Serial 1579

[Editor’s note: The subject of this serial whose name is deleted is Jonestown survivor Odell Rhodes. In addition, words which deleted in this serial were revealed in the Serial 1583 containing corrections. The deleted information from the memorandum – designated by brackets – which is known to the editor has been indicated by red type.]

0 040205Z JAN 79
FM DETROIT (89-247)
TO DIRECTOR (89-4286) IMMEDIATE
SAN FRANCISCO (89-250) IMMEDIATE
BT
SECTION 1 OF 2
UNCLAS
RYMUR, 00: SAN FRANCISCO

Re Miami teletype to Director, December 30, 1978, and Detroit teletype to Director, January 2, 1979.

On January 4, 1979, [4 lines of identifying information on Odell Rhodes deleted] voluntarily appeared for interview at FBI office, Detroit. [Rhodes] had previously discussed his interview with an attorney and agreed to interview without attorney present.

In October of [year deleted], [Rhodes] became interested in Peoples Temple (PT) after listening to a presentation given by Jimmy Jones at Detroit, Michigan. [Rhodes] joined PT and

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worked at the San Francisco Temple until September of 1977 when he traveled to Jonestown, Guyana. [Rhodes] employed as [2 lines deleted].

During the week November 12, through 18, 1978, [Rhodes] became aware of Congressman Ryan’s intended visit. PT leader Jimmy Jones made an announcement over the compound speaker system that Ryan was a troublemaker. It was [Rhodes’] opinion that Jones did not want Ryan to visit the compound but reluctantly agreed to the visit. Prior to Ryan’s visit, the majority of Temple residents signed a petition protesting Ryan’s visit. In a second message over the speaker system, Jones told the residence [residents] to clean up the compound area for Ryan’s arrival on the 17 of November. Jones stated there would be no trouble.

At approximately 5:00 PM on November 17, 1978, Ryan and his party arrived Jonestown, Guyana. Ryan and party arrived via truck and were taken to the pavilion area. [Rhodes] observed the truck park at the kitchen area of the compound and saw members of the Ryan party speaking with

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Jimmy Jones and PT attorneys, Mark Lane and Charles Gary [Garry].

At approximately 8:00 PM, November 17, 1978, a variety show was given at the Pavilion for the benefit of the Ryan party. Show ended at approximately 10:30 PM with both Temple members and Ryan party in good spirits. Ryan was introduced by Marceline Jones and Ryan made a short speech commenting praising the Jonestown operation. [Rhodes] returned to [several words deleted] [the hospital unit] after Ryan’s comment.

On November 18, 1978, [Rhodes] woke at approximately 1:00 PM and observed reporters and others of the Ryan party board a truck in the vicinity of the kitchen building. [Rhodes] then walked past the pavilion and observed Ryan talking to unidentified members of the PT. [Rhodes] returned to his residence where [several words deleted] Monica Bagby, and Vern Gozney [Gosney] were discussing their distress over approximately 20 PT members leaving with the Ryan party.

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[Rhodes] noticed a commotion at the Pavilion and saw Don Sly, a PT member, attack Congressman Ryan with a knife at approximately 2:30 PM. Other PT members defended Ryan and Sly was subdued. Marceline Jones spoke with Ryan after the incident. She then broadcasted over the speaker that everything was all right and that the members should return to their homes. Ryan and his assistant, Ms. Spear [Jackie Speier], were accompanied to the kitchen area and believed to have boarded the truck.

At 4:00 PM, November 18, 1978, Jimmy Jones called a meeting of all members and sent security guards to make sure all residents attended. Jones stated everybody will have to commit suicide. Anyone not doing so would be disgraced and torchered [tortured] by the Guyanese authorities. One woman, Christine Miller, shouted disagreement at Jones but she in turn was shouted down by other PT members in the crowd.

Jones stated that the pilot of Ryan’s plane would be shot when the plane was over the jungle and all would die

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in the crash. Jones stated the person who was going to do the shooting blamed his own sister for his mother’s death. [Rhodes] assumed from that statement that Larry Layton would do the shooting. Christine Miller again objected and stated, “Maybe he won’t do it,[“] but Jones replied he will if the plane ever gets off the ground.

A short time later [Rhodes] heard a vehicle pulling into the compound and Johnny Jones approached the pavilion and whispered at Reverend Jones. Reverend Jones then announced, “It’s too late, they are all dead,” mentioning Ryan by name and also Jim Cobb.

Jones then instructed Dr. Larry Schact [Schacht] to bring the poison. Jones told the people to hurry so they might die with dignity. Quantities of poison brought in plastic containers to the pavilion by various PT members.

Majority of the crowd got in line with their children

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and took doses of poison by mouth and injected into the mouths of children by the use of a syringe. [Rhodes] observed people beginning to die approximately five minutes after taking the poison and stated most other members remained in line and continue to voluntarily take the poison.

[Rhodes] stated a security perimeter of approximately 20 people armed with bows and arrows and cross bows were present to prevent members from leaving. In addition, an outer perimeter of approximately 20 security officers armed with firearms also on duty.

At one point the doctor asked a nurse to bring him a stethoscope and [Rhodes] effected his escape [2 lines deleted] and hid under the building.

Just before dark an announcement made over the speaker instructing all people with weapons to report to the radio room. At this time, [Rhodes] ran into the jungle and walked approximately four hours to Kaituma where he contacted police.

[Rhodes] stated occasional firearms practice was conducted by security guards but were not highly trained in their use.

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The following individuals were part of the firearm carrying security force: Joe Wilson (in charge of weapons), Greg Watkins, Albert Touchette, Billy Oliver, Bruce Oliver, Charles Marshall, Wesley Bridenback [Breidenbach], Bob Kice, and Ronny [Ronnie] James. [Rhodes] believed all the above deceased except Charles Marshall and Ronny James.

Individuals who carried crossbows included Marie Rankin, Bob Rankin, Marlene Wheeler, and Nancy Sines, all of the above believed deceased except Marlene Wheeler.

[Rhodes] believed the following to be the closest confidants of Jimmy Jones: Hariet Troup [Harriet Tropp], Johnny Jones, Jean Chaiken [Gene Chaikin], and Maria Consares [Katsaris] (phonetic).

[Rhodes] provided a list of the following members of Jonestown basketball team: Steven [Stephan] Jones, Tim Jones, Calvin Douglas, Lee Ingram, Eugene Smith, Cleveland Newell, Johnny Cobb, Carl Barnett. [Rhodes] believed all members are alive and that they were in Georgetown, Guyana when Ryan’s incident occurred.

BT

[Page 8]

0 040218Z JAN 79
FM DETROIT (89-247)
TO DIRECTOR (89-4286) IMMEDIATE
SAN FRANCISCO (89-250) IMMEDIATE
BT
SECTION 2 OF 2
UNCLAS
RYMUR, 00: SAN FRANCISCO

PAGE NINE DE 89-247 UNCLAS

The following individuals known to operate Jonestown ham radio, Mike Carter, Terry [Terri] Buford, both alive. [Rhodes] did not know text of radio message sent.

Other members who were close associates of Jones that remain alive are Tim Carter, Michael Prokes, Mike Trouchette [Touchette], Lee Ingram, and Archie James [Ijames].

[Rhodes] not aware of any criminal activities at compound. PT residents did not use narcotics on a daily basis. Residents forced to stay in compound and were administered tranquilizers if caught trying to escape. [Rhodes] observed no one being murdered when mass suicide occurred and not familiar with the term “angels or assassination squad”. [Rhodes] did not recall any prior discussions or threats made against Ryan or other governmental officials prior to the incident. [Rhodes] not familiar with any large quantities of weapons or weapon shipment into Guyana.

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[Rhodes] stated PT member Dale Parks possessing a list of PT members who blame the Ryan party and Temple members who want to leave with Ryan for the downfall of the PT organization.

[Rhodes] stated the only explanation he could offer for the bazaar [bizarre] incident was that Reverend Jim Jones was an egomaniac and could not tolerate the thought of anyone taking members from his Temple. [Rhodes] stated he felt the PT would continue to operate in the future but did not feel revenge would be taken against authorities or other PT members.

[4 lines of descriptive information deleted]

Armed and dangerous, suicidal

BT

Originally posted on May 13th, 2018.

Last modified on December 30th, 2020.
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