The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio on November 21, 1978 · Page 47
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The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio · Page 47

Cincinnati, Ohio
Issue Date:
Tuesday, November 21, 1978
Page 47
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.... . -jv - I. f Slil.s!!' - a JONESTOWN COMPOUND appears peaceful in this photo made by photographer Greg Robinson just before he was shot to death. Members of People's Temple watch play that is going on. Photo 78, THE SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER Jones Ian Cult Through Suicide Tactics BY GENE AYRES and LLOYD BOLES San Francisco Examiner BERKELEY, Calif. -The Rev. Jim Jones rehearsed members of his People's Temple cult In suicide tactics for years, disillusioned former followers declared Monday at the Human Freedom Center here. Several former Temple members, with close relatives at the Jonesvllle camp In Guyana, were grief-stricken, convinced that their families and friends probably were dead in the mass self-destruction of hundreds of Jones followers at the camp. "Jim Jones always said, 'If they ever put me, Jim Jones, In jail or If I am killed, we are all to commit suicide, killing children first, making sure they are dead, then killing ourselves,' " recalled Linda Mertle, who broke with the cult a year ago just before she was due to go to Guyana. INSIDE THE center at 3028 Regent St., behind a guard of rifle-carrying police, Mertle and other former hard-core followers of Jones told of years of boot-camp-like discipline Imposed by the charismatic leader, and of threats on their lives since they broke with Jones. Twenty-six-year-old Teresa Cobb, whose three sisters, two brothers and mother are at the Guyana camp, declared reports of mass suicides at the remote camp came as no surprise. "That's the way the Heavenly Father (Jones) had planned it since the beginning." Dana Mills, a member of the family which runs the center, said the cult's "strongarm men" have been terrorizing her father, brother and sister since they "linaiiy woke up" to Jones' "insanity" and quit the temple. Mertle, also a member of the Mills family, added, "A lot of beautiful people died because Jim Jones had pre-ordained this many years ago and we even went so far several times to practice our own suicides." THE FORMER adherents had vivid memories of life with Jones from the time he brought a group of believers. to Northern California from Indianapolis in the late 1960s, until he moved his It tn 9a n Franoisr.0. Teresa Cobb explained why her family Joined Jones in 1969. "The world was in chaos-President Kennedy had been assassinated and later Martin Luther King was assassinated-and Jim Jones espoused everything that my family believed In: integration, brotherly love and a harmonious relationship with one and another." Diana Mills, in the church for five years, said at first Jones "was a grand humananltarlan with genuine concerns for humanity." "Slowly," Mertle recalled, "he trapped us, brainwashed us, to a point where we couldn't leave the church. All of us had signed nanars eavlnflr that We "Will kill the President (of the U.S.)-that we want to kill the President-or that we had stolen a large sum of money from the church or from somebody and we would be ' prosecuted and taken away from the People's Temple. "HE WAS full of kindness and told us he would establish a beautiful Utopia and would take care of all our needs. "But, instead, we found out later that the Heavenly Father s,, ...,.s,!: tp:V-,m!m m '"'"Ilyiit f 'mmf I S- H T from early 1973-testing us with practice suicides. In 1973, when eight people defected from the church in San Francisco, that was the first time he tested us." Johnson said Jones called followers to the San Francisco temple and after they had given him a clenched fist salute, he announced, "We're going to celebrate tonight." "HE BROUGHT In paper cups and poured wine in them," she said. "Some demurred because we didn't like wine. He ordered all of us to drink it. We did and then he said to us, smiling, 'You have Just drunk poison and all of you will be dead In 30 minutes.' " Johnson said a man Jumped up and said he didn't want to die , but was beaten to the floor by two of Jones' "angels-that was what we called his hit men and women." "I beat him, too, because he doubted Jim Jones' word," she added. Another woman who shouted she didn't want to die was shot point blank with a pistol. The shots were blanks. "After he enjoyed the agony of the people, he said that this was Just a test of our loyalty," Johnson said. After the killing of Rep. Leo Ryan of San Mateo and four ' others in Guyana Saturday, the members of Mills' family became even more frightened and appealed to police for protection, said Mills, who Joined People's Temple with her family when she was 10 and stayed five years. Ryan Told Of Group's Feeling APLaserphoto JIM JONES, cult leader, is shown In film shot by cameraman Robert Brown during interview with Don Harris shortly before the NBC employees were killed Saturday. (Jones) intended to rule by force and fear and violence and took a sadistic pleasure in disciplining his flock." Wanda Johnson, a Temple member for four years, was shaken by the thought that her 12-year-old son, Tom Kice II, was taken to the Jungle colony. "I feel they have murdered him," she declared. She said Jones "was always- WASHINGTON (AP)-Rep. Leo Ryan was told before his trip to Guyana that members of the People's Temple felt harassed by American authorities and that further "persecution" might "create a most embarrassing situation for the U.S. government." The warning, from the cults attorney, Mark Lane, prompted Ryan to respond that the threat of embarrassment "does not impress me at all." "If the comment is intended as a threat, I believe It reveals more than may have been Intended," the lawmaker wrote the well-known activist attorney earlier this month. Copies of the exchange of letters between Lane and Ryan were made available by aides to Deprogrammers Get Special Police Guard BY NORM HANNON San Francisco Examiner BERKELEY, Calif.-Berkeley police are giving special protection to members of a Berkeley family who quit the ReV. Jim Jones' People s Tempie in disillusionment and set up a deprogramming center in an old convalescent home here. Members of the family have , been theatened and fear for their lives, they said Sunday night. As they spoke, a special detachment of Berkeley officers was guarding the facility, called the Human Freedom Center. IT WAS set up primarily to help people returning from the People's Temple settlement in Guyana maintain their break with the temple. According to one family mem-ber, Diana Mills, the cult's "strongarm men" have been terrorizing her father, brother and sister since they, "finally woke up" to Jones' "Insanity" and quit the temple. "We spent a long time after that trying to make somebody believe us," she said. "Now all those people are dead and they didn't have to die." After the klUing of Rep. Leo Ryan of San Mateo and four others in Guyana Saturday, the members of Mills' family be came even more frightened and appealed to police for protection, said Miss Mills, who Joined People's Temple with her family when she was 10 and stayed five years. - Miss Mills said her family has been harassed by threatening letters and phone calls. "I think they want to kill us," she said. . ONE MORNING, Miss Mills added, the family woke up to find a threatening letter on the dining-room table. "They had gotten In the house," she said, "so we had to throw out all our food because they might have poisoned It." On another occasion, Miss Mills said, she looked out the window of the house and "eight or nine men were sending in the yard with their hands on guns in holsters I was terrified. "I think he (Jones) was all right when he started out. He was helping the poor and feeding the hungry." But Jones went "Insane" at some point because of "the nnvAr w (rave him." she said. Like others, Miss Mills said she was forced to sign property over to the cult, and said members of the cult were beaten when they broke the church's rules. . "I got to the point where I dld-nt care If I lived or died," Miss Mills said. , 1 v. If - j? Ilk if ill iisiiJiiii lira Followers Smiling Before Death AP Laserphoto MARK LANE, an American lawyer known as a champion of controversial causes, talked to newsmen Monday In Georgetown, Guyana, about his escape from Jonestown Just before the massive slay ings. GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP)-"We are all going to die now," the religious cultist told Mark Lane. "They were smiling," Lane recalled. The next day, 300 to 400 persons were found dead at the camp of the People s Temple in Guyana's tropical wilderness, apparently after taking home-brewed poison. Lane and another American lawyer, Charles Garry, fled through the Jungle Saturday as screams from the camp reverberated in their ears. . "I GOT out as the killing was taking place," Lane said Monday after he arrived in this capital city, 150 miles south-east of the camp. He and Garry had gone to the settlement to counsel the sect's founder, the Rev. Jim Jones, during an Investigative visit there by Repleo J. Ryan of California, where the sect first was based. Leaving the two lawyers In the camp, Ryan's party tried to fly some disenchanted sect members out of the area Saturday, but camp residents ambushed ' them at an airstrip, killing Ryan and four others and wounding 10. Lane said Jones, whose followers reportedly had long considered suicide if they felt the sect was threatened, held a mass meeting Saturday to discuss It. "Jones knew I would speak out against the suicide or the killings at the meeting," Lane said. He said Jones ordered a guard put on nim ana uarry in an area some distance from the meeting. It was not clear whether the 'ambush of Ryan's group had already taken place when the meeting was called, or the camp residents were debating going ahead with the ambush. . . ' - the slain California Democratic congressman. They also released copies of telegrams Ryan sent to Jim Jones, leader of the sect, and John R. Burke, tne u.s. amoas-sador to Guyana, as arrangements were made for the trip. Ryan wired Burke and Jones on November 1, Informing them of his plan to visit the commune Jones and his followers maintain at Jonestown near the Venezualan border. Lane replied five days later for Jones, writing the congressman that "the people of Jonestown have expressed a willingness to care for your needs and the needs of your staff and associates.. . ." I . -' . "I HAD Just prevented a killing of Congressman Ryan, so he sent the man who tried to kill Congressman Ryan to '. act as a guard on Garry and myself. I got the point quickly." Lane was referring to a cultist who had lunged at Ryan with a knife in the camp Saturday. Lane and Garry seized the young man, stabbing him In the process, a survivor from Ryan's party re- ported later. Lane said that guard later was replaced by two other armed men who told him, "We are all going to die now." "And they were smiling," Lane said. "They were not sarcastic. They looked genuinely happy to me. They were very, . very peaceful." He said he told them someone should be spared to report the mass suicide to the outside world, so they allowed him and Garry to escape. LANE AND Garry walked for 24 hours through the Jungle until they reached the airstrip where the ambush had taken place and were rescued by Guyanese officials. Apparently neither man was hurt Living conditions at the camp were , terrible, Lane said "Tnere were large buildings in which thai- umro (inutile hunks that were sepa- rated perhaps by aisles of two feet. They were Just filled by people-elderly people. It looked like a slave ship." 1 Lane, a wen-known attorney wno nas taken on numerous controversial cases, could shed no light on what may have happened to the 500 to 700 residents of the camp, who were not found there by Guyanese troops Sunday. They apparently fled into the surrounding jungle. r ". 1

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