The Black Hole of Guyana by John Judge
The headlines the day of the massacre read: "Cult Dies in South American Jungle: 400 Die in Mass Suicide, 700 Flee into Jungle." By all accounts in the press, as well as People's Temple statements there were at least 1,100 people at Jonestown. There were 809 adult passports found there, and reports of 300 children (276 found among the dead, and 210 never identified). The headline figures from the first day add to the same number: 1,100. The original body count done by the Guyanese was 408, and this figure was initially agreed to by U.S. Army authorities on site. However, over the next few days, the total of reported dead began to rise quickly. The Army made a series of misleading and openly false statements about the discrepancy. The new total, which was the official final count, was given almost a week later by American authorities as 913. A total of 16 survivors were reported to have returned to the U.S. Where were the others?
At their first press conference, the Americans claimed that the Guyanese "could not count." These local people had carried out the gruesome job of counting the bodies, and later assisted American troops in the process of poking holes in the flesh lest they explode from the gasses of decay. Then the Americans proposed another theory -- they had missed seeing a pile of bodies at the back of the pavilion. The structure was the size of a small house, and they had been at the scene for days. Finally, we were given the official reason for the discrepancy -- bodies had fallen on top of other bodies, adults covering children.
It was a simple, if morbid, arithmetic that led to the first suspicions. The 408 bodies discovered at first count would have to be able to cover 505 bodies for a total of 913. In addition, those who first worked on the bodies would have been unlikely to miss bodies lying beneath each other since each body had to be punctured. Eighty-two of the bodies first found were those of children, reducing the number that could have been hidden below others. A search of nearly 150 photographs, aerial and close-up, fails to show even one body lying under another, much less 500.
It seemed the first reports were true, 400 had died, and 700 had fled to the jungle. The American authorities claimed to have searched for people who had escaped, but found no evidence of any in the surrounding area. At least a hundred Guyanese troops were among the first to arrive, and they were ordered to search the jungle for survivors. In the area, at the same time, British Black Watch troops were on "training exercises," with nearly 600 of their best-trained commandos. Soon, American Green Berets were on site as well. The presence of these soldiers, specially trained in covert killing operations, may explain the increasing numbers of bodies that appeared. Read more.
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