Peoples Temple and Kathy Hunter

In mid-May 1978, Kathy Hunter – a freelance reporter and wife of the publisher of the Ukiah Daily Journal – travel to Georgetown, Guyana, extensively to write a story about Jim Jones and the Jonestown project. She returned to California two weeks later with horror stories about her treatment during her stay there, both by the government of Guyana and by members of Peoples Temple. She did not make it out to Jonestown.

Beyond those basic facts, everything about her trip is in dispute.

  • Hunter claimed that she had gone to Guyana at the invitation of Prime Minister Forbes Burnham to write a story about the Temple; the Guyanese government denied that.
  • Members of the Temple claimed that they did not know she was coming, but still they say they invited her to visit the project. She declined, according to the Temple, because Jones himself would not be present; Hunter says she didn’t make the trip because Temple members would not guarantee her a one-on-one interview with the Temple leader.
  • Hunter claimed to have received several intimidating phone calls during her stay at the Pegasus Hotel; the Temple denied ever making such calls.
  • Hunter also changed rooms at the hotel several times – at one point complaining about the expense, at another saying it was because of several suspicious fires during her stay – and likewise the illness which put her under a physician’s care was attributed both to the after-effects of an operation in the States shortly on her trip, and to the alcohol which the Temple says left her inebriated on several occasions.
  • Even her departure from the country was under a cloud. According to the Temple, the government said she had “lied to gain entry into our country” and asked her to leave; Hunter said that it was a matter of her visa expiring during her illness, and that her unseemly expulsion was at the behest of the Temple.

Hunter’s troubles didn’t end following her return to the States. Less than a month later, she reported, both to the local police and to the FBI,  that a window in her house had been smashed, and less than a week later, that two black men broke into the house and forced a bottle of alcoholic beverage down her throat. She also claimed there were more harassing phones calls and physical assaults in the five months that followed – all the way through October 1978, a month before the deaths in Jonestown – and that her family had been threatened as well.

Open Letter To The Media And The Community, June 12, 1978
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Statement Of Mike Prokes To Charles R. Garry, May 30, 1978
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News coverage of Kathy Hunter Trip, May-June 1978
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Beatings, Threats Reported by Woman Who Attempted to Interview the Rev. Jim Jones (Text of article on Mae Brussell website)

Originally posted on January 27th, 2020.

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