tv Witness to Jonestown MSNBC February 12, 2016 11:00pm-12:01am PST
when the plane first banked over jonestown, it looked like a quilt, and we didn't know what we were seeing until someone in the cockpit said, "those are bodies." >> die with a degree of dignity, lay down your life with dignity. don't lay down with fears and agony. >> you could actually smell the death in the airplane. the side vent window was open. we could actually smell it. >> don't lay down with tears an agony. it's nothing to death, just stepping over into another plane. >> like strange fallen fruit rotting in the tropical sun, more than 900 americans, men, women, and children in a group called people's temple lay dead in a city they built deep in the jungle of guyana. they had come to create a utopian community called jonestown until they drank the proverbial kool-aid.
>> we didn't commit suicide. committed an act of revolutionary suicide protesting the inhumane conditions of the world. >> they took cyanide-laced fruit punch from their spiritual father, reverend jim jones, and then lay down to die. or so it seemed. >> i don't think it was revolutionary suicide. i think it was totally unnecessary. absolutely unnecessary. >> assumption is, the premise is, that everybody voluntarily drank poison that day. and that is a lie, pure and simple. >> the massacre went beyond the jonestown gate. seven miles away, on a dirt airstrip, five more people, including a u.s. congressman and three newsmen, lay dead. murdered by gunmen from the temple. >> all of a sudden i heard pop, pop, pop, pop, and they were coming at us, and they were
shooting people. >> never been before, and never since, a member of congress assassinated in the line of duty. he's the first and only one. >> three decades later, the madness of those few hours, the mayhem of mass murder and suicide, still defies comprehension. >> this wasn't some group of zombies who followed a man down to the jungles of guyana and killed themselves. >> i've met people that have said, not me, i would never have been in a situation like that. i always say to them, and it's true, you know what? they were people just like you. same position in society. looked like you. that were there. ♪ we're a happy family yes we are ♪ >> 913 people died there. you know, and for every one of them there was a story. >> when i walked out of
jonestown i made a promise to those people that were being murdered there that day that i would not ever forget what happened or forget their story. >> the program normally seen at this time will be seen in its entirety following this special report from nbc news. here is nbc news correspondent, edwin newman. >> good evening. for the last 30 hours we here at nbc news in common with other news organizations have been trying to establish what happened last night at the airstrip at a place called port kaituma. that's 150 miles north west of georgetown in guyana on the northern coast of south america. and trying to find out why it
happened. we do have a particular interest. two nbc newsmen were shot to death there. they were in guyana with representative leo ryan. democrat of california. ryan was killed. >> i don't think that anyone was expecting physical trouble at that level, guns, weaponry, that sort of thing. i think everybody was surprised. >> i really think he thought he was a member of congress. and there's a congressional shield of protection. we wouldn't any of doing that today without taking protection or security. >> congressman leo ryan had taken a news team and a group of concerned relatives to guyana for a look inside jonestown, where jim jones and his california people's temple had relocated under a dark and growing cloud of accusations. >> a lot of constituents had young children, young adolescent children and young adults who had become involved in the
people's temple. and they were concerned about them. and a number of them came to congressman ryan and said, we think something is wrong. we feel that our kids have been taken over by this man. and there were reasons to be concerned. there were allegations that there was gun running. allegations of sexual abuse. lots of questions. >> we wanted to see for ourselves. because we had been receiving conflicting accounts of what life was like in jonestown. you know, on one hand it was being cast as heaven on earth. and the other, hell. >> what began as a congressional investigation ended as a massacre. while 5 people lay murdered on the airstrip, 20 others scattered into the bush, and made it out alive. >> somehow one of the two aircraft that were to take out congressman ryan's party managed to get off.
one of those aboard was nbc field producer bob flick. this was the account he gave. >> there were many shots. every time somebody would fall down wounded, they would walk over and shoot them in the head with a shotgun. >> bob was pretty traumatized. he watched his cameraman get killed. he watched his correspondent get killed. he watched steve sung, who he thought was mortally wounded. when the shooting started he got out. he had survivor's remorse, survivor's guilt, how come i didn't die there. >> they waved the guyanese people out of the way and were only to kill americans, which is what they tried to do, to kill all the americans. >> ten other people, all americans, were wounded -- >> in those first frenzied hours, nbc had no way of knowing that they had buried the lead to one of the biggest stories of
the decade. it took 13 minutes before the report even hinted at trouble inside jonestown itself. >> there have been reports of mass suicides in jonestown after the shootings at the airstrip. >> and then it took another week before the world knew the extent of all that had happened. >> they thought they only found 400 bodies. that's what the initial report was. that meant there were still 500 or more people unaccounted for, that nobody knew where they were. and as far as anybody knew, they were out there marauding. >> no one knows how many people escaped the mass suicide by running into the jungle. one witness said about a dozen. others believe hundreds are out there. the government plans to fly over the jungle with a plane with a loudspeaker to tell them they can come out. that they are safe now. fred francis, nbc news, jonestown, guyana.
>> and it was stunning. i was stunned. there can't be. there can't be that many dead. >> and then the real numbers started to come out. 700, 800, 900 dead. >> i had reported on the air that there was some 400 dead and all of a sudden, there were 800, 900 dead. and i couldn't believe i made that kind of mistake. then the army colonel showed me where i made the mistake. that the bodies were five deep in the ravine behind the pavilion and we couldn't possibly have counted them. i mean, it was just unbelievable. i mean, here the world was looking at this group of americans who in the middle of guyana in a country no one had ever heard of before killing a congressman and taking cyanide because a congressman of the united states had come down to see what was going on. it was just more than i think anyone could have ever imagined. >> it was ruled from the start
by a very sick man. ♪ >> a sweet man on some level. an incredibly charismatic man. a man that could get inside your head in an instant and find out exactly what was most important to you and tell you how he was going to give it to you. it's a rare person that's not sucked in by that. it's also a rare person who once they realized they've been sucked in can pull themselves out and say, no, i'm out of this. >> they found themselves on the road to hell paved with good intentions. >> i did not move to guyana to die. it doesn't make sense. why would you move 8,000 miles to commit suicide? why would you clear 1,200 acres of triple canopy rain forest to commit suicide?
the horrific, bewildering end that befell people's temple seems even more unthinkable in a community that once teemed with exuberance and hope. ♪ ♪ singing glory hallelujah ♪ father lifted me >> the first meeting i ever went to was in october of '69. everything was beautiful. black and white together. the songs that we sang and the things that we did. >> you saw every walk of life, every color in the rainbow, dressed in every color in the rainbow. just dancing it up to good gospel. black gospel music. ♪ singing glory hallelujah father lifted me ♪ >> just broke down all those
barriers. >> people came because they either wanted to make a dramatic change in their lives or a dramatic change in the world, make the world better. >> i'm a vietnam vet. i had a lot of anger left over from vietnam. i wanted to change the country. i wanted to be part of the solution. when i walked into peoples temple i literally felt like i was home. i had known those people forever. that's how i felt. i didn't know anything about the temple. i didn't know anything about jones. i didn't know anything about the politics. i just knew that those people reflected me. they were my brothers and sisters. it was the most alive place that i had ever been in. >> i had $20 to my name, and i was hitchhiking up between ukiah and redwood valley, where the temple was, and somebody picked
me up who was a member of the temple and said if you're looking for a place to stay, a place to sleep, get some food, i've got the place for you. i belong to this wonderful church. they feed the hungry. they take care of the sick. and he said, furthermore, the person who runs this thing is god. >> some people see me as the representative of the i am. a jehovah. some people see a great deal of god in my body. they see christ in me. a hope of glory. >> he said, if you see me as your father, i'll be your father. if you see me as your brother, i'll be your brother. if you see me as your savior, i'll be your savior. he said i could go further than that. if you see me as your god, i'll be your god. you look at him, okay, okay, god. >> that's beautiful. >> i wanted to believe in something. i really wanted to believe in something. and if i found the second coming
of jesus christ or god, you know, that was wonderful. it was wonderful. >> if he wants faith healing, you want mysticism, come on in. if you're an academic and you want education, you want to hear it logically, come on in. if you're a socialist, if you're a revolutionary, if you're just outside of what's considered in the middle, come on in, we can deal with that. everybody heard their message. >> jim jones was just 25 years old when he started peoples temple in indianapolis in 1956. as a lonely only child in a small indiana town, jimmy jones took comfort in religion and became something of an evangelical prodigy, entertaining friends in his backyard barn with long winded sermons and animal funerals. his indianapolis ministry
aroused controversy with its integrated socially active congregation in a city with historic ties to the ku klux klan. >> i was staying at the ymca. i saw in a recorded paper, an advertisement about the peoples temple. he called me later and said why didn't you come back to the temple. i thought, no one -- no pastor ever asked me to come to temple before or why i wasn't in church. so i went back. he offered me to sit down in the seat where he was sitting. at the table to eat. he said, you can have my seat. >> jones and his wife practiced what they preached. they had a biological son, stephan, and adopted an african-american baby they named jim junior. it was indianapolis' first adoption of a black child by a white family. >> he had this great family of all different colors. he had a wonderful wife. i loved his kids. i was enchanted by everything he had going. >> i really don't feel comfortable being photographed.
i really don't. >> in 1965 jones moved his controversial flock to redwood valley in northern california. a place he had read about in "esquire" magazine was a safe haven from nuclear war. >> many of our homes were vandalized and we had been harassed and our lives threatened by our stand on integration. that's how we come to make a decision here. we started with about 141 people. and from that, we've grown to a thriving congregation of 2,000. >> as temple membership grew amid california's emerging counterculture, so did its socialist vision. >> it was the end of the '60s, beginning of the '70s. people were looking for meaning in their life. >> it was a time for people to be talking about revolutions. it was a time of great dreams. it was post martin luther king.
we were still holding on to that. >> those people who came in in the mid-'70s on, came into a political organization, a social movement that says, yes, we have a religious base, but we also have a revolutionary idea. and we're willing to promote that idea in the sense that we're going to have communes. we'll live if a socialist environment where everybody is equal. >> my older sister carolyn joined because she saw it as a political and social movement, which would effect radical change in the country. my younger sister annie wrote to me and said that peoples temple was the only place that she saw true apostolic christianity being practiced. so she saw it as a christian organization. >> i heard jones talk, and it's like, wow, he's saying a lot of what i believe in. spiritually, politically, in
every way. this is something i could do where i felt that i was part of the solution, as opposed to part of the problem. >> seniors will be respected. children will be taught. young people will take on responsibilities. >> peoples temple had become more than a church, evolving into a communal way of life that demanded nearly total commitment of time, energy and money from its members. in many cases the temple provided food and housing, especially for seniors. >> we were taking the widows and orphans and we were taking folk that needed a place to stay. he felt that was the responsibility of us as a community to take care of our young people as well as have places for our seniors that they wouldn't be just thrown away to die in a rest home. we should have our own rest homes where we can have people in there 24 hours a day making sure they get quality care and
love. >> i visited my sisters in redwood valley in 1974. and i have to say, it was pretty amazing. there were homes for people who had been released from the mental hospital. there were homes for senior citizens. there were huge vineyards. i visited a home for mentally retarded young men. >> jim jones and peoples temple seemed too good to be true, and they were. >> he had a lot to hide.
they called him father. creator of a beautiful hard-working community of love and devotion. devotion to god, devotion to social justice, and above all, devotion to jones himself. >> if you wanted to see the part of dad that was so attractive to people, watch him. when he reached out to a black elderly woman and just wrapped her up in his arms and gave her a kiss, that was real. >> she heard of the community
and made up her mind to get here at any cost. >> imagine being that black woman, who her whole life had been a second-class citizen. he's making her everything in the world in that moment. imagine how attractive that is. >> he talks to you like you are the only person in the world. and he made it a point to talk to everyone, get to know everybody. he knew everybody on the project by name. he just seemed sincere, caring, and loving. >> jones' magnetic power reached beyond the personal and beyond preaching. >> there in the second row. you have a bad spinal condition? >> yes. >> miracle healing was essential in his ministry, and his mystery. >> step from your wheelchair. again, just step from your wheelchair. >> i think he could heal. i think he did heal people of cancer. not everybody who was in all the
videos and everything. i think a lot of that was bogus. but i do know that there were specific times it was absolutely true. and it wasn't a setup. and it wasn't for dramatics. it actually did happen. >> now, sister, walk briskly. walk. walk briskly. walk, walk. >> very few knew that this apparently healed newcomer was actually a temple member. >> my younger sister annie wrote letters about the faith healing and she saw them clearly as miracles. and she said as much. >> willa may conley. who's willa may conley? >> we had greeters at the front door. every time one entered the service they would take your name, supposedly for the mailing list. but lo and behold, the staff workers would take that same card -- >> did you once lose a loved
one, i think the name is james? >> yes, that's my brother. >> they would go by people's houses, sometimes look in trash cans, sometimes knock on the doors if they weren't there, sometimes they'd break a window and go in. >> he was 14 years of age and someone -- he was reading something and someone asked him what he had. >> so when that person came back to church, if they decided, they would use that person as one of his healing services. >> he didn't want to give it. >> yeah, he did. >> that -- that -- that person shot him to death. >> yes, he did! yes he did! >> i do not know you. you've told me or no one else the things i've mentioned. >> no, you sure haven't. >> basically, that was part of the setup to get people into the mode that he had some kind of extra special gift that no one else had. >> i didn't know the healings were phony. i believe in spiritual healing. i'm not the only person in the
world who believes in that. a lot of people believe in spiritual healing. >> now, where's your pain? >> i don't feel it. >> jones was determined to spread the miracle of his ministry and grow his congregation. every year and sometimes more, he and his followers boarded a fleet of temple buses and set out across the country to recruit new members. peoples temple established large new congregations in san francisco and in los angeles. a rural community of a few hundred now numbered into the thousands. >> as people started coming later on, they saw children in school, they saw heroin addicts getting off of heroin. they saw dope fiends and pimps changing their complete lifestyle around. they saw young people who were
out there thugging, for lack of a better word, no longer doing that. not only becoming members, but also becoming examples in their community, and it spread. >> as the numbers of faithful grew, jones and the temple became a potent and untouchable force in california politics. >> everybody was afraid to come out against him because they felt he had more power and more clout, and he did.
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jim jones' kingdom was spreading. beyond his footholds in redwood valley, san francisco and los angeles, jones negotiated the lease of nearly 4,000 acres of virgin jungle in the south american country of guyana. >> the beautiful promised land. see they made progress on the road and leveled it. >> he sent down a small advance crew from the temple to carve out a settlement they called jonestown. >> clearing it for five miles. going over the piggery now and the chicken area. also the grazing -- >> to wake up in jonestown was a
breathtaking experience. it was just so overwhelmingly beautiful looking into the jungle. the sun rising, the howler monkeys calling from the jungle. it was just beautiful. >> i fell totally in love with guyana. it's the most spectacular country. so when i got to go, i was delighted. >> it will be an egalitarian society. but there won't be this aggression that's here in the u.s. >> jonestown would be peoples temple's future. jones had these movies made to inspire the folks back home. >> every moment i could see the changes we were doing. i could see massive upgrading
and rebuilding and developing. i would never have come back. >> it's beautiful. i can't -- i -- i've never been so totally happy or fulfilled in my life. i can't begin to describe it. you can sit here and talk all day long, and no words could describe the peace, the beauty, the sense of accomplishment and responsibility and camaraderie that's here. that was from my heart. some of the most beautiful experiences i had in my life, i had in jonestown. the mission for me was, i saw -- literally, i saw my son and his children living there 50 years later. >> this is one of the many generators we purchased with our sweat and blood. this is our mill, which we are now making over $30 u.s. a day in sauces. we're doing it on handmade basis. containers going all over the place. couldn't go through the inventory. they've got kool-aid. cookies. >> jim talked about this being the promise land and how it was
plentiful with fruit and everything. jim took us to build up the morale of the people who had been there for some time. so we go there. we were eating the fruit. we felt like we were in heaven. in a way. in the states you didn't get that kind of food, necessarily. unbeknownst to me, they had to buy all that fruit. and i found out later there would be pictures of jim with his hand up holding, supposedly, like these are bananas. he was literally holding those bananas up there. they weren't growing on that tree. >> if jonestown was not yet a tropical paradise, jones was determined to one day make it the socialist utopia he dreamed and preached about. but for now home was san francisco. and by 1976, jones had made peoples temple a major player in local politics. >> if any movement in san francisco needed 100 bodies to
show up for a demonstration, they'd just call peoples temple and the temple would send 500 people. >> peoples temple raced into the community with badly needed social services. all free. jones had become a darling of san francisco politicians. >> you have managed to make the many persons associated with peoples temple part of a family. if you're in need of health care, you get health care. if you're in need of legal assistance of some sort, you get that. if you're in need of transportation, you get that. and that's the kind of religious thing that i'm excited about. >> in 1977, jones was honored with the annual martin luther king jr. humanitarian award. mayor george moscone, whose narrow election was due in no small part to peoples temple support, repaid jones by appointing him to the housing commission. >> whenever jones would say the slightest thing, a short speech, a quick answer to a question, they would clap in a deafening way.
just the whole meeting was stopped. i was trying to get some story of jones published. a story -- if only about his image and his kind of unusual style. it was hard to get anyone to go on the record and say, i got questions about jones because jones was so routinely useful. and because he had so many, in a way, bills that he had accumulated. >> he had a lot to hide. he was faking the healings, you know. he had millions of dollars. secreted away in various accounts throughout the world. i mean, it's not a very pretty picture of jim jones. >> and then finally some ex-members said i hear you're trying to write about the church. i hear you have a lot of questions. here's what we think you should know. >> you better get your mouth talking. slide under the table, slide under the table. get to her. >> what he began finding out stood in stark contrast to their humanitarian image.
he discovered systematic abuse unknown to the public. >> what do you suggest we do to this woman? >> there were a lot of beatings in the temple. people who strayed from the path one way or the other or talked to an outsider or had a relationship with an outsider or something like that. >> you deserve what you're getting, sister. you deserve it all. >> they did something that was considered capitalistic. they would get beat in front of the church. >> i can remember jim laughing and his laughter, i don't know if you've heard his laughter on tape, but it's pretty scary. very sadistic. i just know that i would go to the furthest part of the church and i'd just go -- i'd just be scared to tears. my biggest thing is, i hope this never happens to me. >> you just couldn't get up and leave. people would drag you back in.
there wasn't the choice of like walking out, saying this is intolerable or -- you didn't have that choice. >> i mean, i'm making a point and it better be heard. >> that was a thing he said he needed to do in order to keep control of the group, and he said it was necessary. and he put it under the terminology of catharsis, this is what we need to do in order for discipline, to keep things straight. >> i believed that the ends justified the means. that was it. so if somebody has to get paddled 40 times in the butt because we're going to have this great utopian society 100 years down the line, then so be it. that's what needs to be done. >> as temple defectors revealed one horror story after another to the reporter, the contrast with jones' humanitarian image defied belief. how do you know anyone is telling you the truth but if five or six people who seem
logical, collected, have these important things to say? so i came to pretty much accept the sorts of things that they presented, which were totally at odds with the church's good guy image. >> as the curtain lifted, the minister morphed into a monster. >> mother, mother, mother, mother, mother, please. lay down your life with your child. looking back on that terrible day, it's hard not to
looking back on that terrible day, it's hard not to think it was all foretold. the die had been cast years earlier with macabre tests of loyalty. >> i can remember we were in a planning commission meeting, and jim goes, "you know, i really love you, i'm going to let you guys drink wine. you don't think i love you." so we were all given this wine. it was from the ranch that the grapes had turned into, i guess, wine, whatever. jim said, "has everybody drank their wine?" some people said, "i don't want any." he said, "no, everybody's going to drink that." we all drank it. he said, "okay, has ever drank their wine?" we said yes. "okay, you all have ten minutes to live." so he handed the fruit juice around. he said that was poison because we need to commit revolutionary suicide.
we needed to be totally committed to this cause, period. and you can't be part way. you can't do it part way. >> it was told over and over again that we were going to be -- everybody was going to be killed. >> suicide drills and beatings became as much a part of the temple's internal life as social service was to its public face. devotion to jones had to be total. >> one of the very powerful things in the church was that you weren't really allowed to express how you really felt. it was like, i would be there and i would look around and i would think, am i the only one that feels this is bizarre or different or weird? >> everyone knew what the truth was. they knew that certain beatings were wrong. they knew that the suicide drills were nuts.
and, yet, everybody made decisions, which they wouldn't have if they hadn't been part of it. >> with the secret revelations he gathered in the summer of 1977, reporter marshall kilduth had the makings of a full blown expose. >> here i am with a new look at the church. ex-members had rough things to say about how the church treated its finances, how they recruited members. i went back and said i got a whole new story here. here's the deal. guy said, nope, i'm not interested. jones is doing good work. he doesn't need this kind of attacking. >> the truth of the matter is that the leadership of san francisco at the time wasn't going to touch it with a ten-foot pole because jim jones had become one of them. >> he was sitting on an explosive story with nowhere to tell it, until "new west" magazine grabbed hold of it.
the article would shine fierce light into the temple's darkest shadows, and jones knew it. the walls would soon come tumbling down, and he wasn't about to wait around for the crash. >> it came out. jim basically called people saying, "pack up your stuff, you're leaving today." people went out with one day's notice they were leaving the country forever. >> we knew we weren't coming back to the u.s. ever. ♪ >> by summer's end, hundreds of members had descended on jonestown, the jungle was now home to peoples temple. >> to jim the mass exodus to guyana was about running away. but to the people in the congregation, they thought they were going to the promised land. >> jonestown in a lot of ways offered people a whole fresh beginning. many people who really blossomed
in jonestown could never have done it here. >> but what many found was a far cry from what they had been led to expect. >> it would just seem so different than what we saw in the movies. the movies were so exciting. then especially when you got to your living quarters. the living quarters was totally different. you had a few other people in the living quarters that you thought you were going to be in by yourself. >> deep in the jungle with one dirt road in, jonestown was now jim jones' solitary kingdom. a heart of darkness far from the prying eyes of press and public. with each passing day, he became increasingly paranoid, ill, and addicted. >> my mother, i remember her coming to me and saying stephan, we have to isolate your father and get him off drugs. and i was there with his mother, and we both started laughing at the same time. my grandma jones and me. then i calmed -- because i knew mom was serious. and she really was desperate. i said, mom, you don't tell god he's got a drug problem. >> remember, we are still in a
state of siege. >> he had the old megaphone type speaker system throughout jonestown just about. and as he spoke, you could hear him. >> we are under the onslaught of a direct move of a mercenary fascist effort of the united states of america. i love you very much -- then i calmed -- because i knew mom was serious. and she really was desperate. i said, mom, you don't tell god he's got a drug problem. >> remember, we are still in a state of siege. >> he had the old megaphone type speaker system throughout jonestown just about. and as he spoke, you could hear him. >> we are under the onslaught of a direct move of a mercenary fascist effort of the united states of america. i love you very much -- >> from 6:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night, we heard him. >> i'm trying on every level to protect this community. >> it was very disturbing. it was very disturbing. the constant sound of his voice. horrible. >> it certainly contributed to the feeling of oppression. that's how i took it. it's like shut up, dude. >> i want you to not at all times try to go out into the
unknown areas now. >> and it was always america is going to fall. the armageddon is coming. >> i didn't come for the beauty. i came to save you from jails, torture. a nuclear war which your skin will roll off your back. >> jones is making it very, very clear that people are there to hurt us. and they're out there and they are watching. we need to make noise, let them know. and i'm thinking, this is not good. this is not good because i don't even have a pocket knife. i don't even have a toothpick. >> what dad started doing was faking attacks on the camp. if we get somebody to say i just saw somebody in fatigues at the edge of the bush! i come running in. and i see -- seeing somebody on the edge of the bush and i've got a rifle, i'm running for cover.
i'm thinking somebody is going to be firing on us at some time. >> he would walk around with a .45 in his hand. he said he's out in the bush trying to shoot him, even though i never heard shots come from either place. but it went on. so it made you paranoid. >> just because jones was paranoid didn't mean people weren't after him. and it drove the whole community into the arms of his madness. >> i finally came to the conclusion that i don't care if i die, he shoots me now, i don't want to live another day like this.
and you'll reach your customers where their eyes are already - on their devices. order up. it's more than just wifi, it can help grow your business. you don't see that every day. introducing wifi pro, wifi that helps grow your business. comcast business. built for business. when "new west" magazine's expose propelled the peoples temple move to guyana in 1977, no revelations were more damaging than ex-member grace stoen's, who was waging a legal war to get her son back from jim jones.
>> how is it that jim jones has your son? >> okay. i know this is very hard to believe and, i mean, if people out there don't believe me that's their problem, okay. it's easy for someone to stay out there and say if it was my child, i would have never left. i'm a mother and i would have never left my child. it took me four years to gather the courage to leave. the key was this. jim told us that if we ever left we would be killed. i had a woman put a gun in my face and tell me she, personally, would take care of me. >> i said i'm willing to make this decision for myself, i'm not willing to make it for my son. and when i left, it was a very hard and trying time. i would say it took me maybe six years -- six years, excuse me,
six months to recollect where i was at, who i was and what i had done. as soon as i snapped out of that and got my senses together, i said to myself, hey, i'm getting john stoen out of there. no matter what i have to do. i said jim is going to have to kill me to stop me from trying to get my son back. >> the custody battle reached all the way to guyana. jim jones claimed that the boy was rightfully his. 5,000 miles from california he wasn't about to give him up. ever. >> my decision is that i will personally see that john does not suffer or be made a pawn to go back, because we have information or that he be deprogrammed or that his mind be taken and used by their evil means and whatever chemicals to try to bring his mind. they're not getting john. that i am sure of. they're got going to use him as
a pawn. >> two conflicting documents raised question of who fathered little john stoen. his birth certificate listed his father as tim stoen, grace's former husband and a top jones lieutenant before he too defected from the temple. another document indicated that jim jones was the father. >> i am told that tim stoen, your husband, signed a paper that said he is not the father of your son. >> right. >> how can that be? >> everybody signed those kind of papers. i've got it here in affidavits. i've got friends that have left the church three years ago that have signed all kinds of different papers. we were forced to sign this. >> they would have you sign documents, right? pieces of notebook paper. typing paper. and they would write it out. "i threatened to kill president
nixon." and they'd just want you to sign it. don't date it, just sign it. >> my attorney, when i told him all the papers i signed and all the blank papers i signed, he couldn't believe it. i mean, he screamed at me, "how could you do something so stupid?" i said, "you want to tell me you'd be in a room with 120 peers around you, and you were told everybody is going to sign a piece of paper, that you're not going to sign it? would you do that? that you would know you would not leave that room beaten and/or dead?" >> i would like to kill grace stoen and tim stoen. i'd go back and do it right now. >> grace and tim stoen topped the temple's enemy list. >> what'd he say? >> tie a rope around grace's titty and hang her down in the water until she drowned. some other people could think of things like this. but he's 6 years old, he's this imaginative. >> she wouldn't like that.