Jonestown Mass Murder - Suicide 50 Years Ago Today

November 18, 1978 Jim Jones led his followers in a mass murder-suicide, hundreds in a commune in Jonestown, Guyana.

Many of the people willingly drank the poisoned punch, others, including children were forced at gun point.

One third of them were children, total number of deaths, 909.

Jones, the fouded the People's Temple in the 1950's. The charismatic leader attracted many African Americans, preaching against racism.

Pressure an already paranoid, Jones in the 1970's with accusations of mistreating children and physical abuse of members  in his church, along with financial fraud, he convinced his congregation to move to Guyana. Promising them paradise.

The reality of the town he founded, Jonestown, was far from the promise. Passports were taken away, long hot days working in the fields, members turning on one another, Jones' addiction to drugs increased his paranoia that the government was after him. They were out to destroy him.

On November 17, 1978, after contact from former Temple members and releatives of members in Jonestown,  U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan, a Democrat of California, travedled to Jonestown to investigate the settlement. Ryan arrived with a group of journalists and other observers. The first day went well, as Ryan’s delegation was leaving the next day, a number of Jonestown residents asked them for help out of Guyana. Jones became was outraged, one of his lieutenants attacked Ryan with a knife. The congressman escaped unharmed, but Jones put out an order for an ambush to kill Ryan and all of his group at the airstrip.  The congressman and four others were murdered as they boarded their charter planes.

At Jonestown, the first to die were children, given the poison through syringes. Adults followed, drinking the poisoned punch.

A few members escaped, some were not there at the time. Several of Jones' were in another part of Guyana.

Jonestown massacre Encyclopedia Britannica Jonestown, (November 18, 1978), was the location of the mass murder-suicide of members of the California-based Peoples Temple cult at the behest of their charismatic but paranoid leader, Jim Jones, in Jonestown agricultural commune, Guyana. The death toll exceeded 900, including some 300 who were age 17 and under report Marjorie Farrington 

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