Nearly 1,000 people followed Jones to Jonestown, supposedly a well-planned community with a clinic, school and communal kitchen. Over time, however, Jones' behavior became alarming. It was rumored he was abusing drugs, and he would give speeches over a loud speaker that were said to be increasingly frantic.

In the United States, former church members were complaining that Jones was holding their loved ones against their will, so U.S. Rep. Leo Ryan of California traveled to Jonestown to investigate the allegations. Slowly, members came forward to tell U.S. Rep. Ryan that they wanted to leave.

Jim Jones appeared calm, but behind the scenes he had ordered what he called the avenging angels to take action. They ambushed U.S. Rep. Ryan at the airstrip, and he and four others were killed.

Back at Jonestown, Jones called an emergency meeting and told his followers to drink a poisonous liquid from a large metal vat—babies and children first, then adults. More than 900 people, including nearly 300 children, died.


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