Congressional letters in response to Stoen mailgram, January 1978

[Editor’s note: Numerous Senators and Representatives contacted either the State Department and/or the Government of Guyana in response to the January 1978 request of Tim and Grace Stoen for assistance in securing custody of John Victor Stoen. Those congressmen included Sens. Birch Bayh, Clifford Case, Frank Church, Dick Clark, Alan Cranston, Floyd Haskell, Mark Hatfield, Richard Schweiker, John Sparkman, and Lowell Weicker; and to Reps. John Burton, Phillip Burton, Ron Dellums, Robert Duncan, Don Edwards, Paul McCloskey, George Miller, Norman Mineta, Leo Ryan, Timothy Wirth, C.W. Bill Young, and Clement Zablocki, the chairman of the House International Relations Committee.

[While all available letters are included in the pdf, this page includes only the jointly-written letters from Reps. Timothy Wirth and George Miller to the State Department and to Guyana Prime Minister Forbes Burnham. Mr. Wirth was the Colorado congressman representing the district of Tim Stoen’s home address; Mr. Miller was the California congressman representing the district of Grace Stoen’s home address.]

[Letterhead of Rep. Timothy Wirth]

January 24, 1978

Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I am writing to urge you to do all within your power to secure the release of John Victor Stoen, age 6, who is currently being held against his parents’ will on the People’s Temple farm in Guyana.

His parents, Timothy and Grace Stoen, who are both American citizens, have left the church, but were restrained by the other members of the People’s Temple from taking their son with them.

The Stoens are currently obtaining a California court order to regain custody of their son. I am asking for your full support in having the Guyanese government recognized the validity of the court order, and to expedite the return of John Victor Stoen to his parents here in the United States.

I am confident that with your backing this matter can be handled quickly and easily; I’m sure you understand the importance of time when our concern is to reunite a 6-year-old boy restrained in a foreign country with his concerned parents.

I look forward to seeing your swift action in this matter.

With best wishes,

Sincerely yours,
/s/ Timothy E. Wirth
Timothy E. Wirth

/s/ George Miller
George Miller

*****

[Letterhead of Rep. Timothy Wirth]

January 24, 1978

His Excellency L.F.S. Burnham
Prime Minister of Guyana
Georgetown
Guyana

Dear Prime Minister Burnham:

I am writing to urge your cooperation in securing the expeditious release of John Victor Stoen, age 6, from the People’s Temple farm located in your country, so that he may quickly be reunited with his parents.

I appreciate the normal administrative problems you must face in order to have this request accomplished. Still, I ask that you use all the means at your disposal to extradite John’s return to his concerned parents.

Enclosed is a copy of my appeal to Secretary of State Vance. I hope that our two governments will be able to work together, so that John may soon be reunited with his parents.

With best wishes,

Sincerely yours,
/s/ Timothy E. Wirth
Timothy E. Wirth

/s/ George Miller
George Miller

Originally posted on June 16th, 2020.

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