Serial 1681-10

[Editor’s note: This FD-302 interview with Beverly Oliver also appears as part 3 of Serial 1217. The earlier version of the interview had unique deletions, which released in Serial 1681 and designated by blue type].

[In addition, Serial 1217-3 has a separate one page interview with Mrs. Oliver which was not included at 1681-10.]

[This section of Serial 1681 covers page 70-77 of the FBI Report of January 12, 1979.]

FD-302

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Date of transcription 12/7/78

Mrs. Beverly E. Oliver, who resides at 2040 O’Farrell Street, Apartment 108, San Francisco, California, telephone number 563-7798, was interviewed at the Roosevelt Roads Naval Hospital where she was hospitalized after receiving gunshot wounds to both feet during the incident at Jonestown, Guyana.

Mrs. Oliver stated that she is a former member of the People’s Temple which was headed by Reverend Jim Jones and which is located at 1859 Gery [Geary] Boulevard, San Francisco, California. She has known Jones since she first entered into the People’s Temple approximately five years ago. She was a member of the Temple for approximately three years and in the summer of 1976 she was informed by Jones’ attorney, Charles Garry, that the Church did not want her to remain a member. At that time she had been questioning some of the operational procedures on the part of Jones. Also in July, 1977, she began to make inquiries concerning [Released in 1681-10] her two sons who went to Guyana in 1977 for a “two-week tour and never returned.” She stated that her two sons Bruce and William Oliver, ages twenty and eighteen respectively, left for Guyana in July, 1977, and in August, 1977, when they did not return, she and her husband, Howard, being concerned, made inquiries to Jones’ wife Marceline, whose nickname is Marcy.

During their conversations with Marcy Jones, she indicated that the boys, referring to Mrs. Oliver’s sons, if they wanted to leave and to return they could any time they wanted. However, Marcy Jones indicated to the Olivers that they should leave the two boys alone. With this remark, Mr. and Mrs. Oliver talked with her attorney, [name deleted] and indicated they needed his help as they wanted to get their two sons back. Holmes therefore obtained a habeas corpus from the local court in San Francisco since one of her sons, William, at that time was not of legal age when he left for Guyana. Mr. Oliver had to give him permission to go. She pointed out at this point in a Pan-American airline ticket was purchased and sent to Guyana for their return but this was to no avail.

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Mrs. Oliver further advised that from the time her two sons left for Guyana, they continually sent letters to their sons. They did not receive any acknowledgments to the letters until right before they left for Jonestown, Guyana, during this recent trip. In these letters, the boys stated how much they loved their mother and father and when the time was right they would return “but not yet.” Mrs. Oliver mentioned at this point that they had made a trip to Guyana in the fall of 1977, and after waiting nine days without seeing their sons, they returned to the United States.

The above-mentioned habeas corpus, according to Mrs. Oliver, was obtained in December 1977, ordering the return of her sons. During their attempt to get their sons home, they received little, if any, cooperation from the Guyanese Government. They were instructed to send airplane tickets to Guyana which they did but the boys still did not return.

By this time a group of Concerned Relatives had formed and was made up of former members of the People’s Temple who still have relatives within the Jones group. A few weeks ago, the group made arrangements to travel to Guyana with Congressman Leo Ryan, who was going there to investigate the conditions at the Jonestown camp. Some of the people that went to Guyana included Congressman Ryan, his secretary, Jackie [Speier], Mr. Steve Katsaris, his son Anthony Katsaris, James Cobb, a former member from San Francisco, an NBC-TV news members, several newspaper reporters including Tim Reitterman [Reiterman], Charles Garry and Mark Lane, both attorneys for Jim Jones.

Mrs. Oliver noted that on Monday, November 13, 1978, the group left San Francisco en route to Georgetown, Guyana. They arrived at Georgetown on Tuesday, November 14, 1978, and subsequently those chosen to go to the Jonestown camp flew from Georgetown to Jonestown, Guyana, numbered possibly 15 or 16 people. They arrived by aircraft at the small airfield located near Jonestown in a place called Port Kaituma, Guyana. Their arrival was at approximately 4 PM, Friday, November 17, 1978.

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On the way to Port Kaituma airstrip from Georgetown, the group seemed very jovial and no one had any unusual or odd feelings during the flight. Mrs. Oliver pointed out that she was one of the four members from the Concerned Relatives Group that was chosen to fly to the camp and noted her husband, Howard, remained in Georgetown at the hotel. They arrived at the airstrip at Port Kaituma, however, Jones would not permit the group into the camp until his attorneys, Charles Garry and Mark Lane, arrived.

When the group initially arrived at the airstrip, which included Congressman Ryan and his assistant, nothing seemed to be unusual according to Mrs. Oliver. She saw no armed individuals and everyone, including the group and some of the members from the People’s Temple, seemed to be in a rather jovial mood. Later on that Friday evening at approximately between 5 and 6 PM, a truck from the People’s Temple picked them up at the airstrip and proceeded to the camp which might have been approximately 3 to 4 miles away. When they arrived at the camp, there were a lot of people singing, dancing, mostly youngsters which numbered approximately nine hundred to a thousand, including adults. She noted that everyone was glad to see her and she shook hands with almost everyone since she knew them from the days that she was involved in the San Francisco area Temple. Her two sons were there and she immediately wanted to talk with them. She asked them if they could go for a walk and talk and their older son Bruce said yes, however, they could not go too far from the camp. She talked with her sons and she asked them why they had not written in such a long time. She told them that she had written several times and asked if they had received the letters. They stated they received letters from various friends but not from her and Mr. Oliver. During the conversation, her son stated that he had been told that she was working for the Central Intelligence Agency and therefore he had to stop communicating with her since he was informed that she and the rest of the non-Temple members were out to kill all of them.

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She also advised that she saw her younger son, William, and his wife and young child, names of which she could not recall. During the entire evening spent at the camp everything seemed all right and nothing appeared to be unusual.

Later that Friday evening, approximately midnight, everyone except Congressman Ryan, Charles Garry, and Mark Lane, had to leave the camp. The rest of the group was transported by truck back to a guesthouse in Port Kaituma as they were not allowed to stay at the camp overnight. In regards to the camp, Mrs. Oliver stated that the camp was very nice considering that it was located in the middle of a jungle.

The following day, Saturday, November 18, 1978, Jim Jones sent the truck back to Port Kaituma to pick up those group members that returned the night before. The truck picked Mrs. Oliver and the rest of the group up and they arrived at the camp at approximately 9 AM. At that time she noticed that some of the children were watching a children’s show on television. The group was served breakfast and they stayed at the camp for approximately two to two and a half hours.

At around 11:30 or 12 o’clock, Jones said that everyone had to leave so everyone got onto the truck except for Congressman Ryan. They waited for him prior to leaving and while they were waiting they heard that Congressman Ryan had been attacked by one of the members of the Temple, however, he was not injured. One man from the NBC TV news team stated that they were all leave together and no one would be left behind. Thereafter, everyone got on the truck, even those who wanted to defect from Jones’ group
and go back to the United States, who were at that time, living in the Jonestown camp. Mrs. Oliver pointed out that she received a note from one of Temple members prior to her leaving which stated “Keep your damn mouth shut.” She noted that one the Temple members handed the note to her prior to the group leaving on the truck.

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She noted that approximately 30 people were on the truck, including 16 people who wanted to return to the United States and members of the Concerned Relatives along with two or three of Jones’ followers. Among the people on the truck were Dale Parks and his family. Mrs. Oliver described Parks as a San Francisco associate minister of the Temple. She described him as a man in his late 30s, five feet four inches tall with black, graying hair and who have two scars on his face which looked like burn marks which she had not noticed there before. She also wanted to reiterate that accompanying the people on the truck were three of Jones’ followers.

Mrs. Oliver further advised that it was approximately 1 PM on Saturday, November 18, 1978, when the entire group arrived at the Port Kaituma airstrip after having left the Jonestown camp. The airplane had not arrived at the airstrip at this point and Congressman Ryan’s secretary, Jackie, was making a list of names of those people to board the plane. When the planes arrived, Dale Parks, as mentioned above, insisted that everyone get on the plane right away. He was very nervous and upset and he whispered to several of the Concerned Relatives Group that Larry Layton, who had said that he wanted to leave and go back to the United States was possibly high on drugs and Parks did not believe the Layton truly wanted to go. Parks insisted that Layton be searched. Mrs. Oliver described Layton as a white male in his early 20s, about 5 feet tall, 125 pounds, blondish hair which was curly and shoulder length. Layton was wearing an Army poncho with a white summer shirt and pants. At this point, while waiting in line to board the plane, Dale Parks insisted for everyone to hurry up and “move it.” He kept telling everyone to search Layton because “he will get on the plane and blow us up.” When he said this, one of the members of the Concerned Relatives Group, Jim Cobb, went over and slightly patted Layton down but apparently did not find anything.

Mrs. Oliver stated that in the meantime some of Jones’ followers numbering about four guys as best as she could recall, arrived in a tractor. Mrs. Oliver did not know when they arrived or if, in fact, they followed the

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truck from the camp all the way to the airstrip. She recognized one of the followers to be Ronnie James, who was sitting on the tractor. She described James as being a Negro male, approximately 22 years old, six feet tall, 185 pounds, slender build, black huge Afro, which was braided, and wearing a shirt and short pants. She recognized James as being a member of the San Francisco Church. She also noted that he lived on [address deleted] Street in San Francisco and his mother, [name deleted] still lives on [address deleted] Street [notice of paragraph describing Ronnie James’ mother heavily redacted].

Mrs. Oliver did not know exactly where his father, [name deleted] lives but she believes that his residence is somewhere in the Breezeview section of San Francisco. When Mrs. Oliver saw Ronnie James, she shook his hand and stated she had not seen him at the camp. To her, he appeared to be nervous and in a hurry. She also noticed Joe Wilson, whom she recognized and who also got off of the tractor. Of the individuals she saw in the tractor most she believed have relatives in San Francisco. They had all been Church members. Mrs. Oliver described Joe Wilson as follows: Negro, male, age as late 20s, five feel seven inches, weighing 140 to 150 pounds, hair, black; eyes, brown. He was wearing jeans and a dirty shirt.

After Mrs. Oliver boarded the plane, she heard bullets hit both sides of the plane and then she lay down on the floor of the larger aircraft. She felt pain in her both feet and realized she had been shot. In front of her, the mother of Dale Parks, was shot in the head and she saw her brains fly out and onto the floor. The shooting lasted approximately five to ten minutes. After the shooting stopped all able-bodied persons from the plane got off and tried to help the wounded that were lying on the ground in and around the vicinity of the airplane. She saw Congressman Ryan and several of the newspapermen lying underneath the plane, all of them appeared to be dead. Mrs. Oliver did not know who did the shooting. She also noted that by this

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time the tractor and truck were gone. Larry Layton, whom she does know, was on the other plane and she learned that Dale Parks took the gun from Layton and was going to shoot him but discovered the weapon to be empty. When some Guyanese officials did arrive, Parks told them that “This is one of the sons of the bitches that did the shooting. Please hold him. Put him in jail. I took his gun.” The Guyanese Government officials took Layton into custody. She pointed out at this point that all the people involved, both the attackers and members of the visiting group, were Americans.

Soon some Guyanese villagers in the area were visible but they offered no help to the wounded people. They did not want to become involved. Later, exact time Mrs. Oliver did not recall, some Guyanese militiamen came and did help the wounded. She, along with the other survivors, stayed near the airport all night, many of whom hid in the bushes so as not to be ambushed again. They all felt like the attackers would come back to kill the remainder of the survivors.

The next morning, which was Sunday, November 19, 1978, Guyanese Army troops in uniform, came in and guarded the survivors where they were staying. Some of the Guyanese people advised that they had never witnessed anything like the incident ever. Most commented it felt like something was wrong within the Jonestown camp and stayed away from that camp and did not mix with them except for business.

Mrs. Oliver then advised that she was subsequently flown back to Georgetown and then placed on board a United States military aircraft and flown to Roosevelt Roads Naval Hospital, Puerto Rico.

At this point, Mrs. Oliver was asked if she could recall some of the people in the Jonestown camp that she talked to and she furnished the names of Georgia (last name unknown), Tony (last name unknown), Donna (last name unknown), Poncho (last name unknown) [Garry Dartez Johnson], Yvonne Wilson, Mr. Ferris [Marshall Farris], Mr. Edwards, Jane Muchman {Mutschmann], Ava Cobb, and Maria Katsaris.

She concluded by furnishing a bit of information concerning why Jones established the Jonestown camp. She

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recalled that Jones established the camp because Guyana is a black runned socialist country with no violence. Jones was quoted as saying that people can sleep with the doors open and there are no drugs. He described Guyana as a good place for he and his followers to live. Mrs. Oliver described Jones as a very egotistical person who wanted his own little world with him on the throne. He wanted the men and boys to work and the women to have babies. He didn’t want people to come in and see how people were treated nor did he want people to leave. If people did not do what he wanted them to, he would discipline them very severely.

Mrs. Oliver furnished her description and also that of her husband, Howard, which is as follows:

Mrs. Oliver:
Race: Negro
Sex: Female
Date of Birth: November 23, 1930
Place of Birth: Atlanta, Georgia
Height: 5’7″
Weight: 180 pounds
Hair: Black
Eyes: Brown
Social Security
Account number: 256-38-2049

Mr. Howard Oliver:
Race: Negro
Sex: Male
Date of Birth: February 5, 1931
Place of Birth: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 200 pounds
Hair: Black
Eyes: Brown

[Interview 2]

FD-302

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Date of transcription 12/7/78

Mrs. Beverly Oliver, patient, Roosevelt Roads Naval Hospital, along with [line of text deleted, likely related to her husband], reviewed a videotape furnished by the NBC Television Network concerning the incident involving the assassination of Congressman Leo Ryan in Guyana. The following is a list of those persons that were identified during the viewing of this videotape:

Johnny Brown Jones,
Jim McAlvane [McElvane]
Mike Prokes
Jim Cobb and family
Bill Parks and family

[Half line deleted], when reviewing the tape and when noticing the lip and tongue movements of Jim Jones, stated that this could be due to the use of her tranquilizer known as Phenothiazine.

It was noted during the interview and dual viewing by both individuals that still pictures will be made and furnished to these two individuals for appropriate identification purposes.

Originally posted on October 30th, 2017.

Last modified on September 13th, 2019.
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