A CULT’S DARK DE­SCENT: TIME­LINE

WHO - - Crime -

1955

Jim Jones (left, in Los An­ge­les, 1974) forms the Peo­ples Tem­ple Chris­tian Church, in Indianapolis, to preach his gospel of racial equal­ity.

1965

Jones moves his con­gre­ga­tion to Cal­i­for­nia. By 1972 he claimed to have as many as 20,000 mem­bers. Among them: Jerry and Pa­tri­cia Parks and their chil­dren Brenda, Dale and Tracy.

July 1976

Peo­ples Tem­ple mem­ber Grace Stoen de­fects, leav­ing her 4-year-old son, John (above), in the care of tem­ple mem­bers. Be­cause her hus­band, Tim, has signed an af­fi­davit declar­ing Jones is John’s bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther, Jones re­fuses to re­lease John to her. She files for cus­tody.

Aug. 1, 1977

Af­ter San Fran­cisco mag­a­zine New West pub­lishes a story ac­cus­ing Jones of fi­nan­cial im­pro­pri­ety and or­der­ing phys­i­cal as­saults, he moves his church and fol­low­ers to a re­mote com­pound on 1500ha of land in Guyana, tak­ing 5-year-old John Stoen along with him.

Nov. 18, 1977

A Cal­i­for­nia judge in San Fran­cisco awards cus­tody of John to Grace, with vis­i­ta­tion rights given to Tim. The judge fur­ther rules Jones’s rights as John’s guardian are void and or­ders that “all ac­tions nec­es­sary” be taken to re­turn John to his par­ents.

Nov. 17, 1978

At the urg­ing of the Stoens and other for­mer Peo­ples Tem­ple mem­bers, con­gres­sional Rep. Leo Ryan (left) trav­els to Jonestown to meet with Jones.

Nov. 18, 1978

Ryan leaves the camp with 15 church de­fec­tors, in­clud­ing Tracy and her fam­ily. Jones sup­port­ers at­tack the group at the air­port, fa­tally shoot­ing Ryan, three jour­nal­ists and Tracy’s mother, Pa­tri­cia (left); Jerry tends to the wounded as Tracy and her sis­ter, along with oth­ers, flee into the jun­gle.

Nov. 18, 1978

Shortly af­ter the airstrip mas­sacre, Jones calls his fol­low­ers to the pavil­ion and tells them there is “no hope” and they must all com­mit “rev­o­lu­tion­ary sui­cide.” Armed tem­ple mem­bers en­sure ev­ery­one takes cyanide-laced punch. Some 605 adults and 304 chil­dren die, in­clud­ing John, the child at the cen­tre of the cus­tody bat­tle, and Jones him­self. Tracy and her group are res­cued.

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