Time Magazine cover of Jonestown Massacre

Aerial view of the bodies from Jonestown

Jim Jones

I read a book a while back called Seductive Poison by Deborah Layton, one of the survivors of the Jonestown Massacre. The book was fascinating and really gave me some insight into the tragedy that took place.

If you don’t know much about The People’s Temple or the Jonestown Massacre, you should definitely look into it. Of course, by now, you know that I am interested in true crime. The story of Jim Jones and The People’s Temple is one that even I find hard to grasp.

Jim Jones was a church leader in charge of The People’s Temple in San Francisco, CA. Over the years, Jones gained a large following of many people, including African Americans. This was rare at the time, in the 1970s for a church to be of mixed races. Jones preached all about love and how we should all get along.

Little did some of his followers know, but he was having affairs with many of the church members at the time, even though he was married. As the “church” continued to grow, it reached cult status fairly quickly. Jones became very controlling, brainwashing many of his followers. He wanted them to go to Guyana to set up The People’s Temple where no outside influences could bother them.

The People’s temple set up a commune in the Guyanese jungle and several went over to live in what they thought would be a perfect world. It didn’t turn out that way. There was little or no food, members were forced to get up at all hours of the night with Jim Jones screaming “white night!” warning members that they were going to battle. Many wanted to leave after they got there but felt trapped. Jones actually had armed guards who monitored the premises.

When many members family members began worrying about their loved ones, Congressman Leo Ryan decided to investigate. He took a trip with some of his staff to Guyana to check out the scene. What happened on that visit became a great tragedy to all those involved.

When Ryan got to Guyana some of the members expressed interest in leaving with him and his staff. They no longer wanted to stay in Guyana and feared Jones. Jones started having a meltdown and things began to get out of control quickly. Congressman Ryan and members of the temple decided to leave, but when they got to the airport, they were gunned down by Jones’s guards.

After these deaths, Jones convinced his remaining members to “drink the kool aid.” They were all given a drink laced with poison and were forced to take place in a mass suicide. 909 People died in Jonestown that day. There were more across town in Georgetown as well. Up until 9/11 this was considered the largest civilian non-natural disaster America had experienced.

What are your thoughts on the Jonestown massacre? Anyone remember your reaction at the time?

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Join the Discussion!

  1. This is so so so so so creepy! Isn’t it sad that there are so many false teachers out there!? My dad would always tell me “don’t drink the kool-aid” when I would go places in high school….I think he was referencing this! haha

  2. I have watched so many stories on TV about this, it is just fascinating. So scary and crazy!!

    Hope you are having a great week and thank you for your wonderful comments. :)


  3. Man, that aerial view is so shocking. And nowadays people are complaining that the bodies they are showing from Haiti are too much.

    Anyone who follows another person who promises them a better life is suspicious in my book. It’s like following a church only to find out later the pastor is a pedophile or an embezzler.


  4. This is so disturbing. It’s unbelievable how many people can be brainwashed into following lunatics like this. Of course, we have seen this happen multiple times throughout history. It’s extremely unsettling to me how easily others can become entirely entranced by poisonous/fake people like Jones. Those poor people.

  5. I certainly remember it well. I’ve seen the movie and read many accounts of the entire story.

    Jones was not a minister, as some would believe. He had a warped view of religion and how and what people should believe. He was a mentally unstable sex addict with an ego. And a salesman. He got all those people to believe in him, follow him, and die with him. He could have sold ice to the Eskimos.

  6. That was really messed up. And of course Jim Jones HAD to be from San Francisco. My family moved from L.A. to San Francisco when I was younger. Do you think he busted through the wall and said “Oh Yeah” before he made them drink the Kool-Aide? I’m disturbed… :)

  7. I love your new blog layout! And, thank you bunches for your comments! You always feature such interesting & informing posts!

    I remember reading about this mass genocide when I was younger. It is mind boggling to me how 1 man could control the minds of almost 1,000 people! Such a senseless tragedy! It gives me chills to think about it!

  8. I don’t know much about this very sad event. Thanks for recommending the book. I’m very interested to read it now.
    Have a great day!

  9. I too am OBSESSED with true crime stories and have been since I was little. I have seen a documentary on Jonestown and it’s interesting to note that his son was sent into town and survived the massacre. I think he snookered his dad into thinking he would do it but alas, survived. When they interviewed the son, he seemed to know his father was mentally ill. When you think of mothers killing their own children.. This certainly goes down as one of the most mind boggling events in history.

  10. I remember this very well. At the time I remember wondering how people could follow such an idiot BUT now that I am older & have seen more of the world I fully understand.
    All it takes is a power hungry person to appeal to a bunch of people who have nothing. They become a “family” & when you boil it all down that is the one thing everyone wants….family.
    Look at Hitler & the condition of Germany…..
    Have you ever read ANN RULE??? I have read almost all her books of true crime!! Excellent author….

  11. I remember very well. I was a teenager and I couldn’t believe how so many people followed him in good faith only to come to such a tragic end. There is a very good documentary on Jim Jones and this event on PBS…it’s very chilling.


  12. My other is from Guyana,every now and then his name comes up, as family members recall this horrible event. It’s so strange,when I visit Guyana, there is something so beautiful and peaceful there. To think this once happened is chilling.

  13. I remember it well. Another example of how easily good people can be lead by those who think themselves gods.
    “A Bible in the hands of some men is a weapon.” I don’t remember where I read that – I want to say To Kill a Mockingbird – but it is so true. Jim Jones was a murderer, plain and simple, and his weapon was religion. You just don’t see that kind of weapon coming at you until it’s too late.

  14. This was a very sick and evil cult.But you know this world hasnt really changed much since.We have evil living right near us,in our own backyard so to speak.I dont think really we have seen anything yet, sad to say that.

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