survivors of jonestown where are they now

In this photo taken Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, former Peoples Temple member Eugene Smith poses for a photo in a park in San Francisco. Dozens of Peoples Temple members in Guyana survived the mass suicides and murders of more than 900 because they had slipped out of Jonestown or happened to be away Nov. 18, 1978. Those who broke rules were disciplined. Within minutes, the aide and her three children lay dead in a bloody bathroom, their throats slit. And she could only sense the site of the pavilion, the once-vibrant center of Jonestown life where so many died — including her two sisters and two nephews. In the aftermath, he built a new life. Some have come to acknowledge that they helped enable Jim Jones to seize control over people drawn to his interracial church, socialist preaching and religious hucksterism. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. “She gives us the order that we were supposed to kill ourselves,” Vilchez recalled. “I focused my rage on Dad and his circle, rather than deal with me,” he said. Hyacinth remained in Jonestown among the dead, alone, all day. “What we were calling the cause really was Jim,” she said. Jonestown was the highlight of Mike Touchette’s life — for a time. The violence at the end was tragic and shocking. And Smith’s wife, son and mother died. This November 1978 file photo shows the bodies of Peoples Temple mass suicide victims led by Jim Jones in Jonestown, Guyana. He’s never remarried, and Martin Luther Smith was his only child. “I just have to love him and forgive him.”. Unauthorized distribution, transmission or republication strictly prohibited. And the temple was his life — first in Indiana, later in California. Stephan helped erect a basketball court and form a team. He says his daughters have seen him gnash his teeth when he talks about his father, but they also have heard him speak lovingly of the man who taught him compassion and other virtues. At 16, she was put on the Planning Commission where the meetings were a strange mix of church business, sex talk — and adulation for Jones. At first it was spanking of children. “I’m not saying he didn’t cause it, create it. “The reality was we were folks who could be counted on to stand up,” he said. But in 1973, John’s oldest brother and a sister, along with six other California college students, quit the church and became its enemies. Eugene Smith recalls how his mother, a churchgoing African-American, bought into Jim Jones’ dream after they attended a service in Fresno. OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Jonestown was the highlight of Mike Touchette’s life — for a time. “He made a promise — once we get to Jonestown there is no corporal punishment,” Smith said. Finally, the list of survivors who were neither in Jonestown nor Georgetown include: “This is really crazy,” he recalls thinking. “This is really crazy,” he recalls thinking. “When I left at 21, I left a part of myself there,” she said. He remarried three decades ago, and he and his wife, Erin, raised three sons. They divorced when Jordan was 6. It would become a little town where people of all ages and colours raised food and children. This November 1978 file photo shows the Peoples Temple compound, led by Jim Jones, after bodies were removed, in Jonestown, Guyana. But Stephan was the biological son of Jim and Marceline Jones. It was 42 years ago, on November 18, 1978, that cult leader Jim Jones encouraged a mass suicide in Guyana — where more than 900 of his followers died … Dozens of members in Guyana slipped out of Jonestown or happened to be away that day. He remarried three decades ago, and he and his wife, Erin, raised three sons. For years, Vilchez was ashamed of the part she played in an idealistic group that imploded so terribly. “If anything, we felt pity for him,” he said, “and it grew into a dislike, maybe hate.”. That’s what triggered it.”. When Jim Sr., a local Democratic Party darling, met with future first lady Rosalynn Carter, Jim Jr. proudly went along. This past year, she returned to long-overgrown Jonestown. Most of the remaining survivors were Temple members in Georgetown. “I focused my rage on Dad and his circle, rather than deal with me,” he said. It marched for four jailed Fresno newsmen. “Little Jimmy” became part of their “Rainbow Family” of white, black, Korean-American and Native American children. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. It was he who dreamed up Jonestown, he who willed it into being, and he who brought it down: first, with the assassination of U.S. Rep. Leo Ryan and four others by temple members on a nearby airstrip on Nov. 18, 1978, then with the mass murders and suicides of hundreds, a horror that remains nearly unimaginable 40 years later. But he said his discontent festered. Where the machine shop once stood, there was only rusty equipment. “Like everyone else, he died there,” his son said. Jonestown was a commune in Guyana, South America, created by Jim Jones, a preacher and leader of the Peoples Temple cult. Dozens of Peoples Temple members in Guyana survived the mass suicides and murders of more than 900 because they had slipped out of Jonestown or happened to be away Nov. 18, 1978. “I said there must be another way.”. When he was ordered to Georgetown to help with supply shipments, Smith said he concocted an escape plan: Ollie and other temple singers and dancers, he believed, would soon be sent to Georgetown to perform, and the family would flee to the U.S. Embassy. But Stephan was the biological son of Jim and Marceline Jones. Now 58, he owns a modular office furniture business in the East Bay and is married with a daughter. Dozens of Peoples Temple members in Guyana survived the mass suicides and murders of more than 900 because they had slipped out of Jonestown or happened to be away Nov. 18, 1978. For one thing, you have Survivor… He has taken a lead role in a 40th Jonestown anniversary memorial to be held Sunday at Oakland’s Evergreen Cemetery, where remains of unclaimed and unidentified victims are buried. Neither were the White Nights where everyone stayed up, armed with machetes to fight enemies who never arrived. Now, Stephan Jones is … At first it was spanking of children. In the aftermath, he built a new life. Vilchez was dispatched to the Guyanese capital of Georgetown to raise money. Ollie worked in the nursery, and Eugene felled trees. He has taken a lead role in a 40th Jonestown anniversary memorial to be held Sunday at Oakland’s Evergreen Cemetery, where remains of unclaimed and unidentified victims are buried. The day was cathartic, a "turning point" for survivors and families of those who died, according to Moore. Many people were scarred by their experience in Peoples Temple and in Jonestown. In the days before Ryan’s fact-finding mission to the settlement, the players were in Georgetown for a tourney with the Guyana national teams. Neither were the White Nights where everyone stayed up, armed with machetes to fight enemies who never arrived. This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. Over four decades, as they have built new lives, they have struggled with grief and the feeling that they were pariahs. As a San Francisco high school student, he was dispatched to help build Jonestown. Four decades after over 900 followers of Jim Jones committed suicide at Jonestown, survivor Tracy Parks recounts her escape from the horrors of the group's compound in the Guyana rainforest He too was a member of the basketball team. Cobb lost 11 relatives that day, including his mother, youngest brother and four sisters. And when her 23-year-old sister joined, Jordan went to live with her at age 12. “I was going back to retrieve that young person and also to say goodbye.”. Vilchez returned to Jonestown for the first time in 40 years. Jones berated three other new arrivals for misbehavior on the trip; they were beaten and forced to work 24 hours straight. Ollie worked in the nursery, and Eugene felled trees. In this March 5, 2018 photo released by Kevin Kunishi, Jordan Vilchez sits at memorial for mass murder and suicide victims at the Jonestown settlement in Guyana. The Joneses adopted a black baby in Indiana in 1960, and Jim gave the 10-week-old infant his own name. John was attending a San Francisco high school when he was allowed to join his best friends in Jonestown. He was 18 and running a temple construction crew when the church sanctioned his marriage to a talented 16-year-old singer, Ollie Wideman. Some were part of the group’s logistical base in Guyana’s capital, some were in the city for business or medical reasons, and some were there to participate in a basketball tournament. Jim Jones and His People.”. When the prodigals visited, the Cobbs kept it secret from Jones. “I believe 100% that not everyone would have been dead,” he said. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings. As a self-taught bulldozer operator, he worked alongside other Peoples Temple members in the humid heat, his blade carving roads and sites for wooden buildings with metal roofs. “Like everyone else, he died there,” his son said. In this Nov. 5, 2018 photo, John Cobb poses for a portrait at the the Jonestown Memorial at Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland, Calif. This website uses cookies to personalize your content (including ads), and allows us to analyze our traffic. They divorced when Jordan was six. Jim Jones — charismatic, volatile and ultimately evil. He says his daughters have seen him gnash his teeth when he talks about his father, but they also have heard him speak lovingly of the man who taught him compassion and other virtues. The Peoples Temple Agricultural Project, better known by its informal name "Jonestown", was a remote settlement in Guyana, established by the Peoples Temple, a San Francisco-based cult under the leadership of Jim Jones.. He did.”. More than 300 Jonestown victims were children. But in 1973, John’s oldest brother and a sister, along with six other California college students, quit the church and became its enemies. In the days before Ryan’s fact-finding mission to the settlement, the players were in Georgetown for a tourney with the Guyana national teams. Then, after a 1977 New West magazine expose of temple disciplinary beatings and other abuses, she was sent to Jonestown. Over four decades, as they have built new lives, they have struggled with grief and the feeling that they were pariahs. When the prodigals visited, the Cobbs kept it secret from Jones. After the temple exodus to Guyana, he was given a public relations post in Georgetown — and was part of the basketball team. One day, when she was in high school, she came home and told her parents that her religion class had discussed Peoples Temple; only then did her father share the story of how his family was nearly wiped out. Instead of finishing high school, Vilchez moved to San Francisco, where she lived in the church. Devotion to its ideals bolstered her self-worth. And she could only sense the site of the pavilion, the once-vibrant centre of Jonestown life where so many died — including her two sisters and two nephews. When John Cobb was born in 1960 in a black section of Indianapolis, his mother and older siblings already were temple members. But after temple gunmen killed the congressman, three newsmen and a church defector on the Port Kaituma airstrip, Jones ordered a poisoned grape-flavoured drink administered to children first. But the entertainers stayed in Jonestown to entertain Ryan. She gave her house to the Peoples Temple and they moved to San Francisco. IE 11 is not supported. John was attending a San Francisco high school when he was allowed to join his best friends in Jonestown. Vilchez worked as office manager at a private crime lab for 20 years and now, at 61, sells her artwork. And Smith’s wife, son and mother died. This June 2016 photo provided by Jim Jones Jr. shows, from left, Ross Jones, 21, Erin Fowler-Jones, Robert Jones, 27, and Ryan Jones, 25, and Jim Jones Jr., in Pacifica, Calif. It would become a little town where people of all ages and colors raised food and children. Four granite slabs are etched with names of the 918 people who died in Guyana— including James Warren Jones, which deeply offends some whose relatives perished. Of course, even if he wanted to forget Jonestown, his name was an ever-present reminder. The only child to survive was Stephanie Jones, 9 years of … After his stint on the series, Herzog went on to try being a hairstylist. tap here to see other videos from our team. © 2020 Canoe.com, a division of Postmedia Network Inc. All rights reserved. There, as part of Jones’ personal security detail, Cobb saw the once captivating minister strung out on drugs, afraid to venture anywhere for fear of his legal problems. He was briefly romantically involved with Spencer Duhm, a contestant on Survivor: Tocantins. But after temple gunmen killed the congressman, three newsmen and a church defector on the Port Kaituma airstrip, Jones ordered a poisoned grape-flavored drink administered to children first. The Jonestown memorial is at Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland, Calif. Gruelling field work was not to her liking. This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Rosalynn Carter’s first name. Then it was boxing matches for adults. The murders and suicides were unfolding, 150 miles away. He is the author with the late John Jacobs of “Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. “Little Jimmy” became part of their “Rainbow Family” of white, black, Korean-American and Native American children. Jim Jr. would lose 15 immediate relatives in Jonestown, including his pregnant wife, Yvette Muldrow. Some have come to acknowledge that they helped enable Jim Jones to seize control over people drawn to his interracial church, socialist preaching and religious hucksterism. Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Keep reading to see photos of the abandoned, swampy village, which is now an overgrown jungle with just a few rusted buildings and vehicle remains. “To me, the ends justified the means,” he said. In code, his father told him everyone was going to die in “revolutionary suicide.”, “I argued with my Dad,” he said. ... Those raised in the temple or who joined as teens lost the only life they knew. The murders and suicides were unfolding, 150 miles away. “We were trying to build a new world, a progressive socialist organization.”. “The temple really became my family,” she said. That way no one else would want to live. Survivor recounts the Jonestown Massacre 40 years later Decades later a handful of survivors and Indiana families are still tormented by what occurred in the jungle home of the People’s Temple. “Being in Jonestown before Jim got there was the best thing in my life.”. After the temple exodus to Guyana, he was given a public relations post in Georgetown — and was part of the basketball team. Now 58, he owns a modular office furniture business in the East Bay and is married with a daughter. In code, his father told him everyone was going to die in “revolutionary suicide.”, “I argued with my Dad,” he said. “I said there must be another way.”. He was summoned to the temple radio room. Stephan Jones and some other team members believe they might have changed history if they were there. More than 900 people lived in the agricultural mission, with its dining pavilion, tidy cottages, school, medical facilities and rows of crops. In 2010, the Jonestown Memorial Fund, a three-person committee including McGehee and two Jonestown survivors — Jim Jones, Jr. and John Cobb … “He made a promise — once we get to Jonestown there is no corporal punishment,” Smith said. He’s never remarried, and Martin Luther Smith was his only child. It's a sacred time and space. Stephan helped erect a basketball court and form a team. The reunion with Jones was not as joyous. That’s what triggered it.”. His biggest regrets revolve around the team’s refusal to return to Jonestown. “I believe 100 percent that not everyone would have been dead,” he said. He’s 61 now. He went through years of nightmares, mourning and shame. With their lives, the story of Jonestown continues, even now. He and other survivors helped create the Jonestown memorial at Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland, Calif., where the remains of more than 400 victims were … “She gives us the order that we were supposed to kill ourselves,” Vilchez recalled. Survivors of Jonestown Massacre Look Back. He has taken a lead role in a 40th Jonestown anniversary memorial to be held Sunday at Oakland’s Evergreen Cemetery, where remains of unclaimed and unidentified victims are buried. Author: Rich Van Wyk Grueling field work was not to her liking. He went through years of nightmares, mourning and shame. To cope, he says he abused drugs and exercised obsessively. One day, when she was in high school, she came home and told her parents that her religion class had discussed Peoples Temple; only then did her father share the story of how his family was nearly wiped out. JONESTOWN SURVIVORS: Where they are 40 years later. “Being in Jonestown before Jim got there was the best thing in my life.” (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson), Connect with the definitive source for global and local news, assassination of U.S. Rep. Leo Ryan and four others. He converted to Catholicism and registered Republican. “The reality was we were folks who could be counted on to stand up,” he said. Where the machine shop once stood, there was only rusty equipment. The 21-year-old Indiana native felt pride pioneering in the distant jungle of Guyana, South America. But some lived. He was 18 and running a temple construction crew when the church sanctioned his marriage to a talented 16-year-old singer, Ollie Wideman. Four granite slabs are etched with names of the 918 people who died in Guyana— including James Warren Jones, which deeply offends some whose relatives perished. After Ollie became pregnant, she was sent to Jonestown; Eugene remained behind. We know of many other violent deaths involving Jonestown survivors and former Temple members. Jonestown survivor talks about escaping mass suicide. Now, Stephan Jones is father of three daughters, ages 16, 25 and 29, and works in the office furniture installation business. And I must say, they did. He’s 61 now. “I was going back to retrieve that young person and also to say goodbye.”. That helps a lot.” Also coping with the lingering trauma from the siege is fellow survivor Joann Vaega . Read more about cookies here. And the temple was his life — first in Indiana, later in California. Life became more tolerable after the couple’s baby, Martin Luther Smith, was born. For an optimal experience visit … 40 years after the Jonestown massacre: Jim Jones' surviving sons on what they think of their father, the Peoples Temple today "There's somethings about Jonestown … “There is no way we would be shooting at the airstrip. In California, he was steeped in temple life. Jordan Vilchez’s parents were Berkeley progressives in the 1960s — her father African-American, her mother Scotch-Irish. Todd Herzog won it all on Survivor: China. After Ollie became pregnant, she was sent to Jonestown; Eugene remained behind. 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