Letters from Congress to State, late November 1977

[Letterhead of Representative Robert B. Duncan (D-OR)]

Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

November 23, 1977

The Honorable Cyrus Vance
Secretary of State
Department of State
2201 C Street
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Mr. Secretary;

A young San Francisco attorney, Margaret Ryan, has brought the case described in the attached clipping to my attention. Ms. Ryan and attorney Jeff Haas represent Timothy and Grace Stone in their effort to recover custody of their 5-year-old son. The son [handwritten insertion “John Stone”] is being held by the Rev. Jim Jones in Guyana.

The Stoens have been awarded custody of the child by a California court. The problem now is convincing the Courts and government of Guyana to enforce the US court order.

The background of the case is exceedingly complex and involves the operation of a religious sect called the “Peoples Temple,” operated by Rev. Jones. My interest in the case stems from my long acquaintance with Jeff Haas’ father in Coos Bay, Oregon, and I don’t pretend to any knowledge of the “Peoples Temple” but I can sympathize with the anguish the Stoens must be feeling as they entrust the fate of their child to the uncertainties of a Guyanese court. I would hope that the US Embassy in Guyana would do all that it can to help. At least I hope you can call this matter to the attention of the proper authorities so that it can be heard and decided, hopefully, on its merits without undue delay.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely yours,
/s/ Robert B. Duncan
Robert B. Duncan
Member of Congress

[Attached: Article by Tim Reiterman, November 19, 1977]


[Letterhead of Representative Phillip Burton (D-CA)]\

November 29, 1977

Mr. Douglas J. Bennett
Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs
US Department of State
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. Bennett:

I draw your attention to the attached letter which I received today, November 29, from Joseph Freitas, District Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco

Pursuant to this letter, and in light of the fact that a court hearing will be held in early December to determine whether the Government of Guyana will comply with the California court order, I strongly urge that the State Department take all necessary and proper steps to ensure that the court proceedings in Guyana are conducted in a fair and proper manner.

/s/ Phillip Burton
Phillip Burton
Member of Congress

[Handwritten addition: “Re: Welfare of John Victor Stoen illegally taken by Rev. Jim Jones to Guyana. From: Joseph Freitas”]


[Letterhead of Representative Don Edwards (D-CA)]

December 2, 1977

Congressional Liaison
Department of State
2201 C Street
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Sir or Madam:

Enclosed is a letter from the District Attorney of San Francisco County regarding an order of the Superior Court in that County relative to a child being held, contrary to the order, by a Rev. Jim Jones in the country of Guyana.

The District Attorney has been ordered by the Court to take all steps to secure enforcement of the order and contacted me for assistance.

Any information, advice or assistance that you may be able to provide the District Attorney would be appreciated.

With kindest regards.

/s/ Don Edwards
Member of Congress

[Handwritten addition: “Re: request return of John Victor Stoen to Grace Lucy Stoen”]


[Letterhead of Representative Leo J. Ryan (D-CA)]

December 8, 1977

Hon. Cyrus Vance
Secretary of State
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. Secretary:

For some time now, I have been aware of the activities of a man in San Francisco who is a natural born United States citizen and refers to himself as the Reverend Jim Jones. In recent years, he has establish what he refers to as “People’s Temple” under the laws of the State of California. In the last year, Mr. Jones and many of those who consider themselves members of his church left with apparent haste and are now in apparent residence in the nation of Guyana.

In connection with that exodus, he took with him several minors. One of those minors is the subject of the enclosed court action.

You will note the concern of the San Francisco District Attorney with regard to this case. Please consider this letter to be a request to investigate what action might be taken in connection with Mr. Jones in regard to his passport or other means to obtain his presence here in this country before courts which may wish to question him.

Sincerely yours,
/s/ Leo J. Ryan
Leo J. Ryan
Member of Congress

Originally posted on June 16th, 2020.

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