Serial 1616-3

[Editor’s note: Several of the subjects whose names are deleted in this serial are known to the editor. Those notations have been indicated by red type.]

FD-302

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Date of transcription 12/11/78

[Name, address and telephone of Tom Podgorski deleted] was interviewed at his place of residence and advised of the identity of the interviewing Agent and the fact that he was being interviewed regarding any association the Peoples Temple church may have had with the murder of Congressman Leo J. Ryan.

[Podgorski] advised that he is familiar with the Reverend Jimmy Jones and the Peoples Temple church. [Podgorski] advised that he became acquainted with the church in the late 1960s when he dated a girl named [deleted] who was a member of the Peoples Temple church.

[Podgorski] advised that in June, 1970, the [name deleted] decided to move to California and he moved with them to Stockton, California.

[Podgorski] advised that at that time [name deleted] was the only member of the Peoples Temple church and that the rest of her family, [line deleted] were not members of the church.

[Podgorski] advised that [name deleted] remained attached to the Peoples Temple and eventually got himself and the remainder of her family interested in the church and later they all became members and moved to the Ukiah, California, area which is near where the Peoples Temple church was located in Redwood Valley, California, north of San Francisco.

[Podgorski] advised that he and [name deleted] became enrolled in the church’s college program along with many other of the college-age children as it was all funded by the church.

[Podgorski] advised that many of the younger members who participated in the college program eventually became ranking members or council members of the church.

IP-181
2

[Podgorski] advised that he himself became one of the Reverend Jones’ bodyguards as Jones felt his life was in danger as he received numerous threats. [Podgorski] advised that although he was a bodyguard he was never armed although he was told that other guards did have weapons.

[Podgorski] advised that Jones had received permission from the Mendocino County sheriff to arm themselves while on the church’s property.

[Podgorski] advised that a group of the young church members he was associated with, many of which were council members, became disgruntled with the teachings and fake healings of the Reverend Jones and decided to leave the church.

[Podgorski] continued that the group was extremely cautious about this defection as they had heard rumors that other church members had tried to defect and had been killed by Jones or other high-ranking council members of the church.

[Podgorski] advised that in August, 1973, [2 lines related to the Eight Revolutionaries deleted] decided to make their escape. [Podgorski] advised the group left in the middle of the night in three cars taking with them all the weapons that Wayne Pietila (high-ranking bodyguard) had access to. [Podgorski] advised that they left with M-16s, M-1’s, along with a .357 caliber and .38 caliber hand weapons (approximately 12 in all). [Podgorski] advised that the group hid out in the states of Montana and Washington for approximately three months until they finally split up and returned to their homes. [Podgorski] advised that after their defection he heard that the Reverend Jones had become extremely paranoid as the group who defected were all aware of the false healings and illegal activities conducted by the church.

[Podgorski] advised it was at this time that he received word that Jones had begun his suicidal preachings that the members of the church should be willing to die.

IP 89-181
3

[Podgorski] advised that he was God and stressed Socialism very much.

[Podgorski] advised that he remained in contact with most of the group with which he defected and learned from [name deleted] that in 1976 Jones was taking the members of his church to Georgetown [Jonestown], Guyana. [Podgorski] advised that [name deleted]’s family had remained members and went with Jones to Guyana and it was at this time that [name deleted] began organizing a concerned citizens group which eventually contacted Congressman Ryan. [Podgorski] further advised that another ex-member of the Peoples Temple, Jim Cobb, was also a member of the concerned citizens group which dealt with Congressman Ryan and in fact was one of the individuals who accompanied Ryan to Guyana where the eventual ambush which took Congressman Ryan’s life occurred.

[Podgorski] advised that he believed Ryan [Cobb] was one of the lone survivors of the group.

[Podgorski] advised that he never had any direct knowledge of any suicidal rituals until he learned about it after his defection. He further advised that he was never aware of any assassination list although he had heard rumors prior to his defection that previous members who had attempted defection were caught and killed.

[Podgorski] advised that a few months ago he heard the Reverend Jim Jones’ son-in-law, Mike Cartnell [Cartmell], who is an attorney and former member of the Peoples Temple and who resides in California, on the “Tomorrow” talk show. [Podgorski] advised that Cartnell mentioned an assassination list which was funded by millions of dollars for enemies of the Peoples Temple.

[Podgorski] advised that he knew of no one in the Peoples Temple who worked in Mayor [George] Moscone’s office (Mayor of San Francisco) who may have been responsible for his murder. He further advised that the Reverend Jones enjoyed being seen with politicians and Jones was especially fond of Moscone and in fact, supported him in his campaign prior to his becoming Mayor of San Francisco.

[Podgorski] advised that Jones rehabilitated a Negro male named Chris Lewis who was a drug addict and later he became a member of the Peoples Temple who traveled with Jones to Guyana. [Podgorski] advised Lewis became Jones’ main

IP 89-181
4

bodyguard until a few months ago when he became disgruntled with the Peoples Temple church and returned to California. [Podgorski] advised that in California Lewis had spoken out against the Peoples Temple and its false teachings and was later discovered murdered.

[Podgorski] advised that the day before Congressman Ryan was assassinated in Guyana, he received a package of information from Jim Cobb concerning ex-Peoples Temple members who were speaking out against the Peoples Temple and the Reverend Jim Jones.

[Podgorski] advised that the members of the Peoples Temple that he defected with and has remained in contact with are as follows:

[3 paragraphs listing names of other defectors deleted. Those people are John Biddulph, Wayne Pietila, Vera Biddulph, Mickey Touchette, Lena Flowers, Terri Cobb Pietila, and Jim Cobb].

[Editor’s note: Balance of serial includes material from “package of information,” including newspaper articles, copies of the Affidavit of Deborah Layton Blakey, a March 14, 1978 letter to Congress from Peoples Temple, and the Affidavit of Yulanda Crawford.]

Originally posted on May 13th, 2018.

Skip to main content