[Editor’s note: This document was released both as a State Department cable as part of its 1981 FOIA release, and as Serial 1232 of the FBI’s RYMUR release. The FBI withheld several names or offices from this cable. They are denoted below in red type.
[The text for this document was released in 2014 by the now-defunct Wikileaks website at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978GEORGE04281_d.html. This URL may be available through the Wayback Machine.]
GEORGE 04281 141619Z
INFO OCT-01 ISO-00 CIAE-00 INR-10 NSAE-00 INRE-00 SCS-06 CA-01 HA-05 SY-05 SYE-00 FBIE-00 USSS-00 SS-15 SSO-00 NSCE-00 H-02 L-03 PA-02 /065 W
——————005125 141624Z /50
O 141415Z DEC 78
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8459
UNCLAS GEORGETOWN 4281
E.O. 12065: NA
TAGS: CDES; CGEN, GY (PEOPLE’S TEMPLE)
SUBJ: CORONER’S INQUEST INTO JONESTOWN MASS DEATH
REF: STATE 313641
1. Coroner’s inquest into the Jonestown deaths of “James Warren Jones, et al” began yesterday (Dec 13) at Matthews Ridge, before Majistrate Haroon Bacchus and five jurors. Inquest is being conducted by Emmanuel Ramao, Director of Public Prosecutions.
2. Three witnesses gave testimony at the hearing. Assistant Commissioner of Police Cecil “Skip” Roberts recounted how he and his men discovered passports, tapes, personal letters, cash, etc. at Jonestown on Nov 20. Roberts tendered to the court this lists of identified dead provided to date by Dover AFB and passed on to the Government of Guyana (GOG) by the embassy. Dr. Cyril Mootoo, GOG pathologist, testified that beginning on Nov 20 he conducted toxicological studies without vivesection on thirty-nine bodies identified by Odell Rhodes, and on twenty-five bodies, chosen at random, from those that had not then been identified. Results showed that all sixty-four had died of “acute cyanide poisoning.” according to the testimony of both Roberts and Mootoo, they saw only
PAGE 02 GEORGE 04281 141619Z
two bodies at Jonestown with evidence of “external wounds,” those of Rev. Jim Jones and Ann Elizbeth [Elizabeth] Moore. Mootoo stated that on the basis of his examination, which included a postmortem vivesection, Jones died as the result of a head wound caused by the “near discharge” of a .38 caliber handgun. The wound, he continued, was located in one of the “suicide areas” for a right-handed person. However, Mootoo said he could not tell from his examination whether the wound was self-inflicted. Mootoo added that there was no evidence of poison in Jones’ body. Mootoo testified that on the basis of his examination, which included a partial vivesection, Annie Moore was murdered by means of a high velocity rifle. As in the case of Rev. Jones, there was no evidence of poison in Moore’s body. The third witness, a police photographer, testified concerning pictures he took of Jonestown on Nov 20.
3. Ramao told Emboff [Embassy officer] on Dec 13 that testimony of Conoff [Consular officer] (Reftel) will not be needed at the inquest.
4. Hearing is scheduled to resume today (Dec 14). Both Ramao Bacchus hope to end the inquest today.
Burke [John Burke, U.S. Ambassador to Guyana]
Note by OC/T: Reference appears to be incorrect.