[Editor’s note: The subject of the interview on this serial whose name is deleted – in every place except one – is Tom Dickson. The deleted information from the memorandum – designated by brackets – which is known to the editor has been indicated by red type.]
0 221821Z NOV 78
FM TAMPA (89-79) (P)
TO DIRECTOR PRIORITY
SAN FRANCISCO (89-250) PRIORITY
Re Bureau teletype to all offices, November 20, 1978; Tampa tel call to San Francisco, November 20, 1978.
On November 20, 1978, [two lines deleted identifying Tom Dickson], telephonically advised that he was a former, early member of the Peoples’ Temple and knew Jim Jones when he was in Indianapolis, Ind., in the late 1950’s. Dickson wanted to discuss this matter with the FBI, but advised was being interviewed by the media November 20, 1978, and would be available November 21, 1978.
On November 21, 1978, [Dickson] furnished the following
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Jones first came into local prominence in Indianapolis, Ind., in 1958 or 1959 as a civil rights activist, minister/faith healer. [Dickson] was then a licensed minister, with no church, and employed full-time as assistant editor, “Fortville Tribune,” Fortville, Ind.
By mid-1959, Jones’ activities, including faith healing, preaching of nonviolence and communal living, were widely publicized. Jones began to develop an effective organization which included some wealthy and influential persons who lent their names and financial support. Jones impressed most people with an excellent speaking ability, croupled [coupled] with tremendous personal magnetism. He gained a reputation as a champion of minorities, poor and old. He convinced many people to make sizeable financial contributions to his cause, and he used the money to buy old buildings and thereafter allegedly converted them to nursing homes, most of which were determined to be definitely substandard. He got around labor laws by using all “volunteer” staffs selected from his following, many of whom were not necessarily qualified.
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Jones was appointed at the city’s civil rights director and used that position to spread his influence further.
[Dickson] became more and more involved in Jones’ organization and was made an “associate minister” and then was appointed to the ” Crouncil [Council] of Elders,” which purported to be the governing body of the sect, but which was, in fact, a “rubber stamp” for Jones. No matter how outrageous an idea Jones would advocate, the Council of Elders would already have been primed to set forth that proposal as their own, thereby giving Jones the power to do almost anything he wished. The Council was also used as a coercive force which was employed in an Inquisition-like manner to threaten or otherwise intimidate potential “deserters” or group dissidents. Jones would frequently fly into a rage, when questioned, and became verbally assaultive toward the questioner. Initially, this may have been a tactic employed to keep questions to a minimum; however, the rages became increasingly real as Jones’ organization grew.
Jones’ messages to his followers became more anti-establishment and contained more and stronger references to himself as
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a “prophet of God,” and there were times when it appeared that he came very close to proclaiming himself as God. Jones had many books on socialism and Marxism which he read himself and would recommend to others. He also issued the dire threats to anyone who left, or even considered leaving, the group such as publicly proclaiming they would drop dead of a heart attack or be struck by lightning or some other tragic end. [Dickson] stated that by about early 1960, the threats, fear-mongering and demands for money became the greater part of Jones’ “message,” and many of the more prominent and/or wealthy followers withdrew their support, and more governmental agencies began questioning his operations.
[Dickson] advised that Jones was always known to take large quantities of “medication,” and it is [Dickson’s] belief that some of the “medicine” was morphine, although he never had any proof, and he cannot conclusively state that the increase of “medication” had any direct relationship with Jones’ change in approach and “wilder” messages.
It was at this point, in approximately 1961, the dates unknown, that Jones, along with his wife, Marcie (phonetic),
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and a few other couples went to an unknown location in South America. Subsequent to the South American trip, Jones returned to Indianapolis by way of Hawaii. Upon Jones’ return, he renewed his efforts to gather a following and rallied some 200 to 300 supporters who sold everything they had, turned over the money to Jones, and thereafter accompanied him to California. [Dickson] stated he believed the group first went to a smaller area, such as Eureka or Ukiah or some area that sounds like one of those, and thereafter proceeded to the San Francisco area.
[Dickson] stated he had had a bitter argument with Jones, prior to the South American trip, and left Jones’ group along with a few others, who had also begun doubting Jones’ veracity and motives.
[Dickson] said Jones has had several mistresses in addition to his life, Marcie. He has a natural son, Steve [Stephan], by his wife and an adopted black son, Johnnie [Jimmie]. Jones advocated nonviolence, but maintained some firearms himself as did many of his closest followers, most of whom could be best described as “yes men.”
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[Dickson] described Jones is having the “senses of a successful con man,” which, coupled with his personal magnetism, had the combined effect of enabling Jones to convince others to do anything for them, no matter how distasteful. [Dickson] likened Jones to Charles Manson and his effect on his followers.
[Dickson] expressed surprise at Jones’ death, more than the circumstances surrounding it, because Jones’ usual pattern was to stir up his followers and then move away from the scene prior to any violence occurring.
Jones’ right hand man in Indianapolis was Archie Iames [Ijames], who made the move to California with Jones, and who, thereafter, telephonically tried to persuade [Dickson] to return to the group in California. [Dickson] advised that to the best of his recollection, his last contact with Iames or anyone else in the group was approximately 10 years ago.
It is noted that the [deleted information] [Tampa Tribune] published an interview with [information related to Dickson], a copy of which will be reported to San Francisco by separate communication along with the FD-302 of [Dickson]’s interview.
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[Dickson] was also interviewed, telephonically, by an Indianapolis newspaper while interviewing agents were present.
It is noted that [Dickson] has advised that he “met regularly” with an FBI agent from the Indianapolis office during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, whose name he does not recrall [recall], and furnished that agent with continuing information on the activities of Jim Jones and the Peoples’ Temple. [Dickson] has not mentioned this FBI relationship in any known interview to date.
Airmail copy being furnished Indianapolis for information.
Armed and dangerous.