Where the machine shop once stood, there was only rusty equipment. “So much was attractive and unique that we turned a blind eye on what was wrong,” he said, including his father’s sexual excesses, drug abuse and rants. After more than 22 years at California’s transportation department, Smith retired in 2015. Four granite slabs are etched with names of the 918 people who died in Guyana— including James Warren Jones, which deeply offends some whose relatives perished. Now, Stephan Jones is father of three daughters, ages 16, 25 and 29, and works in the office furniture installation business. “What we were calling the cause really was Jim,” she said. Though he waved and smiled at Peoples Temple services, seemingly enraptured like the rest, Stephan Gandhi Jones says he always had his doubts. Life became more tolerable after the couple’s baby, Martin Luther Smith, was born. JONESTOWN SURVIVORS: Where they are 40 years later. At first it was spanking of children. Rebelling, they refused Jones’ order to come back. His biggest regrets revolve around the team’s refusal to return to Jonestown. Devotion to its ideals bolstered her self-worth. Four granite slabs are etched with names of the 918 people who died in Guyana— including James Warren Jones, which deeply offends some whose relatives perished. Dozens of Peoples Temple members in Guyana survived the mass suicides and murders of more than 900 because they had slipped out of Jonestown or happened to be away Nov. 18, 1978. And Smith’s wife, son and mother died. It's a sacred time and space. He was briefly romantically involved with Spencer Duhm, a contestant on Survivor: Tocantins. tap here to see other videos from our team. Even the dogs that lived in Jonestown had been poisoned and now lay dead on sidewalks near the pavilion. This website uses cookies to personalize your content (including ads), and allows us to analyze our traffic. For an optimal experience visit … Survivor recounts the Jonestown Massacre 40 years later Decades later a handful of survivors and Indiana families are still tormented by what occurred in the jungle home of the People’s Temple. That way no one else would want to live. He remarried three decades ago, and he and his wife, Erin, raised three sons. At 16, she was put on the Planning Commission where the meetings were a strange mix of church business, sex talk — and adulation for Jones. Todd Herzog won it all on Survivor: China. For years, Vilchez was ashamed of the part she played in an idealistic group that imploded so terribly. The murders and suicides were unfolding, 150 miles away. Now 58, he owns a modular office furniture business in the East Bay and is married with a daughter. Ollie worked in the nursery, and Eugene felled trees. “There is no way we would be shooting at the airstrip. After Ollie became pregnant, she was sent to Jonestown; Eugene remained behind. “Now I just hit the hell out of drums instead of raising my voice. One day, when she was in high school, she came home and told her parents that her religion class had discussed Peoples Temple; only then did her father share the story of how his family was nearly wiped out. When Jim Sr., a local Democratic Party darling, met with future first lady Rosalynn Carter, Jim Jr. proudly went along. The Jonestown memorial is at Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland, Calif. He converted to Catholicism and registered Republican. The Peoples Temple Agricultural Project, better known by its informal name "Jonestown", was a remote settlement in Guyana, established by the Peoples Temple, a San Francisco-based cult under the leadership of Jim Jones.. But Stephan was the biological son of Jim and Marceline Jones. As a self-taught bulldozer operator, he worked alongside other Peoples Temple members in the humid heat, his blade carving roads and sites for wooden buildings with metal roofs. Dozens of Peoples Temple members in Guyana survived the mass suicides and murders of more than 900 because they had slipped out of Jonestown or happened to be away Nov. 18, 1978. He says his daughters have seen him gnash his teeth when he talks about his father, but they also have heard him speak lovingly of the man who taught him compassion and other virtues. It would become a little town where people of all ages and colours raised food and children. More than 900 people lived in the agricultural mission, with its dining pavilion, tidy cottages, school, medical facilities and rows of crops. Rescue came the next day. That way no one else would want to live. When Jim Sr., a local Democratic Party darling, met with future first lady Rosalynn Carter, Jim Jr. proudly went along. “She gives us the order that we were supposed to kill ourselves,” Vilchez recalled. In code, his father told him everyone was going to die in “revolutionary suicide.”, “I argued with my Dad,” he said. “We were trying to build a new world, a progressive socialist organization.”. “I focused my rage on Dad and his circle, rather than deal with me,” he said. Jones berated three other new arrivals for misbehavior on the trip; they were beaten and forced to work 24 hours straight. Some have come to acknowledge that they helped enable Jim Jones to seize control over people drawn to his interracial church, socialist preaching and religious hucksterism. But he said his discontent festered. "The names of the people who died in the Twin Towers were read immediately, but it took 33 years for the Peoples Temple to get this public memorial," she said. Jordan Vilchez’s parents were Berkeley progressives in the 1960s — her father African-American, her mother Scotch-Irish. On Nov. 18 she was at the temple house when a fanatical Jones aide received a dire radio message from Jonestown. But some lived. This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Rosalynn Carter’s first name. ‘I Felt Trapped In Jonestown,’ Says Survivor Of 1978 Massacre Vernon is a former member of Jim Jones’s infamous cult, the Peoples Temple, who arrived at Jonestown in … Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings. Dozens of Peoples Temple members in Guyana survived the mass suicides and murders of more than 900 because they had slipped out of Jonestown or happened to be away Nov. 18, 1978. Mike Touchette, a survivor of the Jonestown mass suicides and murders in Guyana, poses for a portrait on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, in Miami Springs, Fla. “We built a community out of nothing in four years,” recalled Touchette, now a 65-year-old grandfather who has worked for a Miami hydraulics company for nearly 30 years. She gave her house to the Peoples Temple and they moved to San Francisco. The violence at the end was tragic and shocking. Dozens of members in Guyana slipped out of Jonestown or happened to be away that day. The Peoples Temple's pet around the altar, many of them arm-in-arm. But the entertainers stayed in Jonestown to entertain Ryan. Jones berated three other new arrivals for misbehaviour on the trip; they were beaten and forced to work 24 hours straight. He too was a member of the basketball team. Now, Stephan Jones is father of three daughters, ages 16, 25 and 29, and works in the office furniture installation business. Plunged into a new world, those raised in the temple or who joined as teens lost the only life they knew: church, jobs, housing — and most of all, family and friends. They had done their research, and they figured out who would present the best case for Jonestown. He did.”. This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. He built a long career in health care, while weathering his own serious health problems. “The reality was we were folks who could be counted on to stand up,” he said. Of course, even if he wanted to forget Jonestown, his name was an ever-present reminder. In code, his father told him everyone was going to die in “revolutionary suicide.”, “I argued with my Dad,” he said. “I was going back to retrieve that young person and also to say goodbye.”. Now 58, he owns a modular office furniture business in the East Bay and is married with a daughter. “She gives us the order that we were supposed to kill ourselves,” Vilchez recalled. He was summoned to the temple radio room. We apologize, but this video has failed to load. “When I left at 21, I left a part of myself there,” she said. Stephan Jones and some other team members believe they might have changed history if they were there. “To me, the ends justified the means,” he said. He remarried three decades ago, and he and his wife, Erin, raised three sons. Parvati Shallow, Yul Kwon, Rob Mariano and Michele Fitzgerald: If you've been wondering where these Survivor winners are today, then you're in luck. Of course, even if he wanted to forget Jonestown, his name was an ever-present reminder. Eugene Smith recalls how his mother, a churchgoing African-American, bought into Jim Jones’ dream after they attended a service in Fresno. There, as part of Jones’ personal security detail, Cobb saw the once captivating minister strung out on drugs, afraid to venture anywhere for fear of his legal problems. For one thing, you have Survivor… Vilchez returned to Jonestown for the first time in 40 years. “What we were calling the cause really was Jim,” she said. People who survived lost everything, and everyone, they had. But he said his discontent festered. After his stint on the series, Herzog went on to try being a hairstylist. As a San Francisco high school student, he was dispatched to help build Jonestown. Four decades after over 900 followers of Jim Jones committed suicide at Jonestown, survivor Tracy Parks recounts her escape from the horrors of the group's compound in the Guyana rainforest And when her 23-year-old sister joined, Jordan went to live with her at age 12. “The temple really became my family,” she said. Jonestown survivor Jakari Wilson (above) is serving life in prison for attempted murder. Devotion to its ideals bolstered her self-worth. Stephan helped erect a basketball court and form a team. His biggest regrets revolve around the team’s refusal to return to Jonestown. Read more about cookies here. “In an hour, that promise was broken.”. When the prodigals visited, the Cobbs kept it secret from Jones. “I focused my rage on Dad and his circle, rather than deal with me,” he said. Dozens of Peoples Temple members in Guyana survived the mass suicides and murders of more than 900 because they had slipped out of Jonestown or happened to be away Nov. 18, 1978. Within minutes, the aide and her three children lay dead in a bloody bathroom, their throats slit. In this Nov. 13, 2008 file photo, Stephan Jones, son of Rev. He has taken a lead role in a 40th Jonestown anniversary memorial to be held Sunday at Oakland’s Evergreen Cemetery, where remains of unclaimed and unidentified victims are buried. The reunion with Jones was not as joyous. “If anything, we felt pity for him,” he said, “and it grew into a dislike, maybe hate.”. And she could only sense the site of the pavilion, the once-vibrant centre of Jonestown life where so many died — including her two sisters and two nephews. When a friend invited her family to Peoples Temple’s wine country church, they were impressed by the integrated community. In California, he was steeped in temple life. “Being in Jonestown before Jim got there was the best thing in my life.”. Cobb lost 11 relatives that day, including his mother, youngest brother and four sisters. Then, after a 1977 New West magazine expose of temple disciplinary beatings and other abuses, she was sent to Jonestown. After Ollie became pregnant, she was sent to Jonestown; Eugene remained behind. Rebelling, they refused Jones’ order to come back. He has taken a lead role in a 40th Jonestown anniversary memorial to be held Sunday at Oakland’s Evergreen Cemetery, where remains of unclaimed and unidentified victims are buried. “We built a community out of nothing in four years,” recalled Touchette, now a 65-year-old grandfather who has worked for a Miami hydraulics company for nearly 30 years. He was a master manipulator and was the youngest person ever to win the show at age 22. They, too, are counted as survivors, though most of them remained in Georgetown and never got to Jonestown. It would become a little town where people of all ages and colors raised food and children. After the temple exodus to Guyana, he was given a public relations post in Georgetown — and was part of the basketball team. Ollie worked in the nursery, and Eugene felled trees. Johnston Kohl’s book is the tenth book I’ve read about Jonestown. “So much was attractive and unique that we turned a blind eye on what was wrong,” he said, including his father’s sexual excesses, drug abuse and rants. Now, Stephan Jones is … With their lives, the story of Jonestown continues, even now. And Smith’s wife, son and mother died. But now… “Like everyone else, he died there,” his son said. Then it was boxing matches for adults. And the temple was his life — first in Indiana, later in California. Those who broke rules were disciplined. “Being in Jonestown before Jim got there was the best thing in my life.”. Jim Jr. would lose 15 immediate relatives in Jonestown, including his pregnant wife, Yvette Muldrow. “There is no way we would be shooting at the airstrip. Grueling field work was not to her liking. Many people were scarred by their experience in Peoples Temple and in Jonestown. This November 1978 file photo shows the bodies of Peoples Temple mass suicide victims led by Jim Jones in Jonestown, Guyana. It was he who dreamed up Jonestown, he who willed it into being, and he who brought it down: first, with the assassination of U.S. Rep. Leo Ryan and four others by temple members on a nearby airstrip on Nov. 18, 1978, then with the mass murders and suicides of hundreds, a horror that remains nearly unimaginable 40 years later. “To me, the ends justified the means,” he said. In California, he was steeped in temple life. When he was ordered to Georgetown to help with supply shipments, Smith said he concocted an escape plan: Ollie and other temple singers and dancers, he believed, would soon be sent to Georgetown to perform, and the family would flee to the U.S. Embassy. The church provided free drug rehabilitation, medical care, food. The Joneses adopted a black baby in Indiana in 1960, and Jim gave the 10-week-old infant his own name. To cope, he says he abused drugs and exercised obsessively. Keep reading to see photos of the abandoned, swampy village, which is now an overgrown jungle with just a few rusted buildings and vehicle remains. Stephan Jones and some other team members believe they might have changed history if they were there. It was 42 years ago, on November 18, 1978, that cult leader Jim Jones encouraged a mass suicide in Guyana — where more than 900 of his followers died … In the aftermath, he built a new life. “I believe 100 percent that not everyone would have been dead,” he said. It was he who dreamed up Jonestown, he who willed it into being, and he who brought it down: first, with the assassination of U.S. Rep. Leo Ryan and four others by temple members on a nearby airstrip on Nov. 18, 1978, then with the mass murders and suicides of hundreds, a horror that remains nearly unimaginable 40 years later. 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