Serial 237

[Editor’s note: One of the subjects of this serial whose name is deleted is Jackie Speier, the aide to Congressman Leo Ryan who was wounded at the Port Kaituma airstrip. The deleted information from the memorandum which is known to the editor has been indicated by red type.

[The FD-302 version of this interview appears two different places, as Part 1 of Serial 1212 and as Part 6 of Serial 1681, the FBI’s 387-page report of January 12, 1979. Serial 237 is the FBI cable version. While all three versions of the interview had unique deletions – designated by blue type – in neither interview was the subject identified.]

0 241550Z NOV 78
FM BALTIMORE (89-173) -P-
TO DIRECTOR, FBI (IMMEDIATE)
SAN FRANCISCO ((IMMEDIATE)
BT
UNCLAS
RYMUR

[Released at Serial 1212-1 and 1681-06] [half-line deleted identifying Jackie Speier], to Congressman Leo Ryan (D-Calif.) who was slain in Guyana, November 18, 1978, was interviewed at Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services (MIEMS).

[Line deleted] [Speier] was listed in serious but stable condition at MIEMS with bullet wounds of [information deleted].

[Speier] was unable to identify any individuals involved in shooting incident at airstrip near Jonestown, Guyana, on November 18, 1978.

She said Ryan began formulating plans to visit Jonestown in early summer, 1978, following West Coast media coverage of defection from People’s Temple of Debbie Leyton [Layton] Blakey in May, 1978.

PAGE TWO (BA 89-173) UNCLAS

Ryan interviewed Blakey about conditions in Jonestown in August, 1978 and subsequently was contacted by other relatives of Temple members in Jonestown. Liaison was established by Ryan’s office with Richard McCoy, U.S. State Department, Washington, D.C., concerning a trip to Guyana to visit Jonestown. On November 11[,] 1978 a telegram was sent to Jonestown by Ryan, formally announcing his intention to visit the community.

[Speier] said prior to leaving, she and Ryan spoke with Al and Jean Mills of Berkeley, California, who had been to Jonestown to obtain the names of any defectors that could be interviewed.

The Mills stated that Tim Carter, a Temple defector, was in San Francisco 2 to 3 days prior to Ryan’s planned departure for Jonestown and had inquired of the Mills as to Ryan’s flight schedule. The Mills stated that although Carter was an alleged defector, his San Francisco apartment was virtually bare of food or other indication of permanent residence. [Speier] said it was also curious because upon arrival at Jonestown, Tim Carter was there.

In addition, [Speier] stated Ryan’s office received a curious call allegedly from Pan American airlines a few days prior to

PAGE THREE (BA 89-173) UNCLAS

departure. A female says she was making final arrangements for the flight, including VIP treatment for Ryan, and to firm up the schedule and itinerary.

[Speier] said that a total of 16 concerned parents accompanied the congressional party and press representatives to Guyana on November 14, 1978, arriving at Georgetown. All of the group stayed in Georgetown except Beverly Oliver, Steve Katsaris, Jim Cobb and Carolyn Boyd, who stayed in Jonestown.

She and Ryan went to Jonestown on Friday, November 17, 1978 and stayed until Saturday, November 18, 1978, taking about 20 declarations from Jonestown residents who desired to leave with the congressman.

[Speier] said on November 18, 1978 a truck containing 28 people, including 16 detectors, left Jonestown for the airstrip 8 miles away. The driver was Stanley Grimes [Released at Serial 1212-1 and 1681-06] Ginns [actual name is Stanley Gieg] of Concord, California, who also had driven them from the airstrip to Jonestown the previous day. Among the defectors on the truck was Larry Leyton [Layton], brother of Debbie Blakey, mentioned above.

Trip to airfield took more than an hour due to poor road conditions. Two planes were at the airstrip, a large and a small

PAGE FOUR (BA 89-173) UNCLAS

craft. [Information deleted] [Released at Serial 1212-1 and 1681-06] [was handling departure arrangements] placing defector families in the large airplane, and single detectors in the smaller craft. It was obvious all present could not leave on the two planes, and that a return trip would be necessary. Leyton insisted on leaving on the first plane to take off. All defectors were checked for weapons before boarding. Leyton, wearing a poncho, entered the smaller plane prior to search and was challenged. Leyton pulled a pistol and began firing inside the plane, before gun wrestled from him by Dale Parks. Leyton then fled the area.

A few minutes later a tractor with flatbed on rear arrived at airstrip with about 10 men, both white and Negro. The truck began circling the planes as the men on the truck fired upon those not yet on board the two planes. Speier, Ryan and NBC newsman Don Harris attempted to hide behind the plane wheel. Both Ryan and Harris were hit by gunfire and killed. Speier played dead but was struck by bullets in the right forearm and right thigh. The attack lasted a few minutes.

[Speier] and several other wounded stayed near the planes following

PAGE FIVE (BA 89-173) UNCLAS

the assault, and a few others went to a nearby disco bar to await help.

She said there is no indication of any violence or conspiracy to kill Ryan prior to their leaving for Jonestown. It was her opinion the incident at the airstrip was a spur-of-the-moment plan initiated after several defectors had come forth seeking Ryan’s assistance and leaving the commune.

[Final paragraph deleted]

BT

Originally posted on December 2nd, 2018.

Last modified on September 13th, 2019.
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