Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 8th 2014 Contents A15
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DOVER---The cremated remains of nine victims
of a 1978 mass cult suicide-murder in Jonestown,
Guyana, have turned up in a former funeral home,
officials said yesterday.
The Delaware Division of Forensic Science has
taken possession of the remains, discovered at the
former Minus Funeral Home in Dover, and is working
to make identifications and notify relatives, authorities
said in a statement.
On November 18, 1978, gunmen from the Peoples
Temple cult ambushed and killed Congressman Leo
Ryan of California, three newsmen and a defector
from the group at a remote jungle airstrip as they
visited on a fact-finding mission to investigate reports
of abuses of members.
Cult leader Jim Jones then orchestrated a ritual of
mass murder and suicide at the temple s nearby agri-
cultural commune, ordering followers to drink
cyanide-laced grape punch. Most complied, although
survivors described some people being shot, injected
with poison, or forced to drink the deadly beverage
when they tried to resist.
After the deaths, bodies of 911 massacre victims
were brought to Dover Air Force Base, home to the
US military s largest mortuary.
Many of the bodies were decomposed and could
not be identified. Several cemeteries refused to take
them until the Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland, Cal-
ifornia, stepped forward in 1979 and accepted 409
bodies. The remaining victims were cremated or
buried in family cemeteries.
Yesterday, the dilapidated former funeral home in
Dover had a padlock on the double front doors.
Last week, the Delaware agency responded to a
request to check the former funeral home after 38
containers of remains were discovered inside. Thir-
ty-three containers were marked and identified. They
spanned a period from about 1970 to the 1990s and
included the Jonestown remains.
On Wednesday, Delaware authorities also conducted
an "exploratory excavation" on the former funeral
home property after finding areas of loosely compacted
soil, looking for other unclaimed, cremated remains.
They discovered an arrowhead, two animal bones,
oyster shells and charcoals.
Searchers also found several bronze gravesite mark-
ers for deceased veterans who served in World War
I through the Vietnam War.
Jones ran the Peoples Temple in San Francisco in
the early 1970s. He established a free health clinic
and a drug rehabilitation programme, eventually
emerging as a political force.
He became chairman of the San Francisco Housing
Authority in 1976 but allegations of wrongdoing
mounted, and Jones moved to Guyana, the only Eng-
lish-speaking country in South America.
The cult leader believed he would be safe there
from what he perceived as media and police perse-
cution. Hundreds of followers then moved to Jon-
estown, seeking socialism and racial harmony. (AP)
chats with government
Whitney Byron and
Susanna Sinanan during
a symposium for
returning scholars at
Hilton Trinidad and
Conference Centre, Port-
of-Spain, on Wednesday.
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
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