JONESTOWN MASSACRE: The Unrevealed Story by Jeff A. Schnepper
Date: March 10, 2009 02:13PM
JONESTOWN MASSACRE: The Unrevealed Story
Jan, 1999 by Jeff A. Schnepper
The testimony of Rev. Jim Jones' mistress opens a Pandora's box of sex, lies, drugs, politics, and murder.
IN NOVEMBER, 1978, the world was stunned by dramatic pictures and stories about Rev. Jim Jones and the mass suicide of hundreds of people in Jonestown, Guyana. While the deaths were real, the stories were fabrications created to cover up the theft of more than $26,000,000, planned mass murder (not suicide), and the fiscal rape of the treasury of San Francisco by corrupt politicians.
Jones' second in command, Teresa Buford, was a survivor of the massacre. Her confession, revealing the true nature of what happened, details Jones' blueprint for creating his own nation, funded by U.S. taxpayers' dollars stolen as part of San Francisco's corrupt political system. Buford's allegations have been supported by Charles Garry, Jones' first lawyer, eight boxes of notes and correspondence found by The New York Times, and newly unsealed records turned over to the California Historical Society. In my research, all discrepancies between what she alleged and what was reported in 1978 have been resolved by independent documentation supporting her position. I believe Buford. This is her story.
Terri Buford was Jones' mistress and financial manager of the Peoples Temple in California. The daughter of a former naval commander and spy, Buford reveals the mind control and brainwashing techniques used by Jones and his followers to manage the members of the Peoples Temple. That was just the beginning, however. Jones' objective was power. Using the Temple as a base, he manipulated its members to vote for and support local California candidates. Membership in Jones' church reached 20,000 in California by the early 1970s and his church had 13 buses used to transport large groups on short notice to any political rally or demonstration he supported. In the successful 1975 San Francisco mayoral campaign of George Moscone, Temple members went from precinct to precinct, voting over and over. Officials at the polling places never confiscated the voters' yellow registration forms. There were more votes cast than registered voters. When Moscone's opponent, John Barbagelata, complained about voter fraud, Jones sent him a box of candy with a bomb. Though the bomb misfired, Barbagelata muffled his complaints.
Four hundred voter registration books disappeared and never were recovered, as the entire voting list of the 1975 election vanished without a trace. Timothy Stoen, then Jones' righthand man, was moved from Ukiah, Calif., to San Francisco as Assistant District Attorney and put in charge of the Voter Fraud Unit. In effect, the prosecutors were responsible for investigating themselves. The 1975 fraud resulted in not one conviction.
Those government officials he could not influence with his ballot power, Jones owned through drugs and blackmail. Buford was the head of Jones' "diversions" unit, formed specifically to blackmail politicians whose sexual activity was photographed or tape recorded. Allies were rewarded handsomely with financial and sexual favors. Millions of dollars then were stolen from the government of San Francisco by Jones and the Temple through the scheme of signing up adopted children for government benefits endorsed by politicians elected with phony balloting in rigged elections. These benefits were paid to the Temple by politicians empowered and owned by Jones. The children were put on the streets with $100-a-day quotas to be met by begging or suffer severe beatings for their failure.
Temple staff members were placed in key positions in the government to ensure the continued flood of new money. In Ukiah, Jones-controlled workers served in the Department of Social Services, Juvenile Hall, the Public Health Department, and the Offices of County Government. In effect, the entire local government was on Jones' payroll. In San Francisco, Jones himself was rewarded with the job of heading the city's Housing Authority.
Jones arranged free government housing for his Temple members. Properties that were in tax delinquency as well as repossessed, foreclosed, Veterans Administration, and HUD homes were kept apart from the city's public auction block and diverted to the Peoples Temple's holdings. Through Jones' Housing Authority position, he and his staff amassed a huge fortune in city properties, all considered tax-exempt due to the religious classification the Temple enjoyed. Jones was attempting to create a pseudo-religious empire modeled on the merger of religion and politics.
San Francisco Mayor Moscone and politician Harvey Milk were murdered in 1978, nine days after Jones' death. Temple member Bonnie Malman had been sent by Jones to have sex with Moscone long before he was mayor. She became his secret lover and a spy for Jones. Milk originally had been a Temple supporter who had been involved with Buford in the many sordid sex schemes involving California politicians. He saw Guyana as an experiment that "didn't work." Milk disassociated himself from the Temple and believed that Jonestown political forces were plotting his death to silence him. He was right.
Both were killed by Dan White, who was sentenced to five years for the murders. White's alleged motive was his concern that Moscone would not rehire him for his supervisory post. Why, then, had White resigned voluntarily from his City Hall position just a few days before the murder? His resignation took place on the same day that Rep. Leo Ryan (D.-Calif.) announced that he was going to Jonestown to investigate alleged abuses there. Ryan was killed at Jonestown.
Seven weeks after White's release from prison, he was found dead in his car. His death, labeled a suicide, never was investigated fully. When confronted by White's friends who unanimously declared him "not capable of committing suicide," the San Francisco police chief responded, "Draw your own conclusions."
Jones had come to Guyana to build a city and take over a country, but things went horribly wrong. Jones' drug use escalated out of control. Under his direction, Terri Buford was sent to Paris and Zurich with suitcases full of money. Buford put the money in accounts under her own name--$26,000,000 worth of deposits. This was money stolen from the governments in California and from Temple members themselves. Jones had collected welfare or Social Security payments for Temple members, even those who already had died. Hospital records and obituary columns were searched for the recently deceased, then credit cards and benefits were applied for in their names.
Jonestown had a population of about 900, out of which almost 300 were children. Jones created a cadre of killers, his personal armed guard. Totally loyal to him, culled from the desperately poor, the exploited, the foster children, and those forcibly abducted from the U.S., they were trained to commit murder without conscience. In the jungle, these armed guards surrounded the compound on the final fateful day.
They were armed with semi-automatic weapons, shotguns, and cross-bows. People don't use arrows to commit suicide. According to Buford, and supported by private investigator Louis Gurvich, at least two-thirds of the people had been murdered. It was not a mass suicide, but a mass murder inspired by Jones and his followers to steal the hidden millions deposited in Europe. Jones was supposed to have committed suicide with his followers. Why, then, was the gun that killed him found more than 60 feet from his corpse? In fact, according to Buford, Jones was killed by Michael Prokes, a former bodyguard who had been Buford's lover prior to her leaving him for the cult leader. Jones was supposed to escape in a special helicopter waiting for him and his guards in the jungle. He never made it.
Jones believed that the deaths, framed as suicides, never would be followed up since no one is tried for a suicide. The public bought the suicide story because survivors feared for their lives if they suggested anything else. Anyone who talked died.
Buford escaped from the compound and went to Jones' new lawyer, Mark Lane, the alleged expert on the John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., assassinations. According to Buford, Lane had been hired by Jones to shift the blame from himself and his leaders to the CIA. While representing her, Lane became her lover and she bore him a child. Their daughter is the issue of Jones' former lover and Jones' "trusted attorney." Lane subsequently denied any "personal involvement" with Buford in an interview with CBS journalist Walter Cronkite. Buford gave Lane the full details about the secret bank accounts. Lane ultimately discarded Buford, but not before the money had disappeared.
Where do things stand today? Twenty-six million dollars stolen from California taxpayers and Temple members has vanished. Buford does not have it. She is in hiding, still fearful for her life. Lane shows no lack of funds. A mass murder of almost 1,000 men, women, and children has been covered up with drapes of "suicide." How can hundreds of children be considered suicide victims? Moreover, the depths of corruption that so permeated California politics in the late 1970s remain uncovered.
No one grasped the truth since it was hidden by politicians whose careers were in jeopardy because of their compliance with Jones. According to Tim Reiterman, author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on the subject, the House Foreign Affairs Committee questioned Buford in secret. Why were the documents sealed until now? Is this generation to be a silent witness to murder and not trusted with the truth about the events? After all these years, finally, a light of logic and truth shines upon that turbulent era--or does it? ABC Associate Producer Courtney Bullock believes the story. She received "warnings" from unnamed sources, and her "20/20" expose was overruled. Instead, "20/20" retold the lies
Mr. Schnepper, Associate Economics Editor of USA Today, is an attorney and estate planner in Cherry Hill, N.J.