Serial 1644-1

[Editor’s note: One of the subjects of this serial whose name is deleted is Jonestown survivor Herbert Newell. The deleted information from the memorandum – designated by brackets – which is known to the editor has been indicated by red type.]


Federal Bureau of Investigation

Date of transcription 1/8/79

[name deleted] [Herbert Newell] was interviewed at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Queens, New York (NY), after his departure from Pan-American flight 228 arriving from Georgetown, Guyana. [Newell] was interviewed in the presence of Agent [name deleted], United States Secret Service and furnished the following information:

Newell advised he first got involved with the Peoples Temple (PT) Church in 1975, when his mother took him to several meetings at the PT headquarters in Los Angeles, California. He stated as his mother was a member, he also joined the PT. In 1976, [Newell] stated he moved to [location deleted], San Francisco and then attended meetings at the PT headquarters in San Francisco. He advised he was part of the [line deleted, likely related to security force] the grounds of the headquarters and [line deleted]. He advised he maintained the position until March, 1978, when he left San Francisco by bus en route to Florida where he eventually took a plane to Georgetown, Guyana.

Upon his arrival in Jonestown, [Newell] advised he remained assigned to the [position deleted; likely, “security force”]. His position was to [several words deleted] leading in and out of Jonestown. [Newell] advised it was not an easy job as he was required to work 12 hours a day. At the end of his work hours, [Newell] advised everyone then went to the pavilion for a meeting with Rev. Jones.

[Newell] advised other members of the [position deleted; likely, “security force”] were:

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BQ 89-495

Jimmy Jones
[name deleted]
Tim Jones
[name deleted]
Calvin Douglas

He stated although he was on the [position deleted; likely, “security force”], he never used a weapon, however, he knew other members in Jonestown did have authority to carry weapons. These weapons consisted of shotguns, rifles, and handguns. [Newell] advised the individuals that used these weapons were:

Ed Crenshaw
Jimmy Jones
Tim Jones
Lou [Lew] Jones
Billy Oliver
Bruce Oliver
Danny Motten [Moten]

[Newell] stated Joe Wilson was in charge of training the men with the weapons although he never saw them actually train. [Newell] advised he did not know how or where these weapons came from, but that they were to be used to defend Jonestown in case of attack [Newell] stated Rev. Jones would tell the members that the CIA or other groups in the United States may try to attack Jonestown and we have to be prepared for such an attack.

[Newell] advised if Jonestown was attacked and we had to relocate someplace else, he felt it might be Russia because the Soviet Doctor and Ambassador named Timofeyev came to Jonestown several months ago to praise us and our work. After the visit from the Soviet Ambassador, Rev. Jones had some of the members learning how to speak Russian.

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BQ 89-495

[Newell] advised that the weapons were kept in Jimmy Jones and Johnny Cobb’s cottage and when they “white night” was called, the weapons would be brought out. He advised these “white night” drills were strange. Everyone would be in the pavilion and Rev. Jones would ask questions about who wanted to die and if you are prepared to die. [Newell] stated you had to say you wanted to die. [Newell] said the whole thing was very strange.

[Newell] advised he was not aware of any plans to kill any officials of another government, including Congressman Ryan. He advised that Friday morning, when Ryan was coming to Jonestown, he was assigned to go to the [line deleted] members of the group that were at the airport that morning were:

Johnny Jones
Jim MacElvane [McElvane]
Harriet Tropp
Judy Ijames
Mike Prokes
Stanley Gieg

[Newell] advised that at first, they were not going to let the plane land. Stanley Gieg, who was driving the truck, was going to ride up and down the landing field so the plane could not set down. [Newell] stated when the plane was in sight, Johnny Jones ordered Stanley to let it land. After the plane landed, Ryan and his party got on the truck and we drove into Jonestown. Ryan was also accompanied by Mark Lane and Charles Gary [Garry], who were friends of Rev. Jones. [Newell] stated Friday night Ryan was entertained in Jonestown and spent the night there.

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BQ 89-495

[Newell] stated on Saturday morning everyone was supposed to have the day off, however, Tim Jones approached him and Stanley Gieg [Clifford Gieg] and advised him to take the “Cudjoe” to Kamaku (phonetic) and pick up some supplies. [Newell] stated they objected, but Tim told them it was important for them to get there so they got on the “Cudjoe” and left.

[Newell] advised on Saturday night the Guyana Defense Force soldiers told him about the shooting of Ryan and then the next day they learned about the mass suicides at Jonestown. [Newell] he had no advanced knowledge that either of these events were going to take place.

[Newell] advised he then went to Georgetown where he has been staying.

[Newell] stated he does not feel anyone is going to try to kill him or any other survivors of Jonestown because he does not consider themselves defectors. He feels the PT will continue in San Francisco, but that something like Jonestown will never happen again.

[Newell] stated that Ordell Rhoades [Odell Rhodes] was at Jonestown on the day of the Ryan killing and when the suicides were taking place and he would be able to advise what happened that day.

[Newell] advised he would be returning to his wife’s [names and location deleted] California and could be reached there if further needed.

Through interview and observation, the following information was obtained regarding [Herbert Newell]:

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BQ 89-495

Name [Herbert Newell]
Race Negro
Sex Male
Date of birth [deleted]
Place of birth [deleted]
Height [deleted]
Weight [deleted]
Hair Black
Eyes Brown
Scars [deleted]
Residence (does not remember) [location deleted], San Francisco, California, [information deleted]
Telephone Does not remember
Occupation [deleted]
Education [deleted] grade
Marital Status Married
Family members Wife – [name deleted]
Daughter – [name deleted]
Son – [name deleted]
Address [deleted], California
Arrests [deleted]
Destination [deleted], California