Category: Peoples Temple

New Career on the Hill For Survivor of Jonestown Killings

Of all the comebacks on Capitol Hill, Rep. Jackie Speier’s ranks among the most unexpected. Her first stint here, 30 years ago, nearly killed her.

In November 1978, Speier, then a 28-year-old legal aide to Rep. Leo J. Ryan (D-Calif.), accompanied the maverick lawmaker, a handful of reporters and concerned family members into the jungles of Guyana to investigate the People’s Temple cult. Cult members attacked and killed Ryan and several members of the entourage.

Speier was shot five times and left for dead, and more than 900 cult members committed mass suicide at the urging of their leader, Jim Jones.

The son who survived Jonestown

Stephan Jones hasn’t seen – nor does he plan on seeing – Jonestown: Paradise Lost, a harrowing docudrama recounting the last days of the People’s Temple in the jungles of Guyana in November 1978. He lived through it. Jones is the son of infamous cult leader Jim Jones, the mastermind behind one of the grimmest chapters of the last century.

Jonestown revisited

It has been 29 years, but the archival images of those hundreds of corpses, lying just as they fell, scattered across an eerily silent Jonestown compound, are no less shocking or horrific. The tragic saga of Rev. Jim Jones and his followers still has something relevant to say about abused power, unconditional influence and extremist faith.