[Editor’s note: This document was released both as a State Department cable as part of its 1981 FOIA release, and as Serial 416 of the FBI’s RYMUR release.
[The text for this document was released in 2014 by the now-defunct Wikileaks website at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978GEORGE03951_d.html. This URL may be available through the Wayback Machine.]
GEORGE 03951 262149Z
INFO OCT-01 ISO-00 SCS-06 CA-01 FBIE-00 JUSE-00 L-03 H-02 CIAE-00 INR-10 NSAE-00 INRE-00 NSCE-00 SS-15 SSO-00 /053 W
——————090538 262153Z /14
O 262130Z NOV 78
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC NIACT IMMEDIATE 8221
UNCLAS GEORGETOWN 3951
E.O. 11652: N/A
TAGS: CDES, UREP, GY
SUBJECT: VERIFYING REMOVAL OF ALL HUMAN REMAINS FROM JONESTOWN SITE
Rev: (a) State 299118 (B) Bushnell/Ward telcon 11/26/78
Following information is keyed to para 2 of reftel (a):
2. Actions taken by U.S. military:
A) Upon arrival at site, the Joint Task Force (JTF) met with national police officials and the commandant of the GDF [Guyana Defense Force] battalion who had arrived at the Jonestown site Sunday night. These officials took the JTF through the area, explained that they had already searched every residence and building, and pointed out the locations of those bodies not among the main group around the central pavilion. These officials also provided the JTF with the first estimated count.
B) The JTF then made their own search, entering every building and covering every inch of terrain.
C) The JTF removed the isolated remains first, before addressing the task of removing those piled around the pavilion.
PAGE 02 GEORGE 03951 262149Z
D) Although the presence of undiscovered bodies would have been obvious from the strong odor alone, the JTF made another complete sweep of all buildings and the area after all bodies had been bagged. Col. William Gordon, USA, advised the ambassador Saturday night that a check prior to final departure of the JTF disclosed no remains or evidence of remains other than the five gravesites previously reported.
3. Actions taken by embassy officers:
A) Consular Officer Richard Martin was at the site Thursday and Friday. During these two visits he combed the area looking for any identifiable personal effects with any value. He entered all of the admin. Buildings in which bodies had initially been discovered, most of the other residences and encountered no human remains.
B) Consular Officer James Ward was at the site on Saturday, November 25, to make an analysis of the existence of any tangible personal estates and the feasibility of securing them. During this exercise he entered all buildings where bodies had been discovered, all administrative structures, including the pavilion, all large dormitories and a number of the small residences. He discovered no human remains. He also observed the loading of the last remains of the transport helicopter.
Burke [John Burke, U.S. Ambassador to Guyana]