Serial 783

United States Department of Justice
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Date: [illegible]
To: Mr. Moore
From: J. O. Ingram

Subject: RYMUR

Mike Abbell, Departmental Attorney, Department of Justice, advised p.m. 11/29/78, that he had just conferred with Phillip Heymann, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, and they were reversing an earlier decision made that no autopsies would be conducted by the Federal Government at Dover, Delaware. The Department now believes that an autopsy should be performed on Reverend Jim Jones, Doctor Larry Schacht, Maria Katsaris, and a random sampling of four others if available. Abell was placed in direct contact with Doctor William R. Cowen [Cowan], Deputy Director, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Dover Air Force Base, who advised that autopsies could be conducted but they would need written requests from the Department of Justice.

Abell contacted me 5:52 p.m., advising that he had discussed this matter with Mary Lawton on the legal basis and legally they have no problems since this would be Foreign Police Cooperation and the Department knows they must conduct some autopsies because of the notoriety of this case and a full pathological examination of at least selected individuals would be desirable. He indicated Reverend Jones, Doctor Schacht, and Katsaris should be the three subjects of autopsies and then four other selected randomly out of the named list. An autopsy on Katsaris should be performed since she was reportedly an aide to Reverend Jones and could have been his mistress, and the fact that she was involved with the Carters over a suitcase of money and may have been shot and killed. Abell has no facts, but this is what the news media is putting out. He indicated he is instructing the FBI to ask the Reverend Jones’ remaining family, Doctor Schacht’s remaining family, and Katsaris’ remaining family to furnish a short statement requesting that an autopsy be conducted. Upon the identification of four bodies selected at random, the FBI should contact the family requesting a written consent for an autopsy.


Memo to Mr. Moore

Abbell advised a.m. 11/30/78, that he has been informed by the Air Force pathologists that they are in receipt of a telegram at Dover Air Force Base from Doctor Schacht’s family in Houston requesting an autopsy; however, this is not sufficient and the FBI will have to contact the family at Houston to obtain a short written statement of consent. Abell knows Jones has an adopted daughter allegedly in the D.C. area, and she should be contacted.

Abbell was requested to promptly submit his request regarding autopsies in writing to the FBI, and he stated he would do so.

Action: Forward teletypes to Houston, confirm with Identification Division regarding bodies of Jones and Katsaris for background on relatives to be contacted, obtain names, addresses, etc. of four bodies selected at random for autopsies, and set forth leads by teletype to obtain authority for autopsies.