Federal Bureau of Investigation
Date of transcription 12/6/78
Charles Eugene Touchette, after being advised of the identity of the interviewing Agents and of the nature of the interview, furnished the following information:
Touchette has been a member of the People’s Temple Christian Church (PT), Redwood Valley, California since approximately 1970. While at the PT Redwood Valley, Touchette was in charge of eleven “Greyhound-type” buses, property of the PT. He was dispatcher, driver, and maintenance man for these buses until approximately 1974.
Touchette was asked by Jim Jones, leader of the PT, to be amongst those PT members to start an agricultural project in Guyana. On July 29, 1974, Touchette, George Philip Blakey, and other PT members landed at Port Kaituma, Guyana for the purpose of initiating the agricultural project later to be known as Jonestown. Touchette has remained in Jonestown since. During the period from July 1974, until approximately summer of 1977, Touchette was the administrator of Jonestown, which entailed managing all aspects of the agricultural project. He stated he would travel to Georgetown about every four weeks for purchasing supplies with [name deleted]. After some time in Jonestown, Touchette acquired a vessel named “Cajoe” [“Cudjoe”] for transportation of equipment and supplies to and from Jonestown. With regards to the vessel “Cajoe”, Touchette advised that on one occasion he traveled to Miami, Florida on business for the PT. While at Miami he asked the United States Post Guard personnel about changing the name of the vessel from “Cajoe” to “Marcelyn” [“Marceline”]. Touchette stated that the PT desired to have the “Cajoe’s” name changed because, at the time, Jonestown was in radio contact with the PT in San Francisco and often referred to the vessel by its name, which coincidentally was an alias used by a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, which was notoriously radical organization in the United States. In view of this, and the fact that the PT had been under “attack” by the Government, news media, and others, the PT saw it fit to attempt to change the name “Cajoe” to “Marcelyn”, in order to avoid any problems which may have arisen from any confusion by a listener.
Touchette advised that the procedure for having the vessel’s name changed with so lengthy, complicated, and time-consuming, that Coast Guard personnel suggested that they not change the vessel’s name, unless it was absolutely necessary. Touchette notified PT members at Jonestown of the foregoing and they recommended that Touchette make no further effort to change the vessel’s name.
Touchette was “project manager” at Jonestown until Jim Jones arrived there during the summer of 1977. After being relieved of his position as “project manager”, Touchette assumed the responsibilities of administration of the machinery department for the Jonestown camp. According to Touchette, he last left Jonestown on October 8, 1978, for Georgetown in the company of 20 to 25 PT members. He departed Georgetown on November 1, 1978, aboard the vessel “Albatross III” en route to Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, to purchase machinery parts for agricultural equipment at the Jonestown project, however, “Albatross III” experienced mechanical difficulties and was forced to return to Georgetown that same day. On November 2, 1978, the vessel was able to depart the Georgetown port en route to Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.
On November 5, 1978, at approximately 3 PM, the “Albatross III” with its crew of eight and five PT members, one of which was also a crew member, arrived at the Port-of-Spain, Trinidad harbor.
Touchette advised that he first heard that Congressman Leo Ryan was to visit Jonestown on approximately November 14, 1978. According to Touchette, he had no knowledge regarding any problems that might occur as a result of Ryan’s visit to Guyana. He personally felt good about Ryan’s visit because he thought this would give the PT good publicity and thereby, counteract some of the negative publicity the PT had received in the United States.
Touchette did not have any knowledge regarding any firearms at Jonestown, except two .12 gauge Remington shotguns which were met by Guyanese authorities when these weapons arrived in Guyana, and escorted to Matthews Ridge
by Guyanese police authorities, where they were turned over to PT members. These weapons were licensed by Guyanese authorities and were used by the PT members for hunting and protection from animals. As far as training was concerned, Touchette only saw PT members training in the use of bows and arrows. PT members were taught how to use bows and arrows by Tom Grubbs, an internationally known archery competitor, who was also a school principal at the Jonestown project.
Touchette stated that he was a member of the Planning Commission (PC) from approximately October, 1973, until June, 1974. He explained that the Planning Commission was a group of PT members who discussed, planned, and evaluated various activities and other matters of PT interest but actually made no decisions concerning these matters. Touchette advised that he has never heard the term “inner circle”, except once in a recent news media account concerning the PT. He advised that the term “staff” was used to refer to a group of PT secretaries who had secretarial responsibilities and administrated different facets of the PT operations. Touchette identified some of these “staff” members as Carolyn Layton, Grace Stoen, Kim [Tim] Stoen, Maria Katsaris, Teri Buford, and Karen Layton.
Concerning any contingency plans by the PT in the event that anything happened to Jim Jones or the PT itself, Touchette stated that he had no knowledge concerning any such contingency plans.
According to Touchette, purchases in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, were to be made by Richard Janaro, Mrs. Helen Swinney and himself, by means of a manager’s check which would be given to Mrs. Swinney in a Barclays Bank in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, where it was transferred to from monies deposited in a bank called either “Royal Canadian Bank” or “Royal Bank of Canada”, Georgetown, Guyana. Other than this information, he had no other knowledge of financial matters concerning the PT. He stated that he stopped being concerned with, or having knowledge of, financial matters once he stopped managing the Jonestown project.
Touchette advised that he has been in Georgetown for a period of three months prior to the departure from Georgetown on board the “Albatross III” on November 2, 1978, with the exception of approximately ten days in Jonestown in early October, 1978.
Touchette could furnish no other information concerning the acquisition of the vessel “Albatross III”. He stated he did not know whether the vessel was owned or leased by the PT.
Eric Clark was identified by Touchette as being a Guyanese attorney who handled matters for the PT in Georgetown, Guyana.
Touchette stated that Jim Jones traveled to the Caribbean island of Grenada in 1977 to meet with the Prime Minister and government officials there. He could not state what the nature of the visit was. However, he knew that the Prime Minister had visited the PT in San Francisco and that [he] allegedly was friendly towards Jim Jones and the PT. Touchette also advised that he knew that Maria Katsaris traveled to Caracas, Venezuela on an unknown date, to obtain quotations on machinery parts for the PT agricultural equipment. Touchette could not state why he was not sent to Caracas to obtain quotations on machinery parts if he was in charge of the machinery aspect of the Jonestown project, instead of Maria Katsaris.
When queried regarding future plans, Touchette advised that he had no definite plans. For the time being he would continue to operate the “Albatross III” commercially, in Caribbean waters, with Richard Janaro and Helen Swinney, until matters concerning the PT and fate of the PT members in Georgetown were resolved. He also stated that he did not have any intentions of returning to the United States in the immediate future.
The following descriptive information was obtained as result of observation and interview:
|Name:||Charles Eugene Touchette|
|Date of Birth:||September 28, 1930|
|Place of Birth:||Indianapolis, Indiana|
|Height:||Five feet seven inches|
|Occupation prior to PT:||Sales engineer for commercial and industrial ventilating and air conditioning systems firm|
|Last address in United States:||Road “B”, Redwood Valley, California.|