0 080403Z JAN 79
FM COLUMBIA (89-68) (P)
TO DIRECTOR (89-4286) ROUTINE
SAN FRANCISCO (89-250) ROUTINE
Re San Francisco tel to Bureau, December 28, 1978.
On January 5, 1979, Helen Beatrice Ferris Swinney, reinterviewed at residence of [name and address deleted] and furnished following additional information:
Swinney stated she was member of Planning Commission of Peoples Temple (PT) when she and husband operated a nursing home for PT in California. In 1976 upon arrival in Guyana, she was excluded from Planning Commission and no longer a member of same. Upon arrival in Guyana, there were initially 100 PT members and she worked in the kitchen preparing food. She subsequently was placed in position of purchasing food for
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compound as Reverend Jones considered her past experience in the operation of nursing home in California. Many months later, Jones announced at a meeting of all PT members that a large boat was going to be purchased by the PT and that she would be placed on vessel as she was an excellent organizer. She was not consulted by Jones prior to this announcement and was shocked at same. Upon purchase of vessel “Albatross” of which purchase was handled primarily by Richard Janaro, she was ordered to work on same. Swinney advised many PT members may have thought she was still a member of Planning Commission due to her being placed on vessel by Jones.
Swinney stated Albatross was purchased with the intention of making money for PT as a shipping vessel. The vessel made only one trip to Port Kaituma, this being when vessel initially purchased and carried supplies for Jonestown. Swinney not present on this trip. Albatross inoperative until late October, 1978. On approximately November 2, 1978, Swinney departed aboard Albatross to obtain equipment and parts at Trinidad. No discussion was made of Congressman Ryan’s visit to Guyana prior to her departure and she was unaware of same. She stated
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this was only trip Albatross ever made from Jonestown district. Prior to vessel’s departure she was advised by Mary Waterspoon [Wotherspoon], the savings account had been established at Trinidad with $60,000 for purchase of equipment. Upon arrival at Trinidad, Richard Janaro, Charlie Touchette, Philip Blakey, and she began purchase of supplies. After learning of mass suicide, in Jonestown, Swinney stated she closed bank account and gave remaining funds of approximately $11,000 to son-in-law, Charles Touchette, for operation of vessel. Swinney at this time was evasive and vague as to equipment purchased in distribution of funds in Trinidad that occurred during trip.
Swinney advised trawler “Cudjoe” was main vessel means for transporting food and supplies and PT members. Swinney not associated with operation of this vessel although she was passenger on same many times when traveling to Jonestown. On one return trip, Russian ambassador and wife were on vessel en route to meet with Reverend Jones at Jonestown. Swinney possessed no knowledge regarding the shipment of weapons and never observed any weapons aboard vessels Albatross or Cudjoe.
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Swinney stated she never observed firearms training at Jonestown but that numerous individuals practiced with bows and arrows. She first became aware that there were a large number of guns in Jonestown during one of the “White Nights”. On this occasion, all members of the PT were ordered to the pavilion and told that mercenaries were in the jungle and that they were going to be attacked. She observed many guns being carried by younger members of the PT and heard numerous shots being shot in the jungle. After a few hours, Jones advised that they had been saved. She stated on one “White Night”, PT members were not permitted to leave the pavilion and guarded by armed individuals. Most of the guards were young PT members and she recalls that some of them were members of the basketball team. The guards also wore uniforms consisting of khaki pants and shirts. She recalls the following as being guards at Jonestown: Joe Wilson, Tim Day [Jones], Jimmy Jones, Steven [Stephan] Jones, Bob Kice, John Cobb, Wesley Briedenbach, Ron Tally.
Swinney stated to the best of her knowledge, the basketball team had played no games prior to leaving Jonestown on their last trip. She could not recall specific names of team players
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other than Steven and Jim Jones being members.
Swinney could furnish no additional information as to any contingency plan, threats to harm public officials, caching of weapons, money, or existence of an assassination squad.
Swinney stated she was never advised of names of members of Planning Commission at Jonestown, but through observation, surmised the following to be commissioned members: Tish Leroy (phonetic), Mike Prokes, Carolyn Layton, Jack Beam, daughter-in-law of Reverend Jones, (FNU) [First Name Unknown] Cobb, Johnny Jones. Swinney advised that if any type of contingency plan existed, the following individuals who through observation were considered to be the “inner core” of the PT, would be the individuals to carry out same: Johnny Jones, Carolyn Layton, Debbie Layton, Terry Buford, Jack Beam.
Swinney stated that when she was in Jonestown, it was rumored that Paula Adams, a secretary of Reverend Jones, had on occasions dated a Bunny Mann, who she believes may have been an ambassador or representative of the United States [Laurence “Bonny” Mann, Guyana’s ambassador to the U.S.]. She advised Adams had the reputation of providing sexual favors for individuals provided by Jones, although she possessed no firsthand
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knowledge of this information. She possesses no additional information regarding possible bribery of any public officials.
Swinney advised the following operated the PT’s radio equipment at Jonestown, Guyana: Karen Layton, Carolyn Layton, Sharon Amos, Mike Prokes, Donnie Casanova, Debbie Blakey, Debbie Touchette, Paula Adams.
Swinney stated that in her opinion, Steven Jones would be individual to succeed his father if PT were to continue existence. Swinney could furnish no information regarding currency or firearms that were transported to or from the United States by the PT.
It would appear [name deleted] is identical to [name deleted] is known to friends as [name deleted] and previously interviewed by Bureau agents November 27-28, 1978, of which results are in possession of San Francisco. Helen Swinney further advised there is no [name deleted] in family but a [name deleted] was former PT member. [name deleted] now married and using the name of [name deleted] last known to be residing in Healdsburg, California.
It is to be noted that Helen Swinney became quite emotional
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at various stages of interview. It is felt that Swinney, who now claims embarrassment due to her ignorance and interpretation of what was actually taking place in her presence at Jonestown, may possess additional information regarding PT, which she will not divulge. It is suggested interview of Swinney be discussed with USA, San Francisco for consideration of Swinney appearing before Federal Grand Jury this matter.
FD-302 to follow.
Consider PT survivors possibly dangerous and suicidal.