John Liu-Klein, Ena Spakman and Ron Cabral. Cleveland states, “There is no waiting list and they were admitted,” adding, “We do not ask children their religion.” Superintendent Robert Alioto has directed Cleveland to work with Protective Services to check on the welfare of students who vanished from the district.

August 12, 1977: San Francisco Chronicle, “Rev Jones and Disciples May Be Leaving” by Marshall Kilduff “More than 100 members of the controversial Peoples Temple reportedly left San Francisco in what may be the start of a mass exodus to its remote outpost in South America.” Kilduff reports Temple members have been ordered to sell off their possessions and move into communes. Jones has an agreement with Guyana to settle a 27,000 acre property near the village of Port Kaituma along the Northern border with Venezuela. Former Temple member Jessie Boyd said her friends in the church told her they are getting ready to leave for Guyana as soon as they get the call.

August 12, 1977: Lisa Lewis and her sister Karen Lewis arrive in Guyana.

August 14, 1977: San Francisco Sunday Examiner-Chronicle:The lead Story, “At the Temple It Was Hostile,” describes the Temple fleet traveling to various cities in a caravan of 11 busses with as many as 70 people crammed in to the 42-seat-busses. “Some were forced to ride in the overhead luggage racks and some in the unventilated baggage compartment beneath the bus.” There was pressure on members of the church planning commission to live communally in order to save money for food and other expenses and to turn all their income to the church.

August 14, 1977: San Francisco Examiner,The lead Story in bold black letters: “The Temple – A Nightmare World” by Tim Reiterman and Nancy Dooley, describes how members were required to turn over money, were sleep deprived, and had to attend long meetings at night as well as “catharsis sessions” in which Jones sat in judgment of so-called bad behavior that needed punishment. “Former members told the Examiner of their willingness to forfeit their lives for one man who proclaimed himself Jesus Christ reincarnated to his religious followers and Lenin reborn to his political devotees.”

August 14, 1977: San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle, in “Ex-Members Tell of Beatings,”
Deanna Mertle tells that she witnessed 300 beatings, and that the youngest victim was 4. The beatings were administered with a paddle – the “Board of Education” – a one-by-four-inch board, 2 ½ feet long. Some beatings were held in front of the congregation.

August 14, 1977: Teddy McMurry arrives in Guyana.

August 15, 1977: Newsweek carries a full-page article about Temple beatings and goes on to link Jim Jones to several local politicians. None speak out against Jones.

August 17, 1977: Judy and Patty Houston arrive in Guyana with their mother Phyllis Houston.

August 18, 1977: San Francisco Chronicle, Herb Caen points out in his column, “whereas Peoples Temple is 80% black, 90% of those making wild charges are white.”

August 20, 1977: San Francisco Chronicle, “Unnamed witness tells of punishments used by Jim Jones.”

August 22, 1977: Dorothy Buckley and her sisters Odesta and Frances Buckley, brother Chris Buckley, their mother Luna, Christopher Newell, Karl Newell and their mother, Hazel Newell, arrive in Guyana.

August 24, 1977: Tim Carter (staff member), who was Temple Counselor at Opportunity II High, arrives in Guyana.

August 28, 1977: San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Magazine:” This World” section article, “Jones and Peoples Temple Under Investigation” provides a detailed account of all the charges and allegations against Jones. The article mentions numerous bank accounts that the Temple had opened. Followers were expected to donate 40% of their income and to raise money doing street solicitations, and writing and mailing contribution requests. Real estate property holding of followers’ property are reportedly worth $5,000,000 dollars. Some Temple leaders were dispatched to carry $50,000 each to South America. 400 members reportedly left on Temple busses bound for Miami to catch flights to Guyana.

August 31, 1977: San Francisco Chronicle, “A 1.1 Million Dollar Suit against the Peoples Temple and its beleaguered leader, the Rev Jim Jones, was filed by two former members who claimed their daughter was beaten and their property sold off. The suit was filed by Al and Jeannie Mills, both members of the controversial church from 1970 to 1975.”

September 1977: Opportunity II High School moves to the Frederick Burke campus located behind San Francisco State University for the 1977- 1978 school year. A few Temple students still attend: Monica Bagby, Lisa Lewis, Sonja Regina Duncan, and possibly Stephanie Chacon among them. They all arrived in Guyana on March 15, 1978 and were the last of any Opportunity students we knew to go to Jonestown. Note: After Ron made several attempts to find out about students we believed were at Opportunity and went to Guyana, the San Francisco Unified School District has told us they cannot provide any information about Opportunity students from that time.

September 5, 1977: A “White Night” most likely occurs in Jonestown, followed by many “Peoples Rallies” warning danger from the outside, sometimes called in the middle of the night and some of which Rebecca Moore describes as the kind of “White Nights” in which people “truly thought they were in grave peril and faced certain death.” Then, she says, there were “ full-fledged” events that carried the possibility of “Revolutionary suicide,” about a “half dozen,” in 1978. At any rate fear is escalating at this time in Jonestown (Moore, 76, 77).

September 5, 1977   The so called “Six Day Siege” begins at the White Night. Jones convinces the residents of Jonestown that there has been a sniper attack on him and that an assault by “enemies is imminent.”  The community encircles the perimeter of the settlement, armed with pitchforks and machetes, for the next six nights (Reiterman and Jacobs, 360-361).

September 1977: Howard and Beverly Oliver, parents of former Opportunity student Billy Oliver, file a custody suit against Peoples Temple for Billy, who is not yet 18. The court allows him to stay with his older brother Bruce in Jonestown until Billy turns 18, when he chooses to stay in Guyana, even though his parents come to ask him to return with them to San Francisco. Tim and Grace Stoen also file for custody of their child John Victor, a minor whom Jim Jones claims is his son (Moore, 62).

September 3, 1977: Jim Jones learns of the September 6th court date for a hearing regarding Tim and Grace Stoen’s son John Victor. The Stoens’ attorney will argue that Guyana should honor a California order for the return of the boy to his parents (Reiterman & Jacobs, 360-361).

September 8, 1977: San Francisco Examiner, Jerry Brown says he was only “considering” appointing Jones to the State Board of Corrections.

September 9, 1977: San Francisco Examiner, Charles Gary reports that Jones was shot in Jonestown.

September 23, 1977: Eileen Kelly McMann -McMurry wife of Teddy McMurry; Diedre McMurry, sister of Teddy; and brother Sebastian McMurry arrive in Guyana.

October 1977: Peoples Forum: The headline of an article is “Conspiracy” and it claims that the church is being unfairly attacked.

October 7, 1977: Grace Stoen makes a public statement about trying to get her son back from Jonestown (Mills, 74).

November 13, 1977: Bob Houston’s parents speak out against the church, and, for the first time, of his untimely death (Mills, 77).

November 13, 1977: San Francisco Examiner, Tim Reiterman’s story, “The Life and Death of Bob Houston,” describes Houston’s death under suspicious circumstances, appears (Reiterman & Jacobs, 377-378).

November 10, 1977: Charles Garry tells the press, “I have been to Paradise,” meaning Jonestown (Mills, 77).

November 18, 1977: San Francisco Chronicle, Herb Caen reports Jim Jones stays in Guyana because John Victor, or John John, Stoen is his son (Mills, 77).

December 1977: Deborah Layton arrives in Guyana.

January 27, 1978: Edith Roller, a 62-year-old former college instructor, arrives in Guyana to head up the Temple School programs. She is a longtime member who has kept a journal in San Francisco, and continues to do so, at Jones’s request, in Guyana.

February 16, 1978: Larry Schacht, the Jonestown doctor who may have been not a competent, or even an actual doctor, is granted by the Guyanese Government a temporary, rather than permanent license to practice medicine, prompting a full-fledged White Night (Moore, 77).

February 16, 1978: At the above White Night, Jones states, “the political situation showed no signs of clearing up and that we had no alternative but revolutionary suicide.” Edith wrote in her journal, “He has already given instructions to make the necessary arrangements. All would be given a potion, juice combined with potent poison. After taking it, we would die in about 45 minutes. Those who were leaders and brave would take it last. He would be the last to die and would make sure all were dead. Then I heard Jim’s voice, quite quietly he was saying, ‘You didn’t take anything you only had punch.’”

February 19, 1978: Harvey Milk writes a letter to President Jimmy Carter on San Francisco Board of Supervisors letterhead praising Jones. Milk writes ”that Rev. Jim Jones is a man of the highest character who has undertaken constructive remedies for social problems.” The letter is supporting evidence for Jones in the John Victor Stoen custody case.

February 21, 1978: IRS notifies Peoples Temple of its examination of church’s political activity (Reiterman & Jacobs, 399).

March 15, 1978: Eugene Smith, husband of Opportunity student Ollie Smith, enters Guyana, as do Joyce Brown Polk and her aunt Lucy Crenshaw.

March 27, 1978: First league varsity baseball game and debut of first woman to play at the varsity level in San Francisco, perhaps nation-wide: Opportunity’s Cary McClellan. McAteer (21) v. Cobras (1) at Big Rec in Golden Gate Park.  Manny Blackwell is the only returning player from the 1977 junior varsity team.

March 31, 1978: Sonja Regina Duncan arrives in Guyana with her mother Verdella Duncan.

March 30, 1978: San Francisco Progress “AAA Baseball’s First Female Takes the Field” by Steve Cassals, reports that “Cary McClellan became the first girl in the history of the AAA to play in a varsity baseball game.”

April 3, 1978:  Second league varsity game score is Galileo (30) v. Cobras (0) at Silver Terrace.

April 10, 1978: Third league varsity game score is Lowell (28) v. Cobras (4) at Big Rec in Golden Gate Park.

April 11, 1978: 54 former Temple members, calling themselves the “Concerned Relatives,” sign a petition that lists human rights violations and deliver it to guards at Peoples Temple. Their demonstration is countered by one by Peoples Temple. Attorney Charles Garry denies that people in Jonestown don’t want anything to do with their relatives (Mills, 80 and Reiterman & Jacobs, 399). Accusation and supporting materials are here.

April 22, 1978: Fourth league varsity baseball game score is Balboa (30) v. Cobras (1) at Big Rec in Golden Gate Park.

April 24,, 1978: Fifth league varsity baseball game v. Mission (33) v. Cobras (1) at Big Rec in Golden Gate Park. Note:This is the final game for the Cobras as the coaches decided to forfeit the rest of the season because of the lack of competitive players, as most, except for Manny Blackwell, had gone to Guyana. Scrappy pitcher Hugh Dinneen threw a lot of long innings for the short-lived varsity Cobras.

May 1978: Deborah Layton flees Jonestown and holds a press conference in June saying conditions are deteriorating in Jonestown; Jones is becoming increasingly unstable. She fears the possibility of a mass suicide (Moore, 66). Note: Before leaving Guyana, she files an affidavit with the American Embassy in Georgetown.

May 13, 1978: Another “White Night” in Jonestown is reported by Edith Roller. “Revolutionary Suicide” is proposed by Jim Jones. Votes are taken and many vote to carry out the suicide that very night based on Jones’s advocacy.

June 15, 1978: San Francisco Chronicle, In “Grim Report from the Jungle,” by Marshall Kilduff, Deborah Layton, one month after fleeing Guyana, tells of armed guards and savage discipline. This article leads to her being contacted by Leo Ryan, who invites her to Washington, D.C. to testify before the State Department.

June 1978: Seven Opportunity II High teachers leave the school, some transferring to other district schools, some leaving for other places, other jobs: Hal Abercrombie, Judy Bebelaar, Ron Cabral, Tina Kolias, Irv Rothstein, Paula Cohen, Ena Spackman, and Fong Ha.

August 1978: Dr. Carlton Goodlett, Jones’s San Francisco physician, diagnosis: high fever, fungal disease in Jones’s lungs (Moore, 75). Note: After the deaths in Jonestown, Goodlett says he thinks Jones would have died by November 1978.

September 1978: Opportunity II High moves to Alamo Park and changes its name to Alamo Park High School. The name is eventually changed to Ida B. Wells High School (Wells still exists as of 2012).

October 2, 1978: Jim Jones, Jr. marries Yvette Muldrow in Georgetown.

Mid-October 1978: At a White Night, Former Opportunity High student Billy Oliver and teenager Shanda James stand up to state their willingness to die (as many others have, a required behavior). Shanda had been punished by being placed in “Extended Care,” and drugged (Moore, 74, 78).

October 30, 1978: The parents of Marceline Jones, the Baldwins, enter Jonestown for a visit (Reiterman 467-70).

November 1, 1978: Congressman Leo Ryan writes Jim Jones in Guyana about a planned visit to Jonestown and asks for his cooperation (Stephenson, Denise, Dear People: Remembering Jonestown, 107). Note: Copy of the telegram available at:
http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/?page_id=13922

November 6, 1978: The 14-man Jonestown basketball team, cheered on, sincerely and, according to Reiterman, in some cases with tears by the entire community, departs from Port Kaituma aboard the Cudjoe, a 72-foot Temple-owned trawler, for Georgetown to play in a tournament against the Guyana National team (Sports Illustrated, Dec 24, 2007). Note: (Reiterman reports team departure as November 7, 1978).

November 7, 1978: Jones reports to the settlement that Congressman Ryan is coming to Guyana (Moore, 89).

November 7, 1978: The new American Consul, Douglas Ellice, Jr. arrives for his first visit to Jonestown (Reiterman, 460).

November 9, 1978: 600 Jonestown residents sign a “resolution of community” that they do not wish to see Congressman Ryan, Journalists or any of the Concerned Relatives (Moore, 90). Note: Larry Layton’s signature on this petition would prove to be the evidence the government needed in his second trial to convict him of conspiracy to kill a congressman.

November 12, 1978: The first basketball game between the Jonestown team and the Guyanese National Team takes place. Jonestown loses by 30 points. Members of the team are Stephan Jones, Tim Jones, Jim Jones Junior, Johnny Cobb, Calvin Douglas Williams, Mark Cordell, Walter Williams, Carl Barnett, Burrell Wilson, Cleveland Newell, Herbert Newell, Preston Wade, Lee Ingram (coach), and Mike Touchette (trainer) (Sports Illustrated, Dec 24, 2007).

November 13, 1978: Ryan meets with Deborah Layton and other Concerned Relatives and State Department officials to “review charges of mistreatment of Jonestown residents.” The next day the delegation leaves for Guyana (Moore, 90).

November 14, 1978: Jim Jones calls Georgetown and orders Stephan and the team to come back to Jonestown. Stephan and the team defy Jones, sure they can do better the next game, and refuse to come back (Sports Illustrated, Dec 24, 2007).

November 14-15, 1978: U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan and party arrive in Georgetown, Guyana for the purpose of a Congressional investigation in the activities of the Peoples Temple and Jim Jones (FBI File HQ 80-4286, series 24, 40 and 41, Jan 12, 1979).

http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/24.pdf
http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/40.pdf
http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/41.pdf

November 16, 1978: Mark Lane and Charles Garry, Peoples Temple attorneys, arrive in Georgetown, as do the Concerned Relatives.

November 17, 1978:  Game two of the Georgetown tournament takes place. This time the Jonestown team loses by only 10 points.

November 17, 1978: Ryan and party leave Georgetown, Guyana airport for Jonestown aboard a chartered aircraft at 2 pm. The group includes Ryan, aide Jackie Speier, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U. S. Embassy Richard Dwyer, Neville Annibourne of the Guyana Ministry of Information, Temple lawyers Mark Lane and Charles Garry, eleven reporters, and four representatives of the Concerned Relatives (Moore, 92).

November 18, 1978: Ryan and his party arrive in Jonestown. A celebration with food and live music is held at “the pavilion.” Ryan speaks and is given a standing ovation. That evening a note is passed to reporter Don Harris saying that Vern Gosney and Opportunity student Monica Bagby want to leave with Ryan.

November 18, 1978:  The next day, several more residents approach the congressional party and say they want to leave, 16 in all. As the defectors prepare to leave for the airport, Congressman Ryan is attacked by Don Sly, who brandishes a knife. Ryan is upset, but is not injured seriously, and he boards a truck for transportation to the Kaituma airport (Witness to Jonestown: MSNBC Documentary 2008).

November 18, 1978: Tim Reiterman describes his time on the back of a truck heading for the airport with Larry Layton and Wesley Breidenbach, “who had stayed close to Jones in the final hour or two of our visit….This bushy haired, handsome man in his early twenties, a former pitcher at Opportunity High was a thin six feet one, but his rubber raincoat broke over something at the back of his waistband. When he bent forward to look around I tried to brush it with my hand to see if it was a gun. But he straightened up… Breidenbach, though very likable, betrayed a nervousness that kept me uneasy” (Reiterman, 521). Note: Breidenbach was 19.

November 18, 1978: Later in the day a tractor-trailer arrives at the Kaituma airstrip carrying several Temple members with rifles. They begin firing at the party waiting to board. Witnesses and film identify the shooters, among them former Opportunity High student Wesley Breidenbach (FBI document 89-4286-1681, located at http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/24.pdf).

Others listed as “airport shooters” by the FBI are Ronnie Dennis 16, (FBI document 89- 4286-1557, located at http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/21.pdf); Stanley Gieg, 19, who may have attended Opportunity High (FBI document (89-4286-1552, located at http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/21.pdf); Eddie Crenshaw, 23 (FBI document 89-4286-1681); Ronald James, 23 (FBI document 89-4286-1552); Ernest Jones, 56 (FBI 89- 4286-1552); Robert E. Kice, 30 (FBI document 89-4286-1207, located at: http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/15.pdf); Thomas D. Kice, Sr. 43, (FBI document 89-4286-1207/1552); Lawrence [Laurence] (Larry) John Layton 32, (FBI 89-4286-1681); Ronald W. Talley, 33 (FBI document 89-4286-1207); Albert A. Touchette 24, (FBI document 89-428-1552); and John L. Wilson, 24 (FBI document 89-4286-1207/1552).

Congressman Leo Ryan, NBC newsman Don Harris, NBC cameraman Bob Brown, and San Francisco Examiner photographer Greg Robinson reporters are shot and killed at the Kaituma Airstrip., as was Temple member Patty Parks, where two planes waited to take those who were leaving. Note: The Jonestown Institute compiled the Jonestown Security list of all members of the Security team. This includes all members of the Jonestown Archery team and those who “practiced with weapons” and includes the airport shooters named above. Just before he was shot and killed, Bob Brown NBC camera operator, filmed a few seconds of the airstrip shooters which have been shown on Witness to Jonestown MSNBC Documentary (2008) and that same footage has been used in several other documentaries. Several of the shooters were identified from that historic film.

Others in Ryan’s party wounded by gunfire are Tim Reiterman, Bob Flick, Steve Sung, Jackie Speier and Monica Bagby, who left with her friend Vern Gosney, on the plane that was still able to fly.

November 18, 1978: Still later in the day “Larry Layton is arrested at Port Kaituma and held for the murder of Leo Ryan. In Georgetown, Charles Beikman, a longtime Temple member, is arrested at Lamaha Gardens and held for the murder of Sharon Amos and her three children. At a preliminary hearing in Georgetown, Stephan [declares] to an astonished courtroom that he is guilty of the deaths…Although Stephan was speaking in solidarity with Beikman, and may have been expressing his own feelings of guilt for not stopping the deaths that had occurred, the prosecutor takes him seriously. Stephan spends three months in jail before he is released for lack of evidence. Beikman is not released until two years later” (Moore, 107).

November 18, 1978:  Still later “The Guyanese government ordered troops to fly to Jonestown after learning of Ryan’s death. At the isolated settlement, the troops find hundreds of bodies. It takes days to count all the dead. About one third of the 909 at the site are under 18.” (SFGate: Moscone-Jonestown Timeline, 2008).

November 20, 1978: San Francisco Examiner Article features a team photo of the 1977 Opportunity High Cobras baseball team and the headline: “8 Dead, 2 Missing from This Team, a Hard Thing for the Coach to Grasp.” Dead are Teddy McMurry, Amondo Griffith, Mark Sly, Ricky Johnson, Wesley Briedenbach, Billy Oliver, Christopher Newell, and Stanley Wright. Survivors include Tim Jones, Johnny Cobb, Jim Junior and Calvin Douglas.

November 21, 1978: Secretary of State Cyrus Vance proposes burying the victims in a mass grave in Guyana. “When officials in Guyana balked at the proposal, it became clear that American soldiers would bag the remains and ship them to Dover Air Force base in Delaware. On November 27, the work is finished” (Moore 105, 106).

November 23, 1978: San Francisco Progress: “San Francisco Peoples Temple Carter – Former Opportunity II High Counselor” by E. Cahill Maloney is about Tim Carter’s role at Opportunity II. Carter was the Temple Counselor who kept tabs on the Peoples Temple students at Opportunity. “The school district issues a memo saying the investigations Cleveland conducted were inadequate for any reliable conclusions on the allegations made against Opportunity II High.”

November 24, 1978: San Francisco Examiner, “One of the First Guyana Victims” by Annie Nakao The article is about Teacher Gloria Davis and one of her students from Dudley Stone Elementary School and says incorrectly that Jim Jones Junior was the star pitcher of the Opportunity High baseball team. Nakao describes Yvonne Golden refusing to comment about Jones’s influence on the school. When asked if any Peoples Temple kids were still enrolled Golden stated, “Kids aren’t registered by their memberships, but by their home addresses.”

November 27, 1978: “Former Supervisor Dan White takes his gun and climbs through a basement window at San Francisco City Hall. He goes to Mayor George Moscone’s office and shoots him several times killing him; then he finds Supervisor Harvey Milk and kills him in the same manner. White turns himself in and later is convicted of voluntary manslaughter. He serves five years.” (This was reported on the 30th anniversary of the deaths in Jonestown in the San Francisco Chronicle.)

December 1, 1978: A coroner’s jury hears the report of Dr. Leslie Mootoo, Guyana’s Chief Pathologist who “did rough autopsies in the field on at least seventy persons and found injection marks in their shoulders. He also observed numerous syringes without needles, indicating that the poison had been squirted into people’s mouths. He concluded that 700 hundred had died unwillingly, which meant that only 200 had died voluntarily. Nevertheless, the jury’s initial verdict was that all 909 had committed suicide. But when the presiding magistrate remonstrated, the jurors changed the verdict and determined that all but three people – Ann Moore, Maria Katsaris and Don Sly – were murdered.”

Since only seven formal autopsies were performed, it was impossible to determine the extent of coercion that occurred during the mass deaths. “The US government sought the autopsy for Jim Jones. Families requested autopsies of Laurence Schacht, Maria Katsaris, Carolyn Layton and Ann Moore. Only two decedents, Richard Castillo and Violet Dillard were chosen at random from the remaining 904 victims. The other bodies where routinely embalmed at Dover Air Force Base and the potential for any meaningful toxicological or physiological evidence was destroyed. Clearly Jim Jones and Ann Moore had been shot and their deaths were consistent with suicide. But the findings for the others listed the cause of death as “undetermined” (Moore, 106).

December 1978: Survivors are repatriated to the United States “encountering hostility from many sides, including some airline pilots who refused certain survivors on board. The majority of survivors coming from Guyana were flown to New York Kennedy Airport where they were greeted by FBI interrogators who questioned them for as long as fourteen hours in small trailers on the tarmac (Moore, 135).

December 6, 1978: San Francisco Progress: “Cabral Baseball Coach” Sports In Progress “Ron Cabral has been named Varsity baseball coach at Woodrow Wilson High School, where Stephan and Tim Jones come to visit him at a practice in 1979.

December 17, 1978: San Francisco Progress:“They Wouldn’t Have Stood in Line” by Steve Cassal: Cassal says that Jim Jones had a son on the Opportunity High baseball team and that the minister appeared at the school a few times. The article reports that Billy Oliver’s parents had gone to Jonestown to try and get Billy and his brother Bruce out. The article includes information about Amondo Griffith coming to Opportunity from Mission High and how as a Cobra he hit a home run against his former team. Cassal also quotes Neva Sly saying her son Mark Sly was brought to Guyana against his will.

December 19, 1978: San Francisco Chronicle, Herb Caen’s “Moving Finger” column. Lists Tim Jones, Marceline Jones, Wesley Breidenbach, Amondo Griffith, Billy Oliver, Mark Sly as having gone to Guyana. Caen mentions that all those he listed died in Guyana except for Tim Jones.

December 20, 1978: San Francisco Examiner, “Baseball Players Who Started Out As Champs Only to Die in Guyana” by Alan Cline “The 1977 Opportunity High baseball team started off like world champs. Under rookie coach Ron Cabral, the Cobras went undefeated in preseason play, beating good teams like Mission, Lowell, Wilson and O’Connell. Second baseman Amondo Griffith hit a ton. Even though the team never won a game in the SF AAA League play Amondo ended the season with a .533 average. Pitcher Wesley Breidenbach was another good hitter at .363 along with Billy Oliver at .312. Mark Sly was a speedster stealing 6 bases. To him baseball was not the most important thing – it was everything. The four players were among the dead. When additional names are made public the coach fears he’ll find others.”
“They were well behaved players and we had a heck of a good time,” the coach said. Cabral said a few players participated in a radio interview with Mike Sadek a San Francisco Giants catcher and “the group talked about the game for an hour.” We shocked the hell out of everybody when we won the six pre-season games, the coach recalled. Although the team failed to win even one league game it really wasn’t a shutout. The game with Balboa ended in a 12 to 12 tie. They were good competitors. But when the season ended they all went to Guyana. “

1979: Jeannie Mills book Six Years with God: Life Inside Reverend Jim Jones’s Peoples Temple is published by A and W Publishers. Married to Al Mills, Linda Mertle’s  father, Jeannie was the step-mother of Linda, her sister and brother as well as mother to two other children. From 1970 to October 1975, she and her husband were committed members. Jeannie headed the Temple publications office, and Al was the Temple photographer. By late 1975, they had enough of Jones who they said used “fear, guilt, and extreme fatigue to coerce behavior.” The Mills had signed over all their property, as well as signing false and incriminating statements.

The book contains an excellent collection of photos taken by Al Mills. Soon after the book was published, both Jeannie and Al were found murdered in their Berkeley home. Their daughter, Dauphine, died of wounds later. The case has never been solved.

November 18, 1979: First memorial service for the 917 victims of Jonestown (Jim Jones is excluded) is held at Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland, California. Buck Kamphausen, director, donated a plot where 400 bodies are buried. The rest were claimed by relatives, or given space at other cemeteries in the area.

January 1982: Tim Reiterman’s and John Jacobs’ book Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People is published by E.P. Dutton, is the most detailed and exhaustively researched book of the more than 60 books that have been written about Jim Jones and Peoples Temple.

November, 1993:  “The Orphans of Jonestown,” New Yorker Magazine by Lawrence Wright, is a vivid account about life in Jonestown based on interviews with the three surviving Jones brothers, Stephan, Tim, and Jim Jones, Jr.

November 14-27, 1994: Baseball America Magazine, “Anecdotes “ by Bill Weiss, looks back on the Cobras during the anniversary week of the tragedy. The article mentions Amondo Griffith, Tim Jones, Mark Sly, Wesley Breidenbach, Henry Flood, Billy Oliver, Leo Ryan, Jackie Speier, and The Jonestown Basketball team. Note: This article came out during the Major League baseball strike of 1994.

1998: Deborah Layton’s book Seductive Poison: A Jonestown Survivor’s story of Life and Death in the Peoples Temple is published by Anchor Books. “Layton vividly describes her initial intense involvement with Jim Jones’s Peoples Temple and her eventual risky escape from a promised utopia which she said, ‘turned into a concentration camp.’ She escaped Jonestown in May 1978 and later met with Leo Ryan in Washington, DC (from the book’s cover).”

1998-1999: The Jonestown Institute website Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple comes on line. It started originally when Rebecca Moore was on the staff of the University of North Dakota. Rebecca and her husband, Fielding McGehee moved to San Diego when Rebecca joined the Department of Religious Studies at San Diego State University. McGehee is the web master for the most comprehensive web site on the subject of Jonestown and the Peoples Temple, and is an important source for this book.

February 2005: Denice Stephenson’s book, Dear People: Remembering Jonestown is published by Heyday Press and is based on the Peoples Temple papers archived at the California Historical Society in San Francisco. Stephenson served as a special project archivist for the Peoples Temple collection from 2000 to 2006 at the California Historical Society. She encouraged us when we first started the book project and provided much-needed support at the California Historical Society Library.

2006: Jonestown: Life and Death of Peoples Temple a critically acclaimed Documentary by Stanley Nelson is released in Theaters and on Television.

December 9, 2006: San Francisco Chronicle, Obituary: Yvonne Golden dies in Florida at the age of 80. After retiring from the San Francisco Unified School District, Golden returned to her hometown of Daytona Beach, Florida, where she became mayor. She died while still in office.

2007:  Jonestown: Paradise Lost a Television documentary directed by Tim Wolochatiuk is released and shown around the world.

November 18, 2007: Dr. Jynona Norwood, who lost many of her relatives in Jonestown announces plans for a “Cherish the Children Jonestown Memorial Healing Wall,” with the names of the 917 who died, excluding that of Jim Jones, to be inscribed on a marble wall, including those of 303 children in a pink marble heart at the center.

December 24, 2007: Sports Illustrated Magazine: “Escape From Jonestown” by Gary Smith covers the Jonestown basketball team in November 1978 and records events around the time of the tournament against the Guyana national team in Georgetown. As it turned out Basketball saved the players’ lives.

January 2008: Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People by Tim Reiterman and John Jacobs is published in paperback, A Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin Book, originally published in hardcover in 1982.

November 18, 2008: The first of four sections of a memorial wall planned by Jynona Norwood who led memorial services for years are finally unveiled at the 30th Anniversary Memorial service at Evergreen Cemetery Oakland, California. Rev. Amos Brown of San Francisco gives the invocation.

2008: Witness to Jonestown, an MSNBC Television Documentary, directed  by Stephen Stept is released to a world wide audience.

January 2009: Understanding Jonestown and Peoples Temple by Rebecca Moore published by Praeger of Westport, CT. Rebecca Moore is the chair of the Religious Studies Department San Diego State University. Her book is a valuable account of life and conditions in Jonestown. Rebecca lost 3 family members in Jonestown.

November 2009: MSNBC Documentary Witness to Jonestown is shown around the world on MSNBC. This film joins the growing list of documentaries made on the subject of Jonestown over the past few years. This documentary is not available for sale at this time. Other videos include Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple (PBS) and Jonestown Paradise Lost (The History Channel).

2010: Laura Johnston Kohl’s book Jonestown Survivor: An Insider’s Look is published by I-Universe. Kohl joined Peoples Temple in 1970 living and working in the progressive religious movement both in California and Guyana. A fluke saved her from the mass murders and suicides on November 18, 1978 when 913 of her beloved friends died in Jonestown. Kohl spent much of her time in Guyana working for the Temple in Georgetown and was there when the tragedy took place.

November 2010: Jim Jones, Jr. and other survivors announce plans for a second memorial at Oakland’s Evergreen Cemetery. The memorial planned by Jynona Norwood remains unfinished and only partially funded. The marble segments are too heavy for the hillside covering the graves. The new memorial was dedicated on May 29, 2011 and includes the name of Jim Jones.

October 2011: A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception and Survival at Jonestown by Julia Scheeres is published by Free Press a division of Simon and Schuster. The book follows the lives of five Peoples Temple members who went to Jonestown and gives insight into the lives of those people, young and old, black and white.

Originally posted on July 25th, 2013.

Last modified on June 26th, 2021.
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