Season 1 – The Chronicles of Jonestown
Episode 1 – The Man Behind Guyana’s Mass Suicide – Massacre
By Wayne Lyttle
WARNING: This article contains explicit information and details. Some readers may also find such details disturbing. Readers are appropriately informed, cautioned.
Kaieteur News – In this series we’ll be investigating one of the country’s most horrific Mass-Suicide instances: The Massacre in Jonestown.
In the middle of Guyana’s dense jungles, an abominable tragedy had taken nearly 1,000 lives. It was a Mass Suicide – Massacre involving believers following the orders of their beloved Cult Leader, Jim Jones.
They all drank a lethal dose of potassium cyanide, mixed into a vat of punch sealing their fate. Some members of the remote community were even shot to death, sending shock waves through every corner of the world, as Reporters broke this devastating news.
A country which the world was not too familiar with prior to what will always be embedded in the hearts and minds of Americans, Guyanese and possibly others around the world, was thrust into the spotlight. This is the essence of the Jonestown Massacre.
Our investigation revealed that what was committed by Jim Jones is referred to as a revolutionary suicide (III). It was the largest death toll in American history, not caused by a natural disaster, until the 9/11 bombings.
In the chaos of the aftermath, the mass suicide was caused by Jim Jone’s actions. His need to have control, and the vulnerability and trust of his followers, could also be variables that contributed to the harrowing demise of the settlement.
What happened in this South American Jungle?
The world called it Kool-Aid, but it was in fact the cheaper knockoff, Fla-Vor-Aid.
As Mothers and Fathers gave the deadly drink to their children and then drank it themselves- they screamed and their bodies trembled as they fell to the jungle’s floor. Within minutes on November 18, 1978, the final death toll was estimated to be 943, and included Jim Jones and almost 300 children.
To this day, people want to know who was Jim Jones?
This horror raises many questions, TWLI I-Unit needed to examine this heinous crime committed and probed for new data into the Jonestown Massacre, as the I-Unit take a deep dive into this mass-suicide led by a self-professed Faith Healer, and reverent American Cult Leader, Jim Jones. The man who promised his followers a communalist utopia, multi-racial paradise, a new home, far from the many troubles, they faced from racial tension in the United States, proclaiming himself ‘Messiah of the People’s Temple’.
The investigation takes a strange turn, which revealed that his followers were the rich, middle and lower class that he slaughtered in Jonestown; he had no interest in taking responsibility for their bloodless kills.
Little did they know what horrors awaited them, and the even darker truths to come.
All of this would shatter their dreams of the new world promised.
This was Guyana’s first mass-suicide which occurred over four decades ago. This catastrophic event marks one of the darkest days in Guyana’s history, as Jonestown became hell on earth- a savage killing ground.
Pulling the curtains back, we see inside and reveal the monster hidden in plain sight.
On December 20, 1926, in Gibson, Indiana, Lynetta Putnam wed James Thurman Jones, a disabled World War I veteran, who suffered from severe breathing difficulties due to injuries that he sustained from a chemical weapons attack. Despite this, the couple welcomed their only child, James Warren Jones, in the rural community of Crete, Indiana on May 13, 1931.
Jones went by the nickname of Jimmy during his youth, he was of Irish and Welsh descent. He and his mother both claimed partial Cherokee ancestry-Native North American Indians. But there is no evidence of such.
Leading down into our investigation – economic hardship had devastating effects on the Jones’ household, even leading to many marital issues. In 1934, the Jones family was evicted from their home for failure to make mortgage payments. A shack was purchased for them by relatives to live in, in the nearby town of Lynn. The new home, where Jimmy grew up, lacked even the basics of plumbing and electricity and they struggled just to meet their daily needs.
The family attempted to earn an income through farming, but was met with failure when Jones’s father’s health further deteriorated. Lacking adequate food, sometimes they resorted to scavenging in nearby forests and fields to supplement their diet, relying on financial support from their extended family just to get by.
Dark days flooded young Jimmy’s childhood.
The I-Unit discovered that according to multiple Jim Jone’s Biographers, Lynetta had ‘no natural maternal instincts’ and as a result, she frequently neglected Jimmy. When her son started to attend school, his extended family threatened to cut off their financial assistance unless Lynetta got a job, which forced her to work outside her home.
Meanwhile, Jones’s father James was hospitalized multiple times due to his illness. Jones’ parents were frequently absent during his childhood, leaving him to be cared for by neighbors and relatives. Jimmy’s childhood wasn’t ideal for any young lad, dealing with absent parents, and lacking food, this was just the beginning.
As a youth, he took the path of becoming a regular churchgoer.
The wife of a Nazarene Church Pastor, Myrtle Kennedy, developed a special attachment toward young Jimmy.
Myrtle gifted Jimmy a Bible, teaching him to follow the holiness code of the Nazarene Church and encouraging him to study it.
As Jimmy grew older, he attended multiple church services each week in Lynn, and he was baptized in several of them.
During this period, young Jimmy developed a desire to become a Preacher and he began to practice preaching in private.
His mother, Lynetta claimed that she was disturbed when he was caught imitating the Pastor of the local Apostolic Pentecostal Church, and she attempted to prevent him from attending the church services further, but was unsuccessful.
Although they had sympathy for Jimmy because of his poor circumstances, neighbors reported that he was an unusual child, who was obsessed with religion and death. His strange religious practices stood out, misbehaving in more serious ways, frequently stealing candy from merchants, regularly using profane language , and commonly greeting his friends and neighbors by saying, “Good morning, you son of a bit*h” or, “Hello, you dirty bastard”.
One of Jone’s Biographers suggested that Jones was forced to develop his unusual interests because he found it difficult to make friends.
This investigation pointed out that with an intense interest in religion, social doctrines, and different political systems, Jones became a ravenous reader, spending hours in the community Library studying Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Karl Marx, Mao Zedong, and Mahatma Gandhi, even bringing the books home so he could read them in the evenings. Jones, however, did not adopt any radical political views in his youth.
Commenting on his childhood, Jones stated, “I was ready to kill by the end of the third grade. I mean, I was so aggressive and hostile, I was ready to kill. Nobody gave me love, any understanding. In those days a parent was supposed to go with a child to school functions. There was some kind of school performance, and everybody’s parent was there but mine. I’m standing there, alone. Always was alone.”
Jones’s attraction to religion was strongly influenced by his desire for a family – Tom Reiterman
Racial oppression escalated across the United States.
Jones’s parents separated in 1945 and they eventually divorced, losing the financial support of their relatives, he then moved to Richmond, Indiana with his mother, where he graduated from Richmond High School in December of 1948.
In high school, Jones stood out from his peers. He almost always carried his bible with him.
His religious views alienated him from other young people. Frequently he confronted them for drinking beers, smoking, and even dancing.
At a baseball game in Richmond, Indiana, Jones was bothered by the treatment of African Americans. The events at that game brought discrimination against African Americans to Jones’s attention and influenced his strong aversion to racism.
To support himself, Jones began working as an Orderly at Richmond’s Reid Hospital in 1946. Jones was well-regarded by the Senior Management, but staff members later recalled that he exhibited disturbing behaviors towards some patients and even co-workers. Jones began dating a nurse-in-training named Marceline Baldwin.
In November 1948 Jones moved to Bloomington, Indiana. There he attended Indiana University with the intention of becoming a Doctor, but changed his mind shortly after.
During his time at the University, Jones heard Eleanor Roosevelt’s speech about the plight of African-Americans; and he was impressed. Here he began to advocate support for communism and other radical political views for the first time.
Jones and Marceline’s relationship continued while he attended college, and the couple married on June 12, 1949, in Wayne’s County, Indiana. Their first home was in Bloomington Indiana. Jones was actually her third cousin, although it is unknown if they knew this.
The following year, Jones graduated from a pastoral correspondence course.
Marceline was a Methodist, and the newlyweds immediately fell into arguments due to Jones’s strong opposition to the Methodist church’s racial segregationist practices, which put an early strain on their marriage.
He insisted on attending Bloomington’s Full Gospel Tabernacle, but eventually compromised and began attending a local Methodist church on most Sunday mornings. Despite attending churches every week, Jones privately pressed his wife Marceline to accept atheism.
After attending Indiana University for 2 years, the couple relocated to Indianapolis in 1951. It was around this time that 20-year-old Jones began attending gatherings of the Communist Party, USA.
He continued his education at Butler University, where he took night classes.
Jones and his family faced harassment from Government Officials for their affiliation with the Communist Party in 1952.
In one event, Jones’ mother was harassed by FBI agents in front of her co-workers because she had attended a Communist meeting with her son.
Frustrations arise with the persecution of Communists in the United States.
Jones said that he asked himself, “How can I demonstrate my Marxism? The thought was, infiltrate the church.”
Due to Marceline’s health issues, the couple only had one biological child, but they adopted several children of various races, which they called their “Rainbow Family.”
In 1960, they became the first white family in Indiana to adopt a black child. His family was designed to mirror his perception of what the world should be like.
Join us on the next episode of The Chronicles of Jonestown.
We love hearing untold real-life stories from our readers, just like the one you’ve read in today’s episode.
If you or someone you know, have had a similar unsettling encounter that you would like to share, please reach out to us to set up an interview that could be featured in an episode on The Wayne Lyttle Investigative Report. You can contact us on +592-685-1770 or email us [email protected]
As always, be sure to hit the like button, subscribe, and follow us on Facebook.
The documentary film will premier live on Sunday December 4, 2022 @5pm on The Wayne Lyttle Investigative Report Social Media Platforms || SpotLight Newsroom Platform || HGP TV Channel 16 / Cable 67 || Guyanese Critic Platform.
The podcast version will be streaming on SoundCloud, Anchor, Spreaker and PodBean.
VP Jagdeo words exposing him
Feb 07, 2023SportsMax – A maiden Test double hundred from Tagenarine Chanderpaul and a 12th Test century from captain Kraigg Brathwaite have put the West Indies in an excellent position after day three of...
Feb 07, 2023
Feb 07, 2023
Feb 07, 2023
Feb 07, 2023
Feb 07, 2023
Kaieteur News – The suggestion that rice and gold are sectors that are in crisis is a fear-mongering tactic. While... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – (The writer is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States of America... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]