Former San Francisco District Attorney Joseph Freitas died of lung cancer in April. While Freitas was best known for his unsuccessful prosecution of Dan White for the murders of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk – an event which also rocked San Francisco in November 1978 – the D.A. was also criticized for his inability to uncover any criminal activities by Jim Jones during Peoples Temple’s years in San Francisco. Critics also questioned Freitas’ judgment in hiring then-Temple loyalist Tim Stoen as an assistant district attorney. Freitas defended himself by noting that the state attorney general had investigated his decision to hire Stoen and had found no irregularities. In addition, two days after the deaths in Jonestown, Freitas announced that his office had in fact conducted a six-week investigation into the Temple the previous year – interviewing more than 70 people in the process – and had discovered nothing.
Mr. Freitas’ obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle appears here.
Garrett Scott, a documentarian who was developing a film about Peoples Temple in San Francisco, died of a heart attack in March. An appreciation of Mr. Scott appears here.
In addition, we learned this year of other deaths from previous years.
Julius Evans, who survived the deaths in Jonestown by leaving the community with his family and a handful of other residents early on the morning of November 18, died in 2004.
Joe Holsinger, an aide to Congressman Leo Ryan who charged that the CIA made a conscious decision to allow the events in Jonestown to occur, in part to avoid disclosure of agency activities in Guyana and in part because the congressman involved was a co-author of the Hughes-Ryan Act limited the CIA’s ability to spy on Americans, died in 2003 or 2004. We will furnish the exact date when we learn it.
Desmond Hoyte, who served as Guyana’s Minister of Development in Forbes Burnham’s government during the life of Jonestown – and whom the Jonestown leadership considered as an antagonist to their cause – died in December 2002. Information about his life and other tributes may be found here.