Jim Jones

Religious Figure

Born: 13 May 1931
Died: 18 November 1978 (shot to death)
Birthplace: Crete, Indiana
Best known as: Christian preacher who led 911 followers to their deaths
Jim Jones was the founder and leader of Jonestown, Guyana, a community of over 900 members of The People's Temple Full Gospel Church, an offshoot of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Jones had been an untrained preacher in Indiana and California before moving his congregation to Guyana to avoid government scrutiny. In November of 1978, U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan visited Jonestown to investigate allegations of human rights abuses. Ryan and his group were murdered at Jonestown as they tried to leave, and on November 18, 1978 Jim Jones and his followers -- 909 in all -- committed suicide or were murdered. Initial reports said the members drank Kool-Aid laced with cyanide, but a report from the Guyanese coroner said that hundreds of the bodies showed needle marks, indicating foul play. The U.S. government has not released all the documents pertinent to their investigation of the incident, further complicating the long-held conspiracy theory that Jonestown was a mind-control experiment conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency.

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