Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
FBI Catalogue Jones Speaking
FBI preliminary tape identification note: One Hitachi C-60/ Die or whatever for the caus
Date cues on tape: Between late 1976 and mid-1977 (Les Matheson still in Jonestown
Unknown names (some phonetic)
Temple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives:
Terri Cobb Pietila [by reference]
Jonestown residents, full name unknown:
Arnold [may be stateside member]
Karen [likely Layton, could be Harms]
Suzanne Jones Cartmell
Jim Bogue (speaks)
Jim Jones Jr.
Marceline Jones (speaks)
Les Matheson (speaks)
Charlie Touchette (speaks)
Bible verses cited: None
This tape consists of two Peoples Temple meetings of the pioneers in Guyana. Side two was recorded between late 1976 and mid-1977, before the mass emigration of Temple members from the States, and while Jonestown pioneer Les Matheson is still in Guyana. It is likely side one was recorded about the same time.
The first meeting has little context. Jim Jones talks with several unidentified Temple members in Guyana about some of the poisonous spiders and snakes they’ll encounter in the jungle. Nevertheless, during the course of the short meeting, Jones raises the subject of revolutionary suicide on a couple of occasions, stating early that, in order to bring about socialism, “revolutionary suicide has to be a part of your thoughts, at least.” A few minutes later, near the end of the recording, he adds, “if our dying for something gets somebody else awakened, you should be prepared to do that.” There is only affirmation of the statements (including one person who says, “It’d be fun to die anyway”).
In the second meeting, a number of Temple leaders – including both Jim and Marceline Jones – confront Les Matheson over his tentative decision to leave Guyana and return to the States, a decision he eventually followed through on. Matheson was an early pioneer and worked several years constructing Jonestown, but the differences with his comrades – and his comrades’ differences with him – have proven insurmountable. While the meeting’s purpose ostensibly is to persuade Matheson to stay, Jones notes halfway through the confrontation that, “It’s just obvious you want to make a case to go home.”
The meeting reveals the tactics which the Temple used to try to keep people from leaving, although they are the same tactics used in catharsis sessions to vent and purge thoughts which were deemed detrimental to a member’s character and to the Temple’s cause. The starting point of the conversation is that people are accusing Matheson of “exploding” with anger when things don’t go well; his first response is that everyone is mad at him. In the course of the 20-minute conversation, he is advised to let the criticism of him go, to recognize that he has everything he needs in Jonestown (so what more could he want), to accept responsibility for his actions, to stop being defensive, to respond to the charges against him (and when he does, to stop being defensive), and to stop being paranoid. Jones eventually gives Matheson a long lecture on his behavior, but the tape begins a gradual degradation at that point, and whatever response Matheson may have given is unintelligible, as are the last five minutes of the recording.
Date of transcription: 3/22/79
In connection with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into the assassination of U.S. Congressman LEO J. RYAN at Port Kaituma, Guyana, South America, on November 18, 1978, a tape recording was obtained. This tape recording was located in Jonestown, Guyana, South America, and was turned over to U.S. Officials in Guyana and subsequently transported to the United States.
On March 3, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B47 #14. This tape was found to contain the following:
JONES questions and answers format in which the following topics were mentioned:
- Poisonious [Poisonous] insects in Guyana.
- Revolutionary suicidal missions.
- “Blowing up Washington” – example “Get the job done”
- JONES: “If our dying for something gets somebody awakened, you should be prepared to do that, who gives a shit what history has to say about you.”
- Someone in the group offers, “It would be fun to die. I’d rather die and get it over with.”
- The tape ends with JONES stating: “Well, go friends, I’ve said enough.”
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted January 2018.