Teri Buford Note to Jim Jones

Teri Buford Leaves Peoples Temple

Jean [Brown]:

from Teri

Enclosed is a note to Jim – this is a matter that we have discussed before and basically the decision was left to me. A lot of it was hinging on JJ’s health and that was the deciding factor in all of this. If the other side gets wind of what I have in mind – it will completely blow it. And any information gotten would be risky as hell. So please do the following:

  1. Tell people I just got a phone patch from down there and had to make some immediate changes in banking. I left immediately.
  2. As far as what to tell JJ – he has a good idea of this already so all you need to say if you say anything at all on the radio – “Darren or Carrie has taken up the assignment that was once given to Thomas.” – But really I don’t trust the radio so you can use your own discretion. I would just as soon people over there thought I split and then there would be no danger of a leak – however if JJ thought so he might get sicker so I don’t know. Maybe just pass the message to him alone in the room later in the evening when he is up on the project and just asked to have him in the room. Or just him and Julia [unknown code name] – I wouldn’t throw it any further because Julia knows about this also – outside of Julia and Jim this has not been talked about.
  3. As far as [Mark] Lane and [Don] Freed go, they were told in Guyana that I was only coming back for a few weeks while you were in Guyana and that I would be returning when you return so all they need to know is that I went to Guyana. They will never check it out and I don’t plan to be vocal so they won’t be hearing anything from me one way or the other in terms of the press or anything like that. When they go to Guyana once again you can just say I am out of the country taking care of the finances – I don’t know. I would not think it wise to discuss what I am doing with them, especially on the phone, for reason that they are taped and probably we are too. [Charles] Garry is used to me leaving for Guyana, so it should be no problem for him.
  4. From time to time, as soon as I find something out, I will be getting messages to you somehow – so keep your ear open for anything unusual and read things that may seem routine carefully before throwing them out.

The enclosed note is for Jim. If you want to read it, then it is your right. I have written nothing you are not privy to already. Basically it states why this is happening now. I have discussed this with Jim many times and I guess it is time to shit or get off the pot, so that is what is happening. I will be checking the Chron [Chronicle] and Examiner daily – to see what’s happening and also will keep on top of the court cases so I will know what is going on and I don’t be doing something stupid at the precise wrong moment.

If I find I can’t learn anything from the folks I will be back – as soon as I am sure that nothing is to be accomplished. My reasoning is all layed [laid] out in the letter to JJ and further – it was explained in detail in Guyana. My keys are in your freezer, no one but JJ should know about this, please do not discuss it. Of course Tom [likely code] sill [will] figure it out, but no one else, please.


please do be careful about radio communications



To: Jim

From: Teri

As you know by several letters I have written to you in the past few months – I am extremely upset with one the state of your health and two our inability to expose the other side. Although things seem to be getting better there is still something going on – which allows for people to get hold of such people as that radio operator just a short time before Lane and it goes on and on. It is clear to me that there is a very orchestrated movement against us – and frankly they are doing such a good job of it that – it may be never that we get to the bottom of it. At least that is my feeling. I don’t know how much longer you are going to live. I heard you on the phone patch the other night and you could barely get out the words. I asked Tom to pass a message asking how you were as per your instructions and Tom said “why should I he is obviously critically ill – anyone listening to him can tell that”. I passed a message the other night about something that would really be to be expected from the National Inquirer and you went into a full-fledged attack. Leona [Collier] told me that you had three before she left. I keep getting messages on the radio Robert is very sick [half line crossed out]. I know that no one would be making this up because I made it quite clear when I left you that I was going to be making a lot of decisions based on the state of your health. So time is short. Sorry to say life hasn’t been more pleasant than a continual hell of demands and demands and demands.

Despite what others may say about our collective paranoia – I am convinced of the efforts against us – I heard them talking under the house – I heard Dennis Banks first hand – I know that the AG wouldn’t be moving in your direction if [Tim] Stoen wasn’t pushing behind him. These things that others may view as contrived I know as fact because I experienced them first hand.

I believe strongly in peoples temple and the people that are trying to make it work. With all of our faults (and I believe we have many) it is still the most decent place in the world – without question. Naturally, I have my conflicts as I am sure you have yours but none of them are insurmountable and I believe I have faced just about every personal conflict in regards to you that a person is able to have – and I feel that my respect for you is not based on any illusions of trust or personal love because I know quite well that is not the case – I don’t expect it and it doesn’t bother me. From time to time I get [typed word is typo, either “respectful” or “resentful”] of those who have children when I gave mine up – but I should have been more firm about what I wanted at the time – so you are not to blame for whatever grief I may feel there. And I know practically that I did the right thing. All I am trying to say is I don’t feel that I can be shaken at this point by anything that anyone says or does because I think at this point I have faced the brute facts of life and have no illusions about much. I know you have talked about me to many. I know that you talked about me to Debbie [Layton Blakey] as I read a note that referred that a conversation that you all had – so I am braced for that and nothing she can say at this point could be anything worse than what I already think. And I am old enough to know that you take us all on our own merit one day at a time – action by action so I don’t care what happened a year ago or so.

At this point I find my self in a very odd situation. That is – that a lot of the stuff that the church is presently in trouble for – I organized – did and carried out. If you wanted to call me a provocateur it would get the church most neatly off the hook. I would not sue. I have discussed this with you before and you also felt that it would work. Naturally I hope it doesn’t come to that – but I am willing to take that if that is what it will take. I would like to see the stage set so that you all could go to Russia – I think that there will be safety for the people there in the event of your death and also in terms of survival and lot of [last line partially cut off] single leader and I know you would like to


just get out of that role for a while. I feel and strongly believe that at this point there are only two people that the conspiracy would even consider talking to after Debbie. Who needs to talk to others after they have talked to Debbie – everyone else has less information. So the only two people who have more are myself and Carolyn [Layton]. Carolyn is obviously not credible because of Kimo [Jim Jon Prokes] and it would be cruel to Kimo to think that his mother was an agent-provocateur all his life. My case – although – I am sure all will be cynical – is more credible – I have taken the most radical positions of anyone in the group (which some say is the first indicator of an agent-provocateur) – having lost several children and for a period of time – thinking myself “in love with you” – these would be a personal motive on my part from a feeling of rejection that Carolyn would not have – or perhaps the feeling that you wanted Kimo and not mine – a lack of rationales that would be credible come into play. Also – as of this week – I signed the last bit of finances out of my name – Marcie [Marceline Jones] is mailing one en route and the other I sent down to Carolyn to get signed and done with. So from this point on I am completely out of the money and have no control thereof – whereas Carolyn it is not yet in that position. Frankly – if I don’t fuck up and get myself in a lot of trouble there is a possibility that Stoen in particular would be quite interested in cultivating a working relationship – given he came to me and not me to him. (I know that this whole idea seems crazy and radical but then again when someone is dying what choices are there –)

I really want to be in a position to pass relevant information to you through a disinterested third party and then you can use that to catch Stoen. This I know will take some time and I am not expecting miracles or even for it to work at this point. If things get out of hand – well – you can call me every name in the book. The person that organized all the illegal activities at PT – on the other side – it will be obvious to all that I am an agent. I will try to stick to some guidelines and get messages to you from time to time but I will stick to the basic frame work. 1. of trying to get information. 2. if step one doesn’t work I will consider taking the tactic that I wrote to you about – that is of speaking out against – but I don’t know if I am able to pull that off without going completely mad. 3. the would only the [that would only be] a final thing – If I had really blown it and that is the final solution that I wrote to you about and said was able to be done without flaw. You could use it for whatever – but I would naturally hold off on any such final solutions in that I don’t know what the effect would be on you – until I was sure that all other avenues were closed. (also – if things started to go better for the temple on its own or you all got to Russia – I would feel free to abandon the whole idea.)

I am very aware of the emotional consequences of such an act. The paranoia. The feeling that no one ever trusts the person who plays both sides. But how else are you going to find out anything – court orders – hardly. I feel given your health and personal demands on you in addition to this mess – that we are in a state of complete crisis. I realize also that there are many in the group who will always consider me a traitor and I do think that I don’t care what they think anymore. You know better and the only other person I have had any personal feeling for outside of children is Dianne. I have never been involved sexually with Dianne [could be Wilkinson] but I do have an emotional attachment for her but if I can take your disgust I can certainly take hers. She’s just been accepting of me as a person and I have always appreciated that. That’s all nothing more nothing less.

I also wanted to clarify one thing also. I noticed that Jean Brown wrote me up for having Jim Randolph go through the money with me while Jean was gone – but I know organizationally that was stupid – but I have been planning this move for months and I didn’t want any slip ups in the counting of the money and that is why I also gave the other books to Paula [Adams] so in the major cash and the petty cash someone else had the count on the money – so as to prove the I did not take one cent of black peoples money for this. I am going to try to do this without stealing from the church. So on the surface it looks stupid – but every cent of money is accounted for and as far as the international accounts – they are all out of my name now.


Another factor in this whole mess is the fact that I know you are exceedingly anxious about a number of situations none of which we have been able to get any information in despite the fact that we have sent Lane to Florida – have Garry calling the DA four times a day – numerous diversions all coming to nothing. Daily on the radio are desperate pleas to find something out and I don’t know what to do. I am frustrated beyond all believe [belief]. I have run out of ways to find the information. [I] Have no one that would be willing to sell the information. Can’t even find Debbie Blakey in this little city. It is just upsetting – very much so to hear people begging – saying that you would feel so much better if you just knew thus and so and our being completely unable to produce anything. Maybe because we can’t come up with anything – it is assumed that we don’t care but the fact is I don’t know how Jean feels and I try to keep it light joking about kidnapping the DA and beating the information out of him but the only way I can see to get this information it is to get it from the other side. Maybe this won’t work. But I get the feeling from the people on the radio that they are desperate for anything to make you feel better. The two minutes I talked to Harriet [Tropp] the other night she sounded utterly depressed completely unlike Harriet. So it all boils down to – do I have the nerve enough to do this – to be like if it is successful but to be classified as an ass and maybe worse traitor by the whole group if I don’t succeed which is probably the case – can I take that kind of group sanction. I guess the question no longer comes to can I take the group hatred but moreover can I live with myself if I don’t do everything possible knowing the condition of your health, hearing daily begging, and not respond. Naturally you will never tell anyone to take risks. Frankly this is less risky than other endeavors. – I really have nothing more to say other than I [am] terribly depressed by all of this – I am afraid that I will fail – I can’t stand daily asking on the radio and being able to produce nothing – knowing that the lives and survival of people depends on your survival because right now the organization will not stand without you and we would have mahen [mayhem]. And as I said before – please don’t interfere because I want to do this right and if I don’t get a chance to prove myself – then I will forever be paranoid.

Also I am enclosing several declarations that I wrote that will have me thrown in jail and Tim Stoen too anytime you want to show them to the authorities – so you have complete control – anytime you want me out of the picture – you have my signed thing that will get both me and Tim. This is to show you that I am leaving my life in your hands. I don’t know what else to do to prove my intentions.


I know that this is nothing less than a major move and I know also that you will have massive conferences discussing my loyalty and I just think it is time that something get done. I know I can take it and I don’t know that others can. I don’t claim to be without hostility – but I don’t feel that my hostility is organizationally destructive – unlike some who claim no hostility and are more destructive than those of us who own up to conflicts. And some of this may be cop-out-itus – that is not wanting to watch you die – not wanting to watch Mrs. Thompson [likely code] smother you to death – I must admit that I have seen a terrible deterioration in your health since her return. That kind of shit makes me hostile. But I think that it is absolutely characterless for people to speak out against a belief and an organization on the basis of personal likes or dislikes.

I guess the deciding factor in this is that I would never be able to live with myself if something happened to you and I was not able to have done something that I thought was right to help. Obviously however they have been playing on people has been quite an effective technique – but I can only say that it won’t be the same in my case. If I waited for you to instruct this – it would never happen for one consideration or another. Also I fully realize that if the other side figures out what I am up to – then I will be in serious trouble in [and] probably do a lot of time in jail on a lot of things. I know the consequences of this. I also know that if you try to interfere that you will just have a suicide – at any point – be it now – be it jail – whatever – I will just go into the final stage of the plan which may not be necessary at all and finish it off. I hate to put it that way but if this is the last thing I do in life I would like to do it right. Please remember that I was gone for 6 months out of the country last year and months and months the year before that by myself handling the finances and that was really not much different in terms of risks. I can also assure you that I won’t be going after any finances – had I wanted money I have had ample access at all times – and I don’t care about money – so you can send CL [Carolyn Layton] and Maria [Katsaris] on a trip if you feel it necessary against me – but I think I have well proven that I don’t care. Further – you know how I feel about who can be trusted in that area. Venie [may be code] only.

Please don’t put anything over the radio on this – or I will be getting all sorts of no good information because they will have figured me out.

Another motivation for doing this – is that little we are doing is effective. Lane’s work has had the best response I have seen as far as community pull and with the exception of Garry the response has been good. But take Sunday for an example. We had meetings and counseling from 9 am in the morning till 10 at night. I started my work at ten PM after listening to problem after problem after problem. When are people ever going to grow up and stand on their own two feet. I don’t know.

I will enclose some papers to show my good faith. I took a stand against soten [Stoen] in the law suit and have him very pissed off at me at this point so this whole thing is going to be tough but it might in fact make it more realistic. Because somehow he would not think that a person that just attacked him the hardest would be out to infiltrate. At least that is my opinion. But he may be so mad that won’t make any difference. I don’t know how it would go.

I don’t know what else to say. I believe what I am doing is right. I can only go on what I am hearing on the radio – but you are sounding worse and you were in terrible shape when I left. I am sorry to worry you – but I don’t think that anyone else would be workable or credible at this point. I know you will keep an eye on Dietrich [Porter] and I don’t care if everyone else thinks I am horrid – they already do anyway –

Respectfully – as always


PS the only way I will ever feel trusted in the organization again is if I succeed [last line cut off]