1 09-18-88 11:37 aed Jonestown `diary of the dead' resurfaces
SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) _ Prophetic notes written just before more
than 900 people died a decade ago in a mass murder-suicide at a
Guyana cult commune have resurfaced among boxes of records
unsealed this month.
Many of the notes were written by Mike Prokes, a lieutenant of
Peoples Temple leader the Rev. Jim Jones, and a survivor of the
cyanide killings of 913 people in November 1978.
The letters by Prokes and other dissatisfied Jones followers
indicated the commune in South America was falling apart in its
"I don't know how much longer I can take it," Prokes wrote. "I
mean the 'witchcraft.' I feel like I'm being programmed. I enjoy
the violence when I do it, but sometimes like right now I feel
sorry I did it.
"I think I'm going to end it all with my .38; I only wish I
could see my brains blown out."
While Prokes survived the temple commune's mass suicide, a few
months later during a news conference he pulled out his .38 and
fatally shot himself in the head.
The notes resurfaced this month among eight boxes of records
deposited in the Peoples Temple archives at the California
Historical Society. The records were unsealed by a
court-appointed receiver and excerpts were published in Sunday's
editions of the San Francisco Examiner.
Jones, a San Francisco minister who used sex, drugs and
brainwashing to keep his flock together, feared that temple
enemies such as defectors, reporters and federal investigators
would invade and destroy his jungle empire.
The letters, however, indicate that the greatest threats to
Jones's power came from within.
Jones and his commune shot into the international spotlight on
Nov. 18, 1978, when Rep. Leo Ryan, D-Calif., an Examiner
photographer, two NBC reporters and a temple defector were killed
during a fact-finding visit to Jonestown.
Jones then issued the order for the mass murder-suicide, and
913 people including Jones drank or were forced to drink a grape
drink laced with cyanide.
Prokes was not the only dissatisfied temple member. The
archives also include notes from Jones's son, Stephen, denouncing
his father, and one from an unnamed temple member who wrote to
Jones, "I don't think a day has gone by that I fail to think of
me calling the FBI n you."
Jones follower Gene Chaikin, a lawyer, wrote Jones that he was
"unwilling to continue in atmosphere of anxiety" and intended to
leave. "I detest being lied to and manipulated. You have done a
lot of both."
Witnesses said Chaikin was one of the "suicide" victims who
was poisoned against his will.
The newly released documents also include:
_The temple's offer to be part of a massive Vitamin C
experiment for Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling. The offer was
_Memos from aides to Jones on how Vitamin B complex deficiency
and sleep deprivation were useful brainwashing tools.
_Dozens of notes from temple members to Jones suggesting
revenge on temple defectors, including the idea of selling
poisoned Christmas candy door-to-door.
_Temple letters urging Soviet officials to let them set up a
commune on the Black Sea.