Serial 2253

R 192151Z JUL 79
FM SAN FRANCISCO (89-250) (P) (SQ. 1)
TO DIRECTOR FBI (89-4286) (ROUTINE)
BT
UNCLAS
RYMUR

Re Bureau telephone call, July 19, 1979.

The following is being submitted to the Bureau for information and briefing of Director. Information includes: I. Brief People’s Temple history, II. Synopsis of Congressman’s trip setting forth identities of Ryan’s entourage and assailants at Port Kaituma, III. Synopsis of evidence against Layton, and IV. Status of investigation.

I. Brief People’s Temple (PT) history

James Warren Jones opened a small interdenominational church in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1953 which subsequently developed into the People’s Temple Church of the Disciples of Christ during the 1950s and consisted of a racially integrated Christian

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congregation. After missionary work in South America during the early 1960s, Jones returned to Indiana and continued his church, making a transition from a church to a socialist oriented movement where he became the supreme. After moving his church to Redwood Valley, California, in the mid-1960s, he continued to expand and enforce his dominance of People’s Temple members through threats, beatings and fear, while at the same time expounding love and equality.

In the early 1970s, he expanded his influence by adding two additional Temples, one in San Francisco, California, and one in Los Angeles, California, in efforts to gain additional followers and to cultivate political influence.

In 1974, Jones started the People’s Temple Agricultural Mission in Guyana, which he referred to as a paradise of social and racial freedom and equality. Subsequently, Jones fled to the People’s Temple Agricultural Mission, also referred to as Jonestown, Guyana, in June of 1977 to avoid embarrassing and hostile publicity directed against him and the People’s Temple by the local media. Approximately 1000 persons eventually settled in Guyana, of which over 900 were murdered in

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Jonestown following the assassination of Congressman Leo J. Ryan and others at Port Kaituma, Guyana.

II. Congressman Leo J. Ryan’s trip

Based upon requests from various constituents, Congressman Leo J. Ryan (Democrat – California), a member of the House International Relations Committee, became interested in various allegations made against the People’s Temple (PT). Ryan decided to visit Jonestown in November, 1978, and in preparation for his visit, he communicated with the United States Embassy in Georgetown, Guyana, and with Jones in Jonestown, Guyana, advising him of his impending trip. Ryan and his staff interviewed previous PT members, also known as defectors, for background information and received briefings from officials at the United States State Department. Simultaneous with Ryan’s preparation, a group known as the Concerned Relatives were making plans to accompany Ryan to Guyana. The Concerned Relatives group were composed of persons whose relatives were in Jonestown and who were concerned for their safety. Many of the Concerned Relatives group are PT defectors. Because of previously published articles in “New West” Magazine and local news media concerning the PT,

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several press people, including NBC News, decided to cover the Ryan trip.

United States Congressman Leo J. Ryan, along with Jackie Speier, Legislative Counsel to Ryan; James Schollaert, committee staff to Ryan; Bob Flick, NBC News; Don Harris, NBC soundman [journalist]; Tim Reiterman, journalist, San Francisco “Examiner”; Greg Robinson, photographer, San Francisco “Examiner”; Ron Javers, journalist, San Francisco “Chronicle”; Gordon Lindsey [Lindsay], freelance writer; Charles Krause, journalist, “Washington Post”; and the following Concerned Relatives: Timothy and Grace Stoen; Steve Katsaris; Clara -Clare] Bouquet; Howard and Beverly Oliver; Jim Cobb; Wayne Pietella; Bonnie Thielman [Thielmann]; Anthony Katsaris; Sherwin Harris; Nadine [Nadyne] Houston; Mickey Touchette; and Carolyn Boyd, arrived at Georgetown, Guyana, November 14-15, 1978. The purpose of Ryan’s visit was a congressional inquiry into the activities of the PT and the Reverend Jim Jones at Jonestown, Guyana. While in Georgetown, Guyana, Ryan met with United States Embassy officials; Guyanese government officials; Mark Lane and Charles Garry, Temple attorneys. Ryan subsequently traveled to Jonestown on November 17, 1978, aboard a chartered aircraft which landed at

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Port Kaituma. He was accompanied by Lane, Garry, Speier, Richard Dwyer, Deputy Chief of Mission, United States Embassy, Georgetown, Guyana; the four NBC crew members and the five journalists listed above; and four Concerned Relatives: Beverly Oliver, Anthony Katsaris, Jim Cobb, and Carolyn Boyd. After some communication with Jim Jones in Jonestown, the Ryan entourage was permitted to visit Jonestown with the exception of Gordon Lindsey.

On November 17, 1978, Ryan spoke with Jones and conducted interviews in performance of his congressional inquiry. On the following day in preparation to depart Jonestown, some Jonestown residents expressed desires to depart with Ryan. In the process of loading persons to return to Port Kaituma to await transportation for Georgetown, Congressman Ryan was assaulted with a knife by Donald Edward Sly. Sly was subdued by attorneys Garry and Lane and the Ryan entourage, along with Jonestown members desiring to leave, prepared and departed for Port Kaituma via truck. Larry Layton demanded to accompany the entourage but was suspected by other defectors to be a traitor and not a true defector.

At Port Kaituma, the Ryan entourage, with the following Jonestown defectors: Brenda, Gerald, Tracy, Dale, Edith, and

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Patricia Parks; Juanity [Juanita], Tom, Edith, Teena, and James Bogue; Monica Bagby; Harold Cordell; Vern Gosney; and Chris O’Neal and alleged defector Larry Layton, prepared to board two airplanes, when a tractor-trailer arrived at the airstrip carrying PT members who subsequently opened fire on the Ryan entourage.

Witnesses at the airstrip interviewed and have identified: Wesley Karl Breidenbach (deceased); Eddie Joe Crenshaw (deceased); Ronnie Dennis (deceased); Stanley Brian Gieg (deceased); Ronald De-Val James (deceased); Ernest [Earnest] Jones (deceased); Robert Edward Kice (deceased); Thomas David Kice (deceased); Lawrence [Laurence] John Layton (alive); Anthony Simon (deceased); Ronald Tally [Talley] (deceased); Albert Ardell Touchette (deceased); Joseph Lafayette Wilson (deceased) as assailants. Killed during the assault by above persons were: Congressman Leo J. Ryan; NBC correspondent Don Harris, NBC cameraman Bob Brown, San Francisco “Examiner” photographer Greg Robinson, and PT defector Patricia Parks. The following were wounded: Monica Bagby, defector; Richard Dwyer, Deputy Chief of Mission, American Embassy; Vernon Gosney, defector; Ron Javers, San Francisco “Chronicle”; Anthony Katsaris, Concerned Relatives; Edith Parks, defector; Tim Reiterman, San Francisco

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“Examiner”; and Steven Sung, NBC.

With the assistance of Richard A. Dwyer, American Embassy, the Guyanese and surviving persons, the wounded and survivors were assisted and moved to a safe location and were subsequently transported to Georgetown.

III. Lawrence John Layton

Lawrence John Layton, born January 11, 1946, Cheverly, Maryland, received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from University of California, Davis, in 1968 and has been associated with the PT since that time. Layton is described by PT survivors and defectors as a devout follower of Jim Jones. Layton is the brother of defector Deborah Blakey Layton and estranged husband of Carolyn Layton-Moore (deceased), a close confidant and advisor to Jim Jones authorized to carry a gun in Guyana.

Witnesses – Evidence

Larry Layton was observed in Jonestown conferring with Jim Jones just prior to his announcement of defection and after some of the persons had already boarded the truck to leave Jonestown. Layton then approached Jackie Speier, who was on the truck preparing to leave, and demanded that he be allowed to leave.

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Both defectors and Concerned Relatives expressed total disbelief in Layton’s actual defection. At Port Kaituma airstrip, Larry Layton was observed talking with Joe Wilson (identified as an armed assailant in the Ryan assassination) and shook hands with him under a poncho he was wearing. At Port Kaituma, Guyana, it was not raining and it was very warm, yet Layton never removed his poncho. Layton insisted that he depart on the first aircraft which he boarded. Because of expressed fear and complaints from defectors and Concerned Relatives, Layton was asked to deplane, where he was briefly searched by Congressman Ryan. After the small plane was loaded with Layton and others, it taxied to the end of the airstrip and was preparing to take off when shooting started at the larger plane. At this time, Layton drew a .38 caliber revolver, shot Monica Bagby, Vern Gosney, and attempted to shoot Dale Parks, but the gun misfired. Layton then shot both Bagby and Gosney one more time. Dale Parks lunged at Layton and a struggle ensued in which Parks was able to disarm Layton and flee into the jungle. During this time and shortly thereafter, the PT assailants’ tractor-trailer left the area of the large plane and came to the area of the small plane, where it made a

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U-turn and paused beside it and then proceeded to move away from the airstrip. There are eyewitnesses to the above events. Layton was subsequently arrested by the Guyanese police at which time he furnished a statement admitting his attempt to kill Ryan but denying conspiracy by any other persons.

San Francisco is in possession of NBC videotape, as well as photographs of Larry Layton at Jonestown, Port Kaituma, and in route to Port Kaituma on November 18, 1978. In addition, San Francisco has lab reports to include ballistic examinations of guns used by Larry Layton and unidentified assailant against Congressman Ryan. San Francisco has original of “Last Hour” tape of Jim Jones in Jonestown, which was being recorded before, during, and after the assault of Congressman Ryan at Port Kaituma. On this tape, Jim Jones says:

“… There’s one man (Larry Layton) there (Port Kaituma), who blames, and rightfully so, Debbie Blakey, for the murder, for the murder of his mother and he’ll sh… he’ll stop that pilot by any means necessary. He’ll do it. The plane will come out of the air. There’s no way you can fly a plane without a pilot.” (Ryan’s plane).

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Evidence – Witnesses in Guyana

1. Cecil Roberts, Assistant Commissioner of Crime, Guyana National Police (supervising official of Guyanese investigation), should be able to furnish the following: A. Signed statement of Larry Layton; B. .38 caliber revolver used by Larry Layton; C. Guyana police investigative report; D. Copies of police diary for November 18, 1978.

2. Dr. Leslie Mootoo, pathologist who performed autopsy on Congressman Ryan, could furnish testimony and original autopsy report.

3. Arresting officer of Larry Layton (believed to be Durga Persaud, constable, Port Kaituma) may be able to furnish verbal statements of Larry Layton at time of arrest.

4. Thomas Baine, Guyana National Police photographer who took crime scene photographs an assistant in crime scene search, could testify to identification of crime scene and photographs.

IV. Status of Investigation

From investigation and review of evidence which includes written documents, audio and video tapes, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has identified Layton and 14 other persons

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(deceased) involved in the assassination and conspiracy to assassinate Congressman Ryan. Layton is currently being held awaiting trial by authorities in Guyana in connection with the investigation in Port Kaituma, Guyana.

No positive evidence has been developed to indicate a continuing conspiracy by People’s Temple or its members to assassinate other persons.a

FBI continuing to review evidence and continue investigation in efforts to identify additional confederates. At the direction of the Attorney General, the FBI is disseminating any information developed of possible criminal activities by the PT or its members to appropriate law enforcement agencies.

Armed and dangerous.

BT

Originally posted on April 30th, 2018.

Last modified on February 19th, 2021.
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