Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Kool-Aid is what immediately comes to mind when Jim Jones is mentioned. However, there is a myriad of facts that go along with Jim Jones legacy of terror. Jones was born into a poor and racist family in Indiana in 1831. Like many budding serial killers, Jim Jones enjoyed killing small animals and then performing funerals for them. As a teenager, Jim Jones joined evangelical churches and became a pastor himself. He created the People's Temple in the 1950's and gained much recognition with hundreds of followers. Moving his church to Guyana, South America, he set up strict rules for his people and refused to let them leave. Democratic congressman Leo Ryan visited the commune in 1978, finding several frantic cult members that begged him to take them with him. Leo Ryan intended to take these members with him to his private plane that day. However, when the congressman reached the plane, a number of Jones' minions arrived on the tarmac with guns. Leo Ryan was killed along with four of his assistants. Soon after the blood shed, Jones began giving out cyanide laced Kool-Aid to his members. In the frenzy that ensued, Jones' recorded voice streamed,"People, don't be this way. Don't be this way. Let us die with dignity." 909 innocent followers died of cyanide poisoning and bodies were stacked one atop the other in an astonishing mountain that covered nearly all of the pavillion. Jones was found with a gun shot wound to the left temple with a pillow cradling his head.
For more information, there is an excellent documentary about Jones called The Life and Death of Peoples Temple. (PBS)