Serial 879

[Editor’s note: This document was released both as a State Department cable as part of its 1981 FOIA release, and as Serial 117 and Serial 879 of the FBI’s RYMUR release.

[Although this serial is a duplicate of Serial 117. it releases much more material, and is being treated as the original. The only deletion in this serial was a line of text which was released in Serial 114; it is designated by red type.]

0 202201Z NOV 78
FM SAN JUAN (89-123) (P)
TO DIRECTOR IMMEDIATE
SAN FRANCISCO IMMEDIATE
BT
UNCLAS

Unsubs; U.S. Congressman Leo J. Ryan (deceased) – victim; Congressional Assassination Statute – Conspiracy; Foreign Police Cooperation.

Concerning the Jonestown Guyana incident, Saturday, November 18, 1978, the following individuals are hospitalized at Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, Puerto Rico, after being medevaced from Guyana: 1. Vernon D. Gosney; 2. Anthony S. Katsaris; 3. Beverly Oliver; 4. Howard Oliver.

Also at Roosevelt Roads is Steven A. Katsaris, who was not at the place of the incident, but who had accompanied his son, Anthony, with both went to Guyana to see Marie Katsaris, the elder’s daughter and follower of Jim Jones.

PAGE TWO (89-123) UNCLAS

Medical condition: 1. Vernon D. Gosney – received extensive gunshot wounds and cannot be interviewed at this time; 2. Anthony Katsaris – to be interviewed PM, November 20, 1978, pending medical approval. Received gunshot wounds to chest; 3. Mrs. Beverly Oliver – received gunshot wounds to the feet, has been interviewed and extensive statement furnished; 4. Howard Oliver – suffered a stroke. Was not present at the attack and cannot be interviewed at this time; 5. Steven Katsaris – uninjured. Not present at the attack but in Guyana [deleted line][and has provided extensive background information (revealed at Serial 114)].

The following is a short narrative as furnished by persons interviewed to this point: on November 14, 1978, Congressman Ryan, who was accompanied by staff members, news persons, and a group of “Concerned Relatives” traveled to Georgetown, Guyana. After negotiations between Jim Jones’ attorneys Mark Lane and Charles Gary [Garry] and Ryan’s group, a portion of the group accompanied Ryan on a visit to Jonestown, Guyana on Friday, November 17, 1978.

This group of approximately sixteen people visited the Jonestown camp for a short period Friday evening, departing at

PAGE THREE (89-123) UNCLAS

approximately midnight. They stayed in a guesthouse located at Port Kaituma. Congressman Ryan and the attorneys Lane and Gary spent the night at Jonestown camp.

Other members of the visiting group returned to Jonestown from Port Kaituma Saturday morning, at approximately 10 AM. Two or three hours later the entire group, including Ryan, the newsmen, and members of the “Concerned Relatives” were told by Jones that they had to leave. This party member approximately sixteen. Also accompanying this party were approximately sixteen 16 of Jones’ followers who decided to “defect” and return to the United States with the Ryan party. They were accompanied on a truck from the Jonestown camp to the air strip by three of Jones’ followers.

In route from the camp to the air strip, one of the “defector[s]”, Dale Parkes [Parks], who is leaving Jonestown permanently and accompanied by his entire family, secretly wanted members of the visiting party that one of Jones’ followers, Larry Layton, who indicated that he wanted to leave Jonestown (defect) and return to the United States, should not be believed and was not acting in

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good faith. Parkes warned that Layton should be searched for a weapon insomuch as he was a close associate and fanatic confident of Jim Jones and he, Parker, do not believe that Layton was actually defecting.

On arriving at the air strip at approximately 1 PM, and while waiting for the aircraft to arrive, a tractor arrived unexpectedly bearing approximately four members’ of Jones followers who apparently committed the attack.

One witness, Mrs. Beverly Oliver, was interviewed and identified Ronnie James, known to her for several years as being on the tractor containing the attackers. She also identified Jim [Joe] Wilson, who accompanied the visitors on the truck has been very nervous, upset, and angry at the visitors. Witness has known both of these individuals for a number of years as they were associated with the San Francisco People’s Temple.

Mrs. Oliver entered the airplane, heard shooting outside, and laid down on the rear seat of the small aircraft. She felt pain and knew that she had been shot in the feet. She observed the mother of Dale Parker, who was sitting in front of her to have been shot in the head and apparently killed.

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Mrs. Oliver advised shooting lasted five to ten minutes and after it stopped, she and other individuals left the plane and saw Congressman Ryan and the newsmen who were laying underneath the plane dead at this time. She and others attempted to comfort those that had been wounded.

Fear of additional attempts prompted the survivors to hide in the bushes overnight until government authorities arrived to protect them. Set forth below is a list of persons identified who statements will contribute substantially to this investigation:

1. Dale Parker [Parks] and all surviving members of his family who departed with him. Parker was either transported to Washington, D.C., or San Francisco. No addresses available. Parker can provide identities of all persons involved in the attack as he was a resident of Jonestown; 2. Jim Cobb, member of “Concerned Relatives” who can identify subjects involved as he witnessed attack. Cobb and additional persons arriving at San Francisco 5:30 p.m. this date and will be at the below listed center; 3. Al Mills, also known as Al Myrtle [Mertle], currently located at Human Freedom Center, 3028 Regent Street, Berkeley, California,

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telephone number (415) 848-1773, home telephone 653-8501, former official photographer for People’s Temple, San Francisco, who can furnish photographs of members of the People’s Temple and can aid in the location of Cobb and Parker; 4. Debbie Layton, sister to Larry Layton – prime suspect. She can identify “armed guards” at camp; 5. Bob Flick, NBC producer who is currently being interviewed at San Juan; 6. Tim Reitterman [Reiterman]; San Francisco Examiner; 7. Ron Javers, San Francisco Chronicle, 8. Steve Song [Sung], NBC, Los Angeles. Reitterman, Javers and Song all witnessed attack and/or wounded in the attack); 9. Jackie Spear [Speier], assistant to Congressman Ryan. Was making a list of those persons to board the plane at the time of the attack; 10. James Schollert [Schollaert], assistant to Congressman Ryan.

San Juan is not in possession of addresses of above-mentioned potential witnesses.

The Bureau and San Francisco should advise all agents interviewing previous church members and current church members of this sect that members have been under threat may be reluctant to interview.

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San Juan at Roosevelt Roads Naval Hospital will interview Vernon Gosney and Anthony Katsaris.

Armed and dangerous – suicidal.

BT.

Originally posted on May 5th, 2019.

Last modified on July 29th, 2022.
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