Col. William Cowan Report on Autopsies to Justice Department, April 24, 1979

Report of Armed Forces Institute of Pathology to Justice Department
[Armed Forces Institute of Pathology letterhead]

24 April 1979

Mr. Arthur Norton
General Litigation and Legal Advisory Division
Criminal Division
Department of Justice
Federal Triangle Bldg. – Room 510
315 – 9th Street, N. W.
Washington, D. C.

Dear Sir:

Attached please find the original and one copy of the autopsy report on each of the seven autopsies requested by the FBI and Department of Justice, and performed by members of the AFIP staff on selected Guyana victims.

In general summation, two deaths were due to gunshot wounds to the head at close range and cannot be further refined as to the mode of infliction. In two of the autopsies cyanide was identified, one of the two also having a gunshot wound of the head. Various other drugs in non-lethal amounts were determined. With no other demonstrable cause, coupled with Dr. Mootoo’s (the Medical Examiner for Guyana) demonstration of cyanide in the stomach contents of 65 victims on site, it must be presumed that cyanide poisoning is the mode of death in the other individuals whether through coercion or self ingestion. Cyanide is a very transient drug at best and under the circumstances may have volatilized even without the further complication of embalming prior to toxicology analysis. Extensive efforts to demonstrate cyanide, its byproducts or expected compound as a result of interaction with embalming fluid, were to no avail in a definitive cause of death.

Requests have been received from the next of kin for copies of the autopsy reports on Marie [Maria] Katsaris and the two sisters, Ann Elizabeth Moore and Carolyn (Moore) Layton. Copies of the requests are attached. With special reference to the Moore request, 1. and 2. are accomplished. No. 3 is part of the permanent record with our file and FBI. No. 4 – no tapes were made during the procedure and the autopsy report constitutes the only document. Mr. Bruce Dozier of the Department of State also requests an information copy for their files.

The AFIP will refer any future requests to your office. We would

[Page 2]

recommend that, in consideration of the remaining families, the dissemination of this information, except in the general form alluded to in previous paragraphs, be very limited.

/William R. Cowan/
William R. Cowan
Colonel, USAF, MC
Deputy Director

[Page 3]

[Letter on letterhead of First United Methodist Church, Reno, NV]

December 7, 1978

We request and authorize the physician in attendance at the Dover Air Force Base, Dover, Delaware, to perform a complete autopsy on the remains of Carolyn Moore Layton, and Ann E. Moore. We understand that a complete autopsy may include an examination of the head, eyes, spinal cord, chest, abdomen, and extremities. We authorize removal and retention or use for diagnostic, scientific or therapeutic purpose of such organs, tissues, and parts as such physicians deem proper.

We withdraw our request for the presence of an independent pathologist during the autopsies.

We represent that we are the parents of Carolyn Moore Layton, and Ann E. Moore, legal next of kin of the deceased and entitled by law to control the disposition of the remains.

A list of conditions of the autopsies is attached.

/Barbara C. Moore/
Barbara C. Moore

/John V Moore/
John V Moore

[Page 4]

[Letter on letterhead of First United Methodist Church, Reno, NV]

December 7, 1978

Conditions for granting permission and authorization for autopsies for Carolyn Moore Layton, and Ann E. Moore

1. A written report of the pathologists’ autopsies shall be given us.
2. The report shall state how the identifications were made of Carolyn Moore Layton and Ann E. Moore, and what records were used in making these identifications.
3. When the reports are released, they shall include all records used in identification
4. If a tape is made during the autopsies, we shall have access to the tape.

/Barbara C. Moore/
Barbara C. Moore

/John V Moore/
John V Moore

[Page 5]

[Letter on letterhead of Trinity School for Children, Ukiah, California]

January 5, 1979

Colonel William R. Cowan
Deputy Director
Armed Forces Institute of Pathology
Washington, D. C. 20306

Dear Colonel Cowan:

I am the father of Maria S. Katsaris who died in Jonestown, Guyana on November 18, 1979. Pursuant to our telephone conversation of January 4, 1979 I am requesting a copy of the findings of the autopsy performed on her.

I understand this will be available in about one month and express to you my appreciation for your help.

/Steven A. Katsaris/
Steven A. Katsaris

[Page 6]

April 27, 1979

This certifies that on the above date, Supervisor [name deleted], FBI Headquarters, delivered two copies of autopsy reports prepared by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology for the remains of Carolyn Moore Layton and Ann E. Moore to me.

/Fielding M. McGehee III/
Fielding M. McGehee III