[Editor’s note: One of the subjects of this serial whose name is deleted is San Francisco Chronicle reporter Ron Javers. The deleted information from the memorandum – designated by brackets – which is known to the editor has been indicated by red type.]
[This section of Serial 1681 covers pages 375-385 of the FBI Report of January 12, 1979.]
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Date of transcription 11/30/78
[Name and address of Ron Javers deleted], San Francisco, California, was interviewed on November 19, 1978 at the Malcolm Grow Medical Center, Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, while awaiting medical evaluation and treatment. [Javers], a white male, born [date and place deleted] had just flown to Andrews Air Force Base from Guyana, South America, having arrived only a short time previous. [Javers] advised he is employed as a [information on occupation as reporter for San Francisco Chronicle deleted], San Francisco, California, telephone [numbers deleted] and he has been so employed since January 22, 1978. The first knowledge he had of his assignment to travel to Guyana was on Thursday afternoon, November 9, 1978, when he was assigned to travel there by [name deleted]. He said this came about on the assumption of [name deleted, likely Javers] that [name deleted] [Marshall Kilduff], who has written a number of stories about the Peoples Temple, would not be permitted to make the trip. He explained that the [words deleted] had just learned at that time of a trip planned by Congressman Leo J. Ryan from California to travel with a party to Guyana.
He was to cover Ryan’s trip to Guyana and to see Jonestown if possible. He flew from San Francisco to New York, where he met Congressman Ryan and his party, and they departed New York about 3:30 PM on Monday, November 13, 1978. Congressman Ryan was representing the House International Relations Committee to check on conditions in Jonestown. He recalled that also present on this airplane flight from New York to Guyana were eight other media people in addition to himself, as well as Congressman Ryan and his Administrative Assistant K. Jacqueline Speiers [Speier]. In addition, Jim Schollart [Schollaert] of the House Committee Staff was also present. They flew to Trinidad and subsequently to Georgetown, Guyana arriving there Tuesday night, November 14, 1978, about midnight.
All of the members of the media, except himself, were permitted to enter the country, but he was not as he did not have the proper journalist permit. The appropriate formal request was made at the US Embassy and [Javers] was delayed approximately 12 hours at the Immigration Office
at the Timheri Airport in Georgetown until the matter of his permit could be resolved. Subsequently, his permit was received and he was permitted to enter Guyana for five days.
[Javers] stated that Congressman Ryan had been negotiating for an invitation to Jonestown, but that he was given a list of conditions which would have to be met in order to visit there. These conditions included that Attorney Mark Lane be present, that members of the Black Caucus be present and that the Reverend Jim Jones would choose the members of the press to go there. Congressman Ryan, however, did not agree to these conditions. Subsequently, Congressman Ryan reached an agreement with Attorneys Mark Lane and Charles Garry, who is the attorney for the Peoples Temple, permitting them to travel to Jonestown. [Javers] stated there was a logistics problem involved due to the planes and the landing strip available.
A group of people calling themselves Concerned Relatives, totaling 13, were interested in accompanying Congressman Ryan to Jonestown. This group of people consisted of individuals who have been in the Peoples Temple, were temple dropouts or were people with relatives in Jonestown.
[Javers] understood that the press media paid a part of the cost of the plane trip, the Concerned Relatives paid a portion and Congressman Ryan also paid a portion of the expenses for the plane to fly to Jonestown. The plane was an 18 seater and present on the flight were Attorneys Lane and Garry, four members of the Concerned Relatives group only as the entire group was too large to take and it was decided these four would represent their group, and a number of the media, including himself, [several names deleted], as well as Congressman Ryan and his Administrative Aide, K. Jacqueline Speiers [Speier].
[Javers] stated that Congressman Ryan had said that he was not prejudging anything and had an open mind concerning his visit to Jonestown and was representing constituents
from his district in California in view of the interest of people there in the Peoples Temple and their concern for friends and/or relatives.
Their plane left the Georgetown Airport and arrived at Port Kaituma in the late evening of Friday, November 17, 1978. They then proceeded via truck or a land rover into Jonestown, which is about six miles away, which six miles consisted of deep, red mud.
A sergeant Rudder, a local Guyanese constable, and his deputy met them at Port Kaituma. Rudder said that he had instructions that only Sharon Amos could proceed to Jonestown, however, Amos was back at Georgetown and not a member of the party. [Javers] described Sharon Amos as being a current member and leader of 50 to 60 people living in a house in Georgetown where supplies were received by the Peoples Temple and subsequently forwarded to the Peoples Temple in Jonestown. Attorneys Lane and Garry could not understand Rudder’s orders and some members of the Peoples Temple, about five or six, arrived on a red tractor. They entered into negotiations and subsequently, agreed that Lane and Garry could go on in first and negotiate for the Congressman. They walked to a nearby telephone or transmitter and after an apparent conversation, came back and said that the entire party could travel to Jonestown. Lane, Garry and Congressman Ryan were among the occupants of the first truck to travel into Jonestown, along with the other people [Javers] believed to be temple people. The truck then returned for the press and the four people representing the Concerned Relatives group.
Congressman Ryan had been there approximately 20 to 30 minutes when [Javers]’s group arrived there. They went to a central location, which place was an open air meeting place with a corrugated tin roof, a stage and seats. They were welcomed and served iced tea. The people were very hospitable, although [Javers] later stated he had heard that this had been staged for their benefit. They were told that the people there wanted to entertain them and they had dinner and entertainment, which consisted of singers and a rock band. [Javers] said that the NBC personnel filmed this. The entertainment ended about 11:00 PM that night. [Javers] said the room was charged with emotion. Congressman
Ryan gave a speech explaining that he was an impartial observer there and elaborated along this line, that it appeared that some people were happier there than ever before. There was great cheering, however, [Javers] said he again later heard that the people had been instructed to do this. When the time came to leave, there were no accommodations there, but a cottage was obtained for Congressman Ryan, Attorneys Lane and Garry and possibly Speiers, with the remainder of the people renting the home of a person where they spent the night.
The following day, Saturday, [Javers] stated that things were doubly tense. Congressman Ryan was interviewing people in Jonestown privately, some of whose names had been given to him by members of the Concerned Relatives group. The previous evening, Don Harris of NBC had received a note from a young man with three names on it, which note asked for help in getting these people out of Jonestown.
[Javers] separated from Congressman Ryan as he wanted to see parts of Jonestown for himself. After a conference with Attorneys Lane and Garry, an agreement was reached that the media could roam around the grounds. He was subsequently refused entry into the “Jane Pittman House” on the basis they wanted to protect the privacy of the people inside who were elderly. He said he believed the actual reason was because the women occupants of the home were packed in “like sardines” and that there were 65 people stacked in beds there. He noted there was an allegation of funding of the Peoples Temple through Social Security checks of the elderly, such as the people there. One of the leaders of the Peoples Temple went into the Pittman House and requested permission for them to enter, which was granted. As they went inside, however, many of the women inside left. [Javers] did talk to several women and all of them said they liked it there.
[Javers] continued his tour of the grounds and the people preparing to leave started reporting to the central assembly area. When he returned there, he saw some women with Congressman Ryan who wanted to leave. He noted in particular that the Parks family was present with Congressman Ryan and wanted to leave. Other people then joined Congressman
Ryan and this group. [Javers] stated the time to leave had arrived as the airplane in which they were to depart was arriving at a certain time. The press got into the first truck which was leaving. He said that some of the media were going to film Congressman Ryan as they were leaving. Congressman Ryan was remaining behind to stay with and give protection to members of the Peoples Temple who had expressed an interest in leaving with Ryan, but who could not get onto the first truck due to it being crowded. Attorneys Lane and Garry were remaining at Jonestown and not traveling to the airport.
[Javers] stated that he had interviewed the Reverend Jim Jones and Jones said he had always permitted people to leave who wanted to, but that if people did try to leave, he would say “Father has failed his people”. He tried to talk women out of leaving when they expressed an interest to leave. One of the women involved in this was Edith Parks of the Parks family. [Javers] said at this time, everyone was embracing one another and everything was on friendly terms.
The truck on which [Javers] and the other media and other individuals were riding proceeded about 100 yards before it became stuck in the mud. He then heard a loud cheer, saw a commotion and people running. About five to ten minutes later, Attorney Lane came up the path to the truck hustling Congressman Ryan with him. Congressman Ryan’s shirt was pulled up to his waist and there was blood on the left side of the shirt, however, it was later learned it was not the blood of Congressman Ryan.
Congressman Ryan got into the truck and said someone had thrust a knife at him. The truck then traveled to the airport, but the plane on which they were to depart had not yet arrived. Congressman Ryan and the others sat down in a little shed and Congressman Ryan told them what had happened to him back at Jonestown. He said a young white male had lunged at him with a knife, that he had fallen back and that Mark Lane, who had been his opponent in this matter, had saved his life, as he had wrestled the knife wielder to the ground. The knife wielder was cut during this attack and it was apparently his blood that was on Congressman Ryan’s shirt.
[Javers] recalled also that before the truck in which
he was riding pulled away from Jonestown to drive to the airport, a Negro male got onto the truck and clung to the side of it staring at him. A female temple member inside the truck identified this individual as being Joe Wilson. [Javers] related that Wilson’s wife and child had left Jonestown earlier that date trying to make their way to Port Kaituma. Wilson rode all the way out to the airstrip on this truck with them.
[Javers] estimated there were possibly 32 people milling around in the area by the airport waiting for the planes to take them away from there. He said the truck on which he and other members of the press and others had traveled to the airport must have returned and brought back a second group of people. Bob Brown of NBC was filming the activities there. [Javers] said they were receiving many hostile looks and that the members of the press gathered together. The two airplanes had landed during this period of time. One plane was a small, single engine plane with a capacity of about four to five people.
[Javers] was standing by the larger plane, an Otter. He later learned that a Larry Layton, who was one of the last people to get on the first truck including [Javers] and the media as it pulled away, had gotten onto the small engine plane. He explained that when Layton got onto their truck that the Temple People who were riding on the truck and leaving Jonestown, crowded together and away from Layton and said not to let him on, that he was a traitor and would hurt them. As result, while in the truck, he, [Javers] started interviewing Larry Layton, who was very nervous. [Javers] said the temple people were adamant that Layton should not be permitted to go with them and that they were afraid of him.
At the airport, Congressman Ryan, Dick Dwyer, Deputy Chief of Missions of the US Embassy at Guyana and others were frisking people to make certain they did not have firearms before boarding the airplanes. Larry Layton, whom he described as pale and “hyper” said he had to get on the first plane, referring to the smaller plane. Ryan was on one side of the small plane and Layton apparently went to the other side and climbed into the plane.
[Javers] observed what he described as a truck and a tractor with the truck partially concealing the tractor, drive over to the area where they were congregated. This was during the period of time that they were still milling around and frisking people.
Subsequently, approximately three to five males came walking over swiftly from the direction of the truck and tractor and Joe Wilson was one of them. [Javers] was then standing beside the larger airplane preparing to board it. [Javers] then saw several people coming at him armed with rifles. He was then standing by the steps leading to the center door of the airplane. Bob Brown, the NBC cameraman, was nearby filling this sequence of events. Firing commenced and [Javers] felt a bullet strike him [location of wound, later revealed to be in the shoulder]. He fell to the ground and moved behind the airplane for protection as did Bob Brown. He was trying to take cover behind the airplane tire and he heard additional shots. He said the shooting possibly lasted five minutes or less. [Javers] who was then flat on the ground looked behind him. He saw Don Harris of NBC trying to get behind the tire of the plane, as was Congressman Ryan. He heard later another individual was also trying to get behind the plane tire for protection. He saw an individual come around the side of the airplane. He saw Bob Brown lying on the ground and believed he was hit, but not dead as his body was moving some. He also saw Don Harris on the ground with his body moving and believed him to still be alive. An unknown individual then came up and placed his rifle by the head of Don Harris and fired, administering what he called the “coup de grace”. Either this same individual or another individual did the same thing to Bob Brown, both of whom were on the ground.
[Javers], who was then possibly 10 to 15 yards away and who had been trying to make up his mind as to whether to play dead or run for it, then decided to run. He got up and ran across the airplane field into a tropical rain forest area. He ran into this dense undergrowth as far as he could. He had a camera bag, which he dropped on the runway and he dropped his Nikkon [Nikon] camera in the swampy area as he went into it.
[Javers] said he knew that he had been shot in the [shoulder] and that he had lost [line deleted] in his camera bag. He saw a pasture, which he proceeded through, and subsequently, he made his way around the perimeter of the airport. He then saw people and recognized among them [name deleted, likely Tim Reiterman] who is quite tall and stands out in a crowd. He went over to them. He said this was possibly 4:30 PM.
He observed that the larger twin engine Otter plane was disabled as the tires had been shot out. The small plane managed to take off and he was told that it had one passenger, a female temple dropout member. He was not certain as to when the small plane took off, but understood it summoned help.
He observed Congressman Ryan’s body as well as the bodies of Harris, Brown, Greg Robinson, San Francisco Examiner photographer, and the body of a woman [Patty Parks] beside the plane. He said he could not see who shot Congressman Ryan or even himself.
[Javers] stated that he believed that the individual who shot Don Harris was a young black male, possibly a teenager or in his 20s and perhaps a little taller than [Javers] and about the same build. [Javers] said he is [height deleted] tall and weighs [deleted] pounds. He said it all happened so fast that he cannot be positive that the individual who shot him was a black male, however, he believed him to be.
[Javers] subsequently heard from several people there, including one of the dropouts, possibly Dale Parks, that Larry Layton got into the small airplane while Congressman Ryan was standing beside it, at which time the truck and tractor containing the men who did the shooting were proceeding toward them. Layton had, or was handed, a revolver and started shooting. He said he might have been handed the revolver through the window, but he also had a satchel with him which had not been checked, to his knowledge, for weapons due to their inexperience in such things. The revolver was a six cylinder and [Javers] understood that Layton apparently shot five times as there were five empty chambers when the revolver was recovered following the shooting. He said
that he suggested to Dwyer that since he was a government official that Dwyer should take custody of this revolver and he did. Layton was detained by other Guyanese civilian males. It was also told by he believed Dale Parks that Parks, after Layton started shooting at the people in the small plane, had wrestled Layton for the revolver and they fell out of the plane, that Parks pointed the revolver at Layton and it either misfired or was empty when he tried to shoot Layton.
[Javers] described Layton as a white male, age 25 to 30, 5’6″ to 5’7″, 140 to 150 pounds, with short curly hair and “spacey” looking.
[Javers] stated that he had heard nothing to indicate any type of conspiracy to assassinate Congressman Ryan or any other government official. He noted that he had no knowledge of the Peoples Temple and its activities prior to receiving this assignment as previously stated. Later, while in Jonestown, he heard from dropouts there that Jones was preaching that the media or Congressman Ryan had guns and were coming there to get them. He said he did not then understand what this actually meant. He knew the conditions were tense following their arrival and at the time of their departure, but knew nothing as far as any plans to commit violence on the part of the Reverend Jones or members of his temple.
[Javers] noted that he had made notes concerning his trip to Guyana and Jonestown and he recorded later in his notes following the shooting of Congressman Ryan and the other members of his party, the names of the individuals responsible for the shooting as furnished to him by different dropout members from the temple that he interviewed. All of this information is recorded in his notes and he gave his notebook to [several names deleted] who came to the hospital. He said he had called in a portion of his story to his newspaper prior to being removed to the Emergency Room for examination and that [Javers] retained his notes in order to continue the story he was dictating as to what transpired at the airport.
At the approximate conclusion of this interview, [name deleted] entered the hospital room where [Javers] had been placed as a patient. [Next four lines heavily redacted]
Following receipt of this information, the interview was terminated in order for [Javers] to rest as he still had the bullet in his shoulder and the doctors and not determined when such would be removed from his shoulder.
On November 20, 1978, [Javers] was recontacted in his room at the Malcolm Grow Medical Center by SA [names deleted]. He advised at that time he had already told SA [name deleted] the names of the individuals responsible for the shooting. He said these individuals were as follows:
1. Tom Kice
2. Albert Touchette
3. Joe Wilson
4. Larry Layton
He also advised that a Stanley Gieg was the driver of the tractor or truck which brought the individuals to the airport who did the shooting, although Gieg himself was not identified to [Javers] as being one of the individuals doing the shooting.
[Javers] advised that Kice may be a middle age white male with a crew cut and a rough, hatchet type face, whom he saw at Jonestown, but he is not certain concerning this as the individuals who gave them the information that Kice was involved in the shooting did not furnish his race to him. He understood that Kice was seen shooting a handgun, possibly a .45 automatic, and was one of those on the truck or tractor.
Concerning Albert Touchette, he did not know this individual’s race, but heard that he had some kind of a rifle and was firing at people.
Concerning Joe Wilson, [Javers] noted that this individual he had previously discussed with SA [Name deleted] and Wilson is a Negro male, age 21 to 23 with short cornrows and people said he did participate in the shooting, further details unknown.
Concerning Larry Layton, previously described, [Javers] stated that Dale Parks said Layton shot one of the Parks’ daughters on the plane.
[Javers] said he compiled this information identifying the above individuals as being involved in the shooting from the Dale and Edith Parks family, Jim Bogue and family, except for one daughter, who chose to remain in Guyana and from Harold Cordell, who has been a member of the Peoples Temple for 25 years and was former head of the temple security in California. Cordell went to Guyana about 8 to 12 months previous when the Jones group did, however, he fell into disfavor with Jones and had decided to leave and was attempting to leave and was at the airport at the time of the shooting.
[Javers] said that the shooting actually commenced about 4:15 PM on Saturday, November 18, 1978 and that the shooting sounded like pops or small arms fire primarily to him. He did not know where Jackie Speiers was during the shooting. He recalled that when their plane evacuating the wounded departed Guyana that some of the more seriously wounded got off the plane at San Juan. Included among those people was Anthony Katsaris, Concerned Relative member who was shot up, as was his father, Steve Katsaris.
Beverly Oliver, a Negro female, age about 47, and a member of the Concerned Relatives group had her ankle taped. Her husband, Howard, age 57, who was in the Concerned Group there, had remained behind at Georgetown while the others went to Jonestown and they were evacuated as he apparently had a stroke and according to medical personnel, needed help immediately.
[Name deleted] traveled via TWA jet from Georgetown. Also, [name deleted] stayed at Georgetown and was not on the plane with them.
[Javers] was never interviewed by anyone connected with the Guyanese government concerning this shooting at the airport.