The Diary of Mark Lane

Two of the survivors of the mass murder-suicide in Jonestown were the Temple’s attorneys, Charles Garry and Mark Lane, who had accompanied the Ryan party from Georgetown and who stayed behind in Jonestown to help facilitate the departure of other residents who wanted to leave. As the deaths began, Garry and Lane were escorted to the East House, where they remained until they decided to make their own escape through the jungle.

Mark Lane wrote a diary, which the FBI described as “a manuscript consisting of 49 typewritten pages, double spaced.” He completed it on November 26, 1978 – eight days after the deaths – and turned over to the FBI two days later. It was released to author Jeff Guinn pursuant to a FOIA request in the summer of 2017, fourteen months after Lane’s death.

The diary reveals the source of a number of rumors about the deaths in Jonestown, including – perhaps most importantly – the report of both the existence and use automatic weapons in Jonestown. One single statement – “The silence was shattered by some eighty-to-ninety rounds of ammunition which apparently were fired from automatic or semiautomatic rifles” – had also been conveyed to the Guyana Defense Force on November 19, which contributed greatly to the decision to move into Jonestown with the deliberation of a military operation. The delays and deliberations resulting from that decision contributed to a further compromise of the crime scene that the GDF belatedly secured.

The release contains many redactions. However, one of the subjects of this serial whose name is deleted is former Temple member Terri Buford. The deleted information from the memorandum – designated by brackets – which is known to the editor has been indicated by red type; her name likely appears in many other sections that have been blacked out in their entirety.

Diary of Mark Lane, RYMUR 89-4286-1681, pages 313-362
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Last modified on April 12th, 2018.
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