The Silent Twins

June and Jennifer were the daughters of Caribbean immigrants Gloria and Aubrey Gibbons. Gloria was a housewife and Aubrey worked as a technician for the Royal Air Force.The twins were born in April, 1963 at a military hospital in Aden, Yemen, where their father had been deployed.  The couple also had 2 other kids, Greta, born in 1957 and David, born in 1959.

The family soon relocated from Barbados—first to England, and in 1974, to Haverfordwest, Wales. They started talking late and when they finally did speak, their words came out garbled. They chirped and squeaked, enunciating the wrong syllables. No one else could understand them. It was like they were speaking a foreign language. They both moved in a sort of synchronicity. 

The family’s children were the only black children in the community. All of the children were often ostracized at school. This proved to be traumatic for the twins, eventually causing their school administrators to dismiss them early each day so that they might avoid bullying. Their language became even more idiosyncratic at this time. Soon it was unintelligible to others. Their language, or idioglossia, qualified as an example of cryptophasia, exemplified by the twins’ simultaneous actions, which often mirrored each other. The twins became increasingly reserved and eventually spoke to no one except each other and their younger sister Rose.

The girls continued to attend school, although they refused to read or write. In 1974, a medic administering vaccinations at the school noted their impassive behaviour and notified a child psychologist. The twins began seeing a succession of therapists who tried unsuccessfully to get them to communicate with others. They were sent to separate boarding schools in an attempt to break their isolation, but the pair became catatonic and entirely withdrawn when parted.

When they were reunited, the two spent several years isolating themselves in their bedroom, engaged in elaborate plays with dolls. They created many plays and stories in a sort of soap opera style, reading some of them aloud on tape as gifts for their sister Rose. Inspired by a pair of gift diaries on Christmas 1979, they began their writing careers. They sent away for a mail order course in creative writing, and each kept an extensive diary and wrote a number of stories, poems and novels. Set primarily in the United States and particularly in Malibu, California, the stories involve young men and women who exhibit strange and often criminal behaviour.

June wrote a novel titled Pepsi-Cola Addict, in which the high-school hero is seduced by a teacher, then sent away to a reformatory where a homosexual guard makes a play for him.The two girls pooled together their unemployment benefits in order to get the novel published by a vanity press.

 Their other attempts to publish novels and stories were unsuccessful. In Jennifer’s The Pugilist, a physician is so eager to save his child’s life that he kills the family dog to obtain its heart for a transplant. The dog’s spirit lives on in the child and ultimately has its revenge against the father. Jennifer also wrote Discomania, the story of a young woman who discovers that the atmosphere of a local disco incites patrons to insane violence. She followed up with The Taxi-Driver’s Son, a radio play called Postman and Postwoman, and several short stories. 

They also kept very extensive diaries.  Often writing multiple times a day. The twins wrote about how trapped or sometimes even possessed or tortured they felt by each other. So even though they only talk to each other, they actually don’t really like each other and they blamed the other twin for the fact that they didn’t talk and was so isolated. 

Here is a quote from one diary: “We have become fatal enemies in each other’s eyes. We feel the irritating deadly rays come out of our bodies, stinging each other’s skin. I say to myself, can I get rid of my own shadow – impossible or not possible? Without my shadow, would I die? Without my shadow, would I gain life, be free or left to die? Without my shadow, which I identify with a face of misery, deception, murder.”

In their later teenage years, the twins began experimenting with drugs and alcohol.  In 1981,so they were 18 ish at the time, the girls committed a number of crimes including vandalism, petty theft and arson, which led to their being admitted to Broadmoor Hospital, a high-security mental health hospital. The twins were sentenced to indefinite detention under the Mental Health Act 1983.

 They remained at Broadmoor for eleven years. June later blamed this lengthy sentence on their selective muteness: “Juvenile delinquents get two years in prison… We got twelve years of hell because we didn’t speak… We lost hope, really. I wrote a letter to the Queen, asking her to get us out. But we were trapped.” Placed on high doses of antipsychotic medications, they found themselves unable to concentrate; Jennifer apparently developed tardive dyskinesia (a neurological disorder resulting in involuntary, repetitive movements). Their medications were apparently adjusted sufficiently to allow them to continue the copious diaries they had begun in 1980  but they lost most of their interest in creative writing.

The case achieved notoriety due to newspaper coverage by journalist Marjorie Wallace of The Sunday Times. Wallace later wrote a book about the two called The Silent Twins, published in 1986.

Marjorie went to visit June and Jennifer in prison, where they were awaiting trial. She thought she might be able to break through their silence.

Wallace says the twins were brought in and that was the most extraordinary moment. First of all, two of the prison warders took one twin in, just leaning like a plank or like a coffin really, on their shoulders and that they just got her in and she sat down and her eyes were downcast. She didn’t move, her hands just hanging by her side. And then the second twin came in and the same thing happened, and they just sat there. And then suddenly I said, do you know, June and Jennifer, I’ve read some of your writings? And suddenly, I saw a little flicker in June’s eyes. She started to look up, and there was a little twitching of her lips, and with great difficulty she got out the words “did you like them?”

So Wallace realizes that the twins desperately wanted to be recognized and famous through their writings, to have them published and to have their story told. And she thought that maybe one way of freeing them would be to unlock them from that silence.

The doctors thought June and Jennifer were deeply disturbed and dangerous. Some days, only one twin would eat, and the next day, the other would indulge as her sister starved. Other times, the nurses would find them frozen in the same pose, even though they were locked in cells on opposite ends of the hospital.

Wallace goes to visit the twins right before they are supposed to be transferred to a new facility. Jennifer told her “ I’m going to have to die, and Wallace sort of laughed and sort of asked what? Don’t be silly. You’re 31 years old. You know, you’re just about to be freed from Broadmoor. Why are you going to have to die? You’re not ill. 

And she said, because we’ve decided. At that point, Wallace says she  got very, very frightened because she could see that they meant it. And then they said, we have made a pact. Jennifer has got to die because they said the day that they left Broadmoor, the day that they were free from the secure hospital, one of them would have to give up their life to really enable the other one to be free. Wallace  later found out that they had been quarreling violently – from the staff at Broadmoor – about who was going to die. And then they passed over a poem that they’d written, which was “that two is your laughing, that two is your smiling and now I’m dead, that too is your crying.”

Jennifer’s cheekbones were very thin and her face looked very flushed. She looked, Wallace says quite afraid. June looked determined. Wallace  was very disturbed at the end of this visit.

Marjorie immediately called their doctors, who said they were monitoring the twins and told her not to worry. She just waited, hoping to get a call that the twins had arrived safely at Caswell. Finally, she heard from one of the doctors.

 In March 1993, the twins were transferred from Broadmoor to the more open Caswell Clinic in Bridgend, Wales. On arrival Jennifer could not be roused. She was taken to the hospital where she died soon after of acute myocarditis, a sudden inflammation of the heart. There was no evidence of drugs or poison in her system, and her death remains a mystery. Some doctors thought the high dose of medication she took at Broadmoor might have weakened her immune system ,but the twins had received the same treatment during their time in Broadmoor. And June was in good health when Jennifer died.

At the inquest, June revealed that Jennifer had been acting strangely for about a day before their release; her speech had been slurring, and she had said that she was dying. On the trip to Caswell, she had slept in June’s lap with her eyes open.  On a visit a few days later, Wallace recounted that June “was in a strange mood”. She said, “I’m free at last, liberated, and at last Jennifer has given up her life for me”. Jennifer was buried in St Martin’s Cemetery in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

After Jennifer’s death, June gave interviews with Harper’s Bazaar and The Guardian.  By 2008, she was living quietly and independently, near her parents in West Wales.  She was no longer monitored by psychiatric services, has been accepted by her community, and sought to put the past behind her. A 2016 interview with her sister Greta revealed that the family had been deeply troubled by the girls’ incarceration. She blamed Broadmoor for ruining their lives and for neglecting Jennifer’s health. She had wanted to file a lawsuit against Broadmoor, but Aubrey and Gloria refused, saying it would not bring Jennifer back.

The pair were the subject of the 1986 tv drama The Silent Twins, broadcast on BBC2, and an Inside Story documentary Silent Twin – Without My Shadow, which aired on BBC1 in September 1994. A play based on Wallace’s book, titled Speechless, debuted in London in 2011.


E9-Kidnappings

We’re talking about 2 kidnappings today. 


Johnny Gosch

John David Gosch was born November 12, 1969. On Sunday, September 5, 1982, in the suburb of West Des Moines, Johnny Gosch left home before dawn to begin his paper route.  Although it was customary for Johnny to awaken his father to help with the route, the boy took only the family’s miniature dachshund, Gretchen, with him that morning. Other paper carriers for The Des Moines Register would later report having seen Gosch at the paper drop, picking up his newspapers. It was the last sighting of Gosch that can be corroborated by multiple witnesses.

A neighbor named Mike reported that he observed Gosch talking to a stocky man in a blue two-toned Ford Fairmont with Nebraska plates. Mike did not know what was discussed because he was observing from his bedroom window. As Gosch headed home, Mike noticed another man following Gosch. Another witness, John Rossi, saw a man in a blue car talking to Gosch and “thought something was strange”. He looked at the license plate, but could not recall the plate number. He said, “I keep hoping I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and see that number on the license plate as distinctly as night and day, but that hasn’t happened.” Rossi underwent hypnosis and told police some of the numbers and that the plate was from Warren County, Iowa.

John and Noreen Gosch, Johnny’s parents, began receiving phone calls from customers along their son’s route, complaining of undelivered papers. John performed a cursory search of the neighborhood around 6 a.m. He immediately found Johnny’s wagon full of newspapers two blocks from their home. The Gosches immediately contacted the West Des Moines police department, and reported Johnny’s disappearance. 

Noreen, in her public statements and her book Why Johnny Can’t Come Home, has been critical of what she perceives as a slow reaction time from authorities, and of the policy at the time that Gosch could not be classified as a missing person until 72 hours had passed. By her estimation, the police did not arrive to take her report for a full 45 minutes.

Initially, the police came to believe that Gosch was a runaway, but later they changed their statement and suggested that Gosch was kidnapped, but they were unable to establish a viable motive. They turned up little evidence and arrested no suspects in connection with the case.

A few months after his September 1982 disappearance, Noreen Gosch has said her son was spotted in Oklahoma, when a boy yelled to a woman for help before being dragged off by two men.

Over the years, several private investigators have assisted the Gosches with the search for their son. Among them are Jim Rothstein, a retired New York City police detective and Ted Gunderson, a retired chief of the Los Angeles FBI branch.

In 1984, Gosch’s photograph appeared alongside that of Juanita Rafaela Estevez on milk cartons across America; they were the second and third abducted children to have their plights publicized in this way. The first was Etan Patz.  

The case generated national interest as Noreen Gosch became more and more vocal about the inadequacy of law enforcement’s investigation of missing children cases. She established the Johnny Gosch Foundation in 1982, through which she visited schools and spoke at seminars about the MO of sexual predators. She lobbied for “The Johnny Gosch Bill”, state legislation which would mandate an immediate police response to reports of missing children. The bill became law in Iowa in 1984, and similar or identical laws were later passed in Missouri and seven other states.

In August 1984, Noreen Gosch testified in Senate hearings on organized crime, speaking about “organized pedophilia” and its alleged role in her son’s abduction. She began receiving death threats. Gosch also testified before the U.S. Department of Justice, which provided $10 million to establish the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Gosch was invited to the White House by President Ronald Reagan for the dedication ceremony.

On August 12, 1984, Eugene Martin, another Des Moines-area paperboy, disappeared under similar circumstances. He disappeared while delivering newspapers on the south side of Des Moines.

Authorities were unable to prove a connection between the three cases, yet Noreen Gosch claims that she was personally informed of the abduction a few months in advance by a private investigator who was searching for her son. She was told the kidnapping “would take place the second weekend in August 1984 and it would be a paperboy from the southside of Des Moines.  

On March 29, 1986 — the day before Easter — 13-year-old Marc James Warren Allen told his mother he planned to walk to a friend’s house down the street but never arrived at the neighbor’s home and hasn’t been seen since. 

According to Noreen Gosch’s account, she was awakened around 2:30 a.m. one morning in March 1997 by a knock at her apartment door. Waiting outside was Johnny Gosch, now 27, accompanied by an unidentified man. Gosch said she immediately recognized her son, who opened his shirt to reveal a birthmark on his chest. “We talked about an hour or an hour and a half. He was with another man, but I have no idea who the person was. Johnny would look over to the other person for approval to speak,” says Gosch. “He didn’t say where he is living or where he was going.” In a 2005 interview, Gosch said, “The night that he came here, he was wearing jeans and a shirt and had a coat on because it was March. It was cold and his hair was long; it was shoulder-length and it was straight and dyed black.” After the visit, she had the FBI create a picture she says looked like Johnny.

Gosch self-published a book in 2000 titled Why Johnny Can’t Come Home. The book is about her understanding of what her son went through, based on the original research of various private investigators and her son’s visit.

On September 1, 2006, Gosch reported that she found photographs left at her front door, some of which she posted on her website. One color photo shows three boys bound and gagged. She claims that a black-and-white photo appears to show 12-year-old Johnny Gosch with his mouth gagged, his hands and feet tied, and an apparent human brand on his shoulder. A third photo shows a man, possibly dead, who may have something tied around his neck. Mrs. Gosch alleged the man was one of the perpetrators who molested her son. Gosch later said the first two photos had originated on a website featuring child pornography.

 On September 13, an anonymous letter was mailed to Des Moines police.

Gentlemen,

Someone has played a reprehensible joke on a grieving mother. The photo in question is not one of her son but of three boys in Tampa, Florida about 1979–80, challenging each other to an escape contest. There was an investigation concerning that picture, made by the Hillsborough County (FL) Sheriff’s Office. No charges were filed, and no wrongdoing was established. The lead detective on the case was named Zalva. This allegation should be easy enough to check out.

Nelson Zalva, who worked for the Hillsborough County, Florida Sheriff’s Office in the 1970s, said the details of the letter were true and adds that he also investigated the black-and-white photo in “1978 or 1979”, before Gosch’s disappearance. “I interviewed the kids, and they said there was no coercion or touching. … I could never prove a crime,” Zalva says.  When asked for proof that this was indeed the same photo from the investigation nearly three decades prior, Zalva could not provide any. According to the documentary film Who Took Johnny which came out in 2004, only three boys in the pictures were identified by law enforcement, but not the one thought to be Johnny. Noreen Gosch still believes the pictures to be of her son. 

Now things start to get a little weird.  In 1989, a 21-year-old Paul A. Bonacci told his attorney John DeCamp that he had been abducted into a sex ring with Gosch as a teenager and was forced to participate in Gosch’s kidnapping.

John DeCamp met with Bonacci and believed he was telling the truth. Noreen later met him and said he told her things “he could know only from talking with her son.” He said that Johnny had a birthmark on his chest, a scar on his tongue and a burn scar on his lower leg; although a description of the birthmark had been widely circulated, information about the scars had not been made public. Bonacci also described a stammer that Johnny had when he was upset. The FBI and local police do not believe that Bonacci is a credible witness in the case and have not interviewed him.

Bonacci accused Republican party activist and businessman Lawrence E. King Jr (b. 1944) who also served as director of the Franklin Credit Union in Omaha, Nebraska, of running an underage prostitution ring and victimizing him since an early age. n 1988, authorities looked into allegations that prominent citizens of Nebraska, as well as high-level U.S. politicians, were involved in a child prostitution ring. Alleged abuse victims were interviewed, who claimed that children in foster care were flown to the East Coast of the United States to be sexually abused at “bad parties”. The claims primarily centered on Lawrence E. King Jr., who ran the now defunct Franklin Community Federal Credit Union in Omaha, Nebraska, and alleged that the ring was “a cult of devil worshipers involved in the mutilation, sacrifice and cannibalism of numerous children”. Numerous conspiracy theories evolved, claiming that the alleged abuse was part of a widespread series of crimes including devil worship, cannibalism, drug trafficking, and CIA arms dealing.

In 1990, a county grand jury declined to charge King, finding the allegations to be “a carefully crafted hoax”. Paul Bonacci and Alisha Owen were indicted on state perjury charges. A federal grand jury also declined to indict anyone for child prostitution but did return indictments against Owen for perjury and King for fraud related to the credit union;  the latter was accused of looting $40 million from the bank and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. The bank was shut down in November 1988 when it was raided by the FBI, the IRS and the NCUA. King was released from prison in April 2001.

On February 27, 1999, the U.S. District Court of the District of Nebraska awarded Bonacci $1 million in compensatory damages and punitive damages. Bonacci had sued King, who failed to respond to the civil lawsuit. Thus a default judgment was entered against King, who ceased his appeal attempt in early 2000.


E8- Cults Part 2

We have 2 new cults to talk about: Jonestown and Rajneeshpuram. Then we chat about the psychology of cults.


Jim Jones and Jonestown

James Warren Jones or Jim Jones as he is more commonly known, was born on May 13, 1931. He was an American cult leader, political activist, preacher and faith healer who led the Peoples Temple, a new religious organization which existed between 1955 and 1978.

As a child, Jones was a voracious reader who studied Joseph Stalin, Karl Marx, Gandhi, and Adolf Hitler. He also developed an intense interest in religion. One writer suggests this was primarily because he found it difficult to make friends. Childhood acquaintances recalled Jones as a “really weird kid” who was obsessed with religion and death, alleging that he frequently held funerals for small animals on his parents’ property and that he had stabbed a cat to death. One childhood acquaintance noted that, after German prisoners-of-war arrived in Lynn, the city he lived in, during World War II, one patted young Jones on the back of the head, to which he responded by giving the Nazi salute and shouting “Heil Hitler!”

Jones and a childhood friend both claimed that his father was associated with the KKK, which had become very popular in Depression-era Indiana.  Jones recounted how he and his father argued on the issue of race, and how he did not speak with his father for “many, many years” after he refused to allow one of Jones’s black friends into his house. Jones’s parents separated, and Jones relocated with his mother to Richmond, Indiana.

To support himself, Jones worked as an orderly at Richmond’s Reid Hospital and was well-regarded by the senior management. However, staff members later recalled Jones exhibiting disturbing behavior; one former co-worker of Jones, with whom he had been childhood friends, recalled an incident where Jones manhandled a patient in traction while dry shaving him, resulting in the patient’s injury with a straight razor, and then gave a menacing look at the co-worker. It was at Reid Hospital where Jones met nurse Marceline Baldwin, whom he married in 1949. 

Jones and his wife adopted several non-white children, referring to the household as his “rainbow family”, and stating: “Integration is a more personal thing with me now. It’s a question of my son’s future.” He also portrayed the Temple as a “rainbow family”.

He was ordained as a minister in 1957 by the Independent Assemblies of God.J ones would later claim to be a return of Elijah the Prophet and to be the voice of God, and promote the belief that the end of the world was imminent.  Jones was elected as President of the Worldwide Pentecostal Convention Board in 1957, helping Jones secure connections throughout the Pentecostal movement. In 1964, Jones was ordained by the Disciples of Christ.

The Peoples Temple of the Disciples of Christ, commonly referred to as the Peoples Temple, was a religious organization which existed between 1954 and 1978. Originally founded in Indianapolis, Indiana. Jones distinguished himself with his civil rights activism, founding the Temple as a fully integrated congregation.  The Peoples Temple spread a message that combined elements of Christianity with communist and socialist ideology, with an emphasis on racial equality. In 1965, he moved the Temple to California, the Temple forged ties with many left-wing political figures and boasted 20,000 members (though 3,000–5,000 is more likely).

Although some descriptions of the Peoples Temple emphasize Jones’s autocratic control over its operations, in reality, the Temple possessed a complex leadership structure with decision-making power unevenly dispersed among its members. Within that structure, Temple members were unwittingly and gradually subjected to sophisticated mind control and behavior modification techniques borrowed from post-revolutionary China and North Korea.  The Temple tightly defined psychological boundaries that “enemies”, such as “traitors” to the Temple, crossed at their own peril. So if you try and leave or even disagree you were putting yourself at risk. While the secrecy and caution Jones demanded in recruiting led to decreased overall membership, they also helped him foster hero-worship of himself as the “ultimate socialist”.

In the 1970s, the Temple established a more formal hierarchy for its socialistic model. At the top were the Temple’s staff, a select group of predominantly college-educated white women that undertook the Temple’s most sensitive missions. They necessarily acclimated themselves to an “ends justify the means” philosophy. The earliest member was Sandy Bradshaw, a socialist from Syracuse, New York. Others included Carolyn Layton, a communist since the age of 15 who had a child with Jones; Sharon Amos, who worked for the social services department; Patty Cartmell, Jones’s secretary; and Teri Buford, a Navy brat turned pacifist. The group was often scorned as elitist within the  Temple organization and viewed as secret police.

Within five years of moving to California, the Temple experienced a period of exponential growth and opened branches in cities including San Fernando, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. By the early 1970s, Jones began shifting his focus to major cities across California. He eventually moved the Temple’s headquarters to San Francisco, which was a major center for radical protest movements. Jones and the Temple soon became influential in city politics, culminating in the Temple’s instrumental role in George Moscone’s election as mayor in 1975. Moscone subsequently appointed Jones as the chairman of the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission.

Jones was able to gain contact with prominent politicians at the local and national level. For example, he and Moscone met privately with vice presidential candidate Walter Mondale on his campaign plane days before the 1976 election, leading Mondale to publicly praise the Temple. First Lady Rosalynn Carter also met with Jones on multiple occasions, corresponded with him about Cuba, and spoke with him at the grand opening of the San Francisco headquarters—where he received louder applause than she did.

Jones also forged alliances with key journalists and others at the San Francisco Chronicle and other press outlets, although the move to San Francisco also brought increasing media scrutiny. Encountering resistance by his editors to publishing an investigative piece about the Temple, Chronicle reporter Marshall Kilduff brought his story to New West magazine.  ust before publication of the New West piece, editor Rosalie Wright telephoned Jones to read him the article. Wright explained that she was only doing so before publication because of “all the support letters we received on your behalf, from the Governor of California [Jerry Brown]” and others. While still on the phone listening to the allegations contained in the article, Jones wrote a note to Temple members in the room with him that said, “We leave tonight. Notify Georgetown (Guyana).” After Jones left for Guyana, he encouraged Temple members to follow him there. The population grew to over 900 people by late 1978.Those who moved there were promised a tropical paradise free from the supposed wickedness of the outside world.

In the summer of 1977, Jones and several hundred followers abruptly decided to move to the Temple’s communal settlement in Guyana – officially called the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project, but informally known as “Jonestown” – after they learned the contents of Kilduff’s article, which included allegations by Temple defectors of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.

Jones had started building Jonestown several years before the New West article was published. It was promoted as a means to create both a “socialist paradise” and a “sanctuary” from the media scrutiny in San Francisco. Jones purported to establish it as a model communist community, adding that the Temple comprised “the purest communists there are”. Jones did not permit members to leave the settlement.

Jones began to propagate his belief in what he termed “Translation” once his followers settled in Jonestown, claiming that he and his followers would all die together, move to another planet, and live blissfully.

In the autumn of 1977, Timothy Stoen and other Temple defectors formed a “Concerned Relatives” group because they had family members remaining in Jonestown. Stoen traveled to Washington, D.C., in January 1978 to visit with State Department officials and members of Congress, and wrote a white paper “A white paper is a report or guide that informs readers concisely about a complex issue and presents the issuing body’s philosophy on the matter. It is meant to help readers understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision.” detailing his grievances against Jones and the Temple. His efforts aroused the curiosity of California Congressman Leo Ryan, who wrote a letter on Stoen’s behalf to Guyanese Prime Minister Forbes Burnham. 

In November 1978, Congressman Ryan led a fact-finding mission to Jonestown to investigate allegations of human-rights abuses. He brought along relatives of Temple members, an NBC camera crew, and reporters for various newspapers. The group arrived in the Guyanese capital of Georgetown on November 15.  Two days later, Jones hosted a reception for the group that evening at the central pavilion in Jonestown, during which Temple member Vernon Gosney passed a note meant for Ryan to NBC reporter Don Harris, requesting assistance for himself and another Temple member, Monica Bagby, in leaving the settlement.

Ryan’s delegation left hurriedly the afternoon of November 18, after Temple member Don Sly attacked the congressman with a knife, though the attack was thwarted.[90] Ryan and his delegation managed to take along fifteen Temple members who had expressed a wish to leave, and Jones made no attempt to prevent their departure at that time.

As members of Ryan’s delegation boarded two planes at the airstrip, Jones’s armed guards, called the “Red Brigade” arrived on a tractor and trailer and began shooting at them. At the same time, one of the supposed defectors, Larry Layton, drew a weapon and began firing on members of the party inside the other plane, a Cessna, NBC cameraman Bob Brown was able to capture footage of the first few seconds of the shooting just before he himself was killed by the gunmen.

The five killed at the airstrip were Ryan; Harris; Brown; San Francisco Examiner photographer Greg Robinson; and Temple member Patricia Parks.  Surviving the attack were future Congresswoman Jackie Speier, a Ryan staff member; Richard Dwyer, Deputy Chief of Mission from the U.S. Embassy in Georgetown; Bob Flick, an NBC producer; Steve Sung, an NBC sound engineer; Tim Reiterman, an Examiner reporter; Ron Javers, a Chronicle reporter; Charles Krause, a Washington Post reporter; and several defecting Temple members.

Later that same day, November 18, 1978, 909 inhabitants of Jonestown, 304 of them children, died of apparent cyanide poisoning, mostly in and around the central pavilion. This resulted in the greatest single loss of American civilian life (murder and suicide, though not on American soil) in a deliberate act until September 11, 2001. The FBI later recovered a 45-minute audio recording of the mass poisoning in progress.

On that tape, Jones tells Temple members that the Soviet Union, with whom the Temple had been negotiating a potential exodus for months, would not give them passage after the airstrip shooting. The reason given by Jones to commit suicide was consistent with his previously stated conspiracy theories of intelligence organizations allegedly conspiring against the Temple, that men would “parachute in here on us”. “shoot some of our innocent babies,” and “they’ll torture our children, they’ll torture some of our people here, they’ll torture our seniors.” Jones’s prior statements that hostile forces would convert captured children to fascism would lead many members, who strongly believed in the Temple’s leftist ideology, to view the supposed suicide as valid.

With that reasoning, Jones and several members argued that the group should commit “revolutionary suicide” by drinking cyanide-laced grape-flavored Flavor Aid. Later-released Temple films show Jones opening a storage container full of Kool-Aid in large quantities. However, empty packets of grape Flavor Aid found on the scene show that this is what was used to mix the solution, along with a sedative. Jones had taken large shipments of cyanide into Jonestown for several years prior to November 1978, having obtained a jeweler’s license that would allow him to purchase the compound in bulk to purportedly clean gold. 

When members apparently cried, Jones counseled, “Stop these hysterics. This is not the way for people who are socialists or communists to die. No way for us to die. We must die with some dignity.” Jones can be heard saying, “Don’t be afraid to die;” that death is “just stepping over into another plane” and that it’s “a friend”. Jones’s wife Marceline apparently protested killing the children; she was forcibly restrained and then joined the other adults in poisoning herself. At the end of the tape, Jones concludes: “We didn’t commit suicide; we committed an act of revolutionary suicide protesting the conditions of an inhumane world.”

According to Temple members Odell Rhodes and Stanley Clayton, who escaped the mass poisoning, children were given the Flavor Aid first by their own parents; families were told to lie down together. Mass suicide had been previously discussed in simulated events called “White Nights” on a regular basis.  During at least one such prior White Night, members drank liquid that Jones falsely told them was poison.

Following the mass murder-suicide, Jones was found dead at the stage of the central pavilion; he was resting on a pillow near his deck chair, with a gunshot wound to his head which the coroner said was consistent with suicide. Jones’s body was later moved outside the pavilion for examination and embalming. The official autopsy conducted in December 1978 also confirms Jones’s death as a suicide. His son Stephan believes his father may have directed someone else to shoot him, but this is speculation.The autopsy also showed levels of the barbiturate pentobarbital in Jones’s body, which may have been lethal to humans who had not developed physiological tolerance. 

3 of Jones’ sons: Stephan, Jim Jr., and Tim Jones survived the events of November 18, 1978, because, being members of the Peoples Temple’s basketball team, they were playing an away game in Georgetown at the time of the mass poisoning.  Stephan and Tim were both 19, and Jim Jones Jr. was 18.

At the end of 1978, the Temple declared bankruptcy, and its assets went into receivership. In light of lawsuits, on December 4, 1978, Charles Garry, the corporation’s attorney, petitioned to dissolve the Temple. The petition was granted in San Francisco Superior Court in January 1979. A few Temple members remained in Guyana through May 1979 in order to wrap up the movement’s affairs, then they returned to the United States 

The Temple’s buildings in Los Angeles, Indianapolis, and Redwood Valley are all intact, as is the Temple’s former Georgetown headquarters. Some former Temple buildings, such as the Los Angeles facility, are presently used by church congregations. The Temple’s former San Francisco headquarters, located at 1859 Geary Boulevard, was destroyed in the 1989 earthquake and the site is now occupied by a Post Office branch.


E7- Heaven’s Gate

Allison tells the tale of Heaven’s Gate cult in this special 2 part episodes on cults


Heaven’s Gate

How does a group of like minded individuals become a cult? Is it their shared beliefs on religion or societal issues? Or do they join based on a kind of mob mentality? Wikipedia defines cults in modern English as a social group that is defined by its unusual religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs, or by its common interest in a particular personality, object, or goal.

This is 2 Girls and a Campfire and I’m Allison. And today we’re talking cults. We are doing a special 2 episode look at 3 different cults and the psychology behind them.  Sara isn’t feeling well so I’ll be talking about the cult, Heaven’s Gate today. 

It was founded in 1974 and led by Bonnie Nettles (1927–1985) and Marshall Applewhite (1931–1997).

The son of a Presbyterian minister and a former soldier, Marshall Applewhite began his foray into biblical prophecy in the early 1970s. After being fired from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas over an alleged relationship with one of his male students, he met Bonnie Nettles, a 44-year-old married nurse with an interest in biblical prophecy, in March 1972. The circumstances of their meeting are disputed. Applewhite later recalled that he felt as though he had known Nettles for a long time and concluded that they had met in a past life. She told him their meeting had been foretold to her by extraterrestrials, persuading him that he had a divine assignment.

Nettles and Applewhite first met in 1972, and went on a journey of spiritual discovery, identifying themselves as the two witnesses of Revelation, attracting a following of several hundred people in the mid 1970s. In 1976, the group stopped recruiting and instituted a monastic lifestyle. Scholars have described the theology of Heaven’s Gate as a mixture of Christian millenarianism, New Age, and Ufology, and as such it has been characterised as a UFO religion.

By June 19, 1976 Applewhite and Nettles’s beliefs had solidified into a basic outline. They concluded that they had been chosen to fulfill biblical prophecies, and that they had been given higher-level minds than other people. They wrote a pamphlet that described Jesus’ reincarnation as a Texan,which was a thinly veiled reference to Applewhite. They also concluded that they were the two witnesses described in the Book of Revelation and occasionally visited churches or other spiritual groups to speak of their identities, often referring to themselves as “The Two”, or “The UFO Two”.  They believed they would be killed and then restored to life and, in view of others, transported onto a spaceship. This event, which they referred to as “the Demonstration”, was to prove their claims. To their dismay, these ideas were poorly received by existing religious communities. Shooker.

The Two would gain their first follower, Sharon Morgan, in May 1974,  who abandoned her children to join them. A month later Sharon left The Two and returned to her family. Nettles and Applewhite were arrested and charged with credit card fraud for using Morgan’s cards, despite the fact that she had consented to their use. The charges were later dropped. However a routine check brought up that Applewhite had stolen a rental car from St. Louis 9 months earlier, which he was still in possession of. Applewhite subsequently spent six months in jail primarily in Missouri, and was released in early 1975, where he rejoined Nettles.

Eventually, Applewhite and Nettles resolved to contact extraterrestrials, and they sought like-minded followers. They published advertisements for meetings, where they recruited disciples, whom they called “the crew”. At the events, they claimed to represent beings from another planet, which was called the Next Level, who sought participants for an experiment. They stated that those who agreed to take part in the experiment would be brought to a higher evolutionary level. In April 1975, during a meeting with a metaphysical group of eighty people led by Clarence Klug in Joan Culpepper’s Studio City, Los Angeles home, they shared their “simultaneous” revelation that they had been told they were the two witnesses written into the Bible’s story of the end time. While accounts of the meeting differ, all describe it as momentous and that agree that Applewhite and Nettles presented themselves as charismatic leaders with an important spiritual message. About 25 people decided to join the group as a result of the meeting.

Later, in September 1975, Applewhite and Nettles preached at a motel hall in Waldport, Oregon. After selling all “worldly” possessions and saying farewell to loved ones, around 20 people vanished from the hotel and from the public eye and joined the group. Later that year, on CBS Evening News, Walter Cronkite reported on the disappearances, in one of the first national reports on the developing religious group: “A score of persons … have disappeared. It’s a mystery whether they’ve been taken on a so-called trip to eternity—or simply been taken.”

 In reality, Applewhite and Nettles had arranged for the group to go underground. From that point, “Doe and Tee”,Do as in DO and Ti  as the two now called themselves, led the nearly one-hundred-member crew across the country, sleeping in tents and sleeping bags and begging in the streets. Avoiding the authorities and media enabled the group to focus on Doe and Tee’s doctrine of helping members of the crew achieve a “higher evolutionary level” above human, which they claimed to have already reached.

Applewhite and Nettles used a variety of aliases over the years, notably “Bo and Peep” and “Do and Ti”. The group also had a variety of names—prior to the adoption of the name Heaven’s Gate, it was known as Human Individual Metamorphosis (HIM). The group re-invented and renamed itself several times and had a variety of recruitment methods. Applewhite believed he was directly related to Jesus, meaning he was an “Evolutionary Kingdom Level Above Human”.

Indeed, Applewhite’s writings, part religion and part science fiction, suggest he believed himself to be Jesus’ successor and the “Present Representative” of Christ on Earth. Doe and Tee taught during the religious movement’s early beginnings that Doe’s bodily “vehicle” was inhabited by the same alien spirit which belonged to Jesus; likewise, Tee (Nettles) was presented as God the Father.

The crew used numerous methods of recruitment as they toured the United States in destitution, proclaiming the gospel of higher level metamorphosis, the deceit of humans by false-god spirits, envelopment with sunlight for meditative healing, and the divinity of the “UFO Two”.

In April 1976, the group stopped recruiting and became reclusive, and instituted a rigid set of behavioural guidelines, including banning sexual activity and the use of drugs. Applewhite and Nettles also solidified that they represented the sole temporal and religious authority of the group. Benjamin Zeller described the movement as having transformed “from a loosely organised social group to a centralized religious movement comparable to a roving monastery”

Some sociologists agree that the popular movement of alternative religious experience and individualism found in collective spiritual experiences during that period helped contribute to the growth of the new religious movement. “Sheilaism”, as it became known, was a way for people to merge their diverse religious backgrounds and gather around a shared, generalized faith, which followers of new religious sects like Applewhite’s crew found a very appetizing alternative to traditional dogmas in Judaism, Catholicism and evangelical Christianity. 

A little side note, Sheilaism is a shorthand term for an individual’s system of religious belief which co-opts strands of multiple religions chosen by the individual usually without much theological consideration. So they just mashed random religious beliefs together.  The term derives from a woman named Sheila Larson, who is quoted as following her own “little voice” in a faith she calls “Sheilaism

Many of Applewhite and Nettle’s crew hailed from these very diverse backgrounds; most of them are described by researchers as having been “longtime truth-seekers”, or spiritual hippies who had long since believed in attempting to “find themselves” through spiritual means, combining faiths in a sort of cultural milieu well into the mid-1980s. However, remarkably, many of those same researchers note that not all of Applewhite’s crew were hippies recruited from alternative religious backgrounds—in fact, one such recruit early on was John Craig, a respected Republican and ranch owner who came close to winning a 1970 Colorado House of Representatives race, who joined the group in 1975. As recruit numbers grew in its pre-Internet days, the clan of “UFO followers” all seemed to have in common a need for communal belonging in an alternative path to higher existence without the constraints of institutionalized faith.

Identifying themselves using the business name “Higher Source”, and using their website to preach and recruit followers beginning in the early 1990s. Rumors began spreading throughout the group in the following years that the upcoming Comet Hale–Bopp housed the secret to their ultimate salvation and ascent into the kingdom of heaven.

The death of Nettles to cancer in 1985 challenged the group’s views on ascension, where they originally believed that they would ascend to heaven while alive aboard a UFO, later coming to believe that the body was merely a “container” or “vehicle” for the soul, and that their consciousness would be transferred to new “Next Level bodies” upon death.

Known to the media (though largely ignored through the 1980s and 1990s), Heaven’s Gate was better known in UFO circles, as well as through a series of academic studies by sociologist Robert Balch.

The death of Nettles to cancer in 1985 challenged the group’s views on ascension, where they originally believed that they would ascend to heaven while alive aboard a UFO, later coming to believe that the body was merely a “container” or “vehicle” for the soul, and that their consciousness would be transferred to new “Next Level bodies” upon death.

In January 1994, the LA Weekly ran an article on the group, then known as “The Total Overcomers”. Richard Ford, who would later play a key role in the 1997 group suicide, discovered Heaven’s Gate through this article and eventually joined them, renaming himself Rio DiAngelo.

Coast to Coast AM host Art Bell featured the theory of the “companion object” in the shadow of Hale–Bopp on several programs, as early as November 1996; speculation has been raised as to whether his programs on the subject contributed to Heaven’s Gate’s group suicide months later, while others blame more on Courtney Brown rather than Bell.

Louis Theroux contacted the Heaven’s Gate group while making a program for his BBC2 documentary series, Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends, in early March 1997. In response to his email, Theroux was told that Heaven’s Gate could not take part in the documentary because “at the present time a project like this would be an interference with what we must focus on.”

In October 1996, the group began renting a large home which they called “The Monastery”, a 9,200 square feet (850 m2) mansion located near 18341 Colina Norte (later changed to Paseo Victoria) in Rancho Santa Fe, California. They paid $7,000 per month, in cash. In the same month, the group purchased alien abduction insurance that would cover up to fifty members and would pay out $1 million per person (the policy covered abduction, impregnation, or death by aliens). WTF!! Prior to this, in June 1995 they had purchased land near Manzano, New Mexico and had begun work creating a compound out of rubber tires and concrete, but had left abruptly in April 1996. Who wants to live in a house of tires and cinderblock when you could live in a mansion in San Diego??

EDIT– I was so wrong. The tire and cement houses are called Earthship houses. Some of them are amazing and you can even stay in some that are air bnbs.

On March 19–20, 1997, Marshall Applewhite taped himself in Doe’s Final Exit, speaking of mass suicide and “the only way to evacuate this Earth”. After asserting that a spacecraft was trailing Comet Hale–Bopp and that this event would represent the “closure to Heaven’s Gate”, Applewhite persuaded 38 followers to prepare for ritual suicide so their souls could board the supposed craft. Applewhite believed that after their deaths a UFO would take their souls to another “level of existence above human”, which he described as being both physical and spiritual. Their preparations included each member videotaping a farewell message.

On March 26, 1997, deputies of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department discovered the bodies of the 39 active members of the group, including that of Applewhite, in a house in Rancho Santa Fe. The 39 followers, 21 women and 18 men between the ages of 26 and 72, are believed to have died in three groups over three successive days, with remaining participants cleaning up after each prior group’s deaths. WTF?? Caqn you imagine being in the third and final group? The suicides occurred in groups of fifteen, fifteen, and nine, between approximately March 22 and March 26.

 Among the dead was Thomas Nichols, brother of the actress Nichelle Nichols, who is best known for her role in the original television series of Star Trek. Leader Applewhite was the third to last member to die; two people remained after him and were the only ones who would be found with bags over their heads and not having purple cloths covering their top halves. Before the last of the suicides, similar sets of packages were sent to numerous Heaven’s Gate affiliated (or formerly affiliated) individuals, and at least one media outlet, the BBC department responsible for Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends, for which Heaven’s Gate had earlier declined participation.

Among those in the list of recipients was Rio DiAngelo. The package DiAngelo received on the evening of March 25, as other packages sent had, contained two VHS videotapes, one with Doe’s Final Exit, and the other with the “farewell messages” of group followers. It also contained a letter, stating that among other things, “we have exited our vehicles, just as we entered them.” Upon informing his boss of the contents of the packages, DiAngelo received a ride from him from Los Angeles to the Heaven’s Gate home in Rancho Santa Fe so he could verify the letter. DiAngelo found a back door intentionally left unlocked to allow access, and used a video camera to record what he found. After leaving the house, DiAngelo’s boss, who had waited outside, encouraged him to make calls to authorities alerting them to his discovery.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department received an anonymous tip through the 911 system at 3:15 p.m. on March 26, suggesting they “check on the welfare of the residents”. In the days following the suicides, this caller was revealed to be DiAngelo.

To kill themselves, members took phenobarbital mixed with apple sauce or pudding and chased it down with vodka. Additionally, they tied plastic bags around their heads after eating the mix to induce asphyxiation. All 39 were dressed in identical black shirts and sweatpants, brand new black-and-white Nike Decades athletic shoes, and armband patches reading “Heaven’s Gate Away Team” Each member had on their person a five-dollar bill and three quarters in their pockets. What the hell is your spirit going to do with $5.75? Were the aliens charging a cover fee to get on the UFO?

 According to former members, this was standard for members leaving the home for jobs and “a humorous way to tell us they all had left the planet permanently”; the five-dollar bill was for covering the cost of vagrancy laws and the quarters were for calling home from pay phones. Once a member was dead, a living member would arrange the body by removing the plastic bag from the person’s head, followed by posing the body so that it lay neatly in its own bed, with faces and torsos covered by a square purple cloth for privacy. In an interview with Harry Robinson, the two surviving members said that the identical clothing was used as a uniform for the mass suicide to represent unity, whilst the Nike Decades were chosen because the group “got a good deal on the shoes”. Applewhite was also a fan of Nikes “and therefore everyone was expected to wear and like Nikes” within the group. Heaven’s Gate also had a saying within the group, ‘Just Do it,’ using Nike’s slogan. They pronounced Do as Doe, to reflect Applewhite’s nickname.

 Just before the mass suicide, the group’s website was updated with the message:

“Hale–Bopp brings closure to Heaven’s Gate …our 22 years of classroom here on planet Earth is finally coming to conclusion — ‘graduation’ from the Human Evolutionary Level. We are happily prepared to leave ‘this world’ and go with Tee’s crew.” Since Tee had died back in the 80s.

News of the 39 deaths in Rancho Santa Fe motivated the copycat suicide of a 58-year-old man living near Marysville, California. The man left a note dated March 27, which said, “I’m going on the spaceship with Hale–Bopp to be with those who have gone before me,” and imitated some of the details of the Heaven’s Gate suicides as they had been reported in the media up to that point. The man was found dead by a friend on March 31, and had no known connection with Heaven’s Gate.

At least three former members of Heaven’s Gate ultimately died by suicide themselves in the months after the mass suicide event. On May 6, 1997, Wayne Cooke and Chuck Humphrey attempted suicide in a hotel in a manner similar to that used by the group. Cooke died and Humphrey survived this attempt. Having survived his first suicide attempt, Humphrey ultimately killed himself in Arizona in February 1998. Another former member, James Pirkey Jr., died by suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot wound on May 11. 

Two former members, Marc and Sarah King of Phoenix, Arizona, who operate as the TELAH Foundation, are believed to maintain the group’s website. They also say that there is only 2 more surviving members and now that Ti and Do are dead there is no group. You should really go check it out. Its bonkers. Heavensgate.com


E6- Nurses

Nursing is the most trusted profession. People literally trust them with their life. What happens when nurses choose to kill?


Genene Jones

Genene Ann Jones, was born July 13, 1950 and was immediately given up for adoption.  Her new parents were Dick and Gladys Jones, who adopted three other children as well—two older and one younger than Genene. She felt that she had a hard time getting attention.  She felt left out and unfavored by her parents. She went around calling herself the family’s “black sheep.”

Sometimes she would pretend to be ill in order to get people to notice, and at school she became bossy.  She was short and overweight, which added to her loneliness.  There were acquaintances who called her aggressive and friends who said she had betrayed them.  She was known for lying and manipulating people.

Genene was close to her younger brother, Travis, who loved to be in their father’s shop.  When he was 14, he put together a pipe bomb that blew up in his face, killing him.  Genene was 16 at the time, and during the funeral, she screamed and fainted.  She had lost her closest companion. Some believe this trauma fed her peculiar cruelty.  Others said she was just hysterical and grabbed any opportunity for attention.

While working at several medical clinics in and around San Antonio, Texas, nurse Jones practiced possibly the worst life-and-death games in history, injecting innumerable babies with life-threatening drugs. Jones seemed to thrill in putting the small children in mortal danger and putting herself into the role of hero when the children pulled or by taking extraordinary measures to resuscitate the doomed infant. Unfortunately, many did  make it. Because she was mobile, moving around Texas to work in different clinics, authorities expect she may be responsible for as many as 46 deaths.

She brazenly continued her pattern even while she was under a CDC investigation, and her medical supervisors defended her. When she lost the 1984 trial, hospital officials throughout Texas shredded records of her employment and activities, preventing further trials and embarrassment.

Though periodically investigated and even being dismissed from two separate medical facilities when suspicions about infant deaths centered on her, Jones continued to inject babies with chemicals that caused cardiac arrest and hemorrhaging. She was even directly accused by a fellow nurse before her dismissal from the Bexar County Medical Center, which conducted three separate investigations into the string of deaths but could never implicate Jones directly.

Babies admitted to the intensive care unit had begun dying at an alarming rate; between May and December 1981, the paediatric department of the Bexar County Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, had witnessed the loss of as many as twenty infants through cardiac arrest or runaway bleeding. In the majority of cases death had occurred while the babies were in her care; Miss Jones, though, was widely regarded as an amazing nurse, and totally dedicated to the care of her small charges. She’s the nurse other nurses go to for help, she helps train new nurses. 

The first child she picked up in her job at Bexar County Medical had a fatal intestinal condition, and when he died shortly thereafter, she went berserk.  She brought a stool into the cubicle where the body lay and sat staring at it. 

It soon became clear to associates that Genene liked to feel needed, and she would often spend long hours on the ward during her 3-11 p.m. shift, insisting that her attention was important to a certain patient.  However, she skipped classes on the proper handling of drugs and in her first year made eight separate nursing errors, including while dispensing medication.  She sometimes developed a dependency on sick children, so she would refuse specific orders because she wanted to do what was “best” for the child. 

While there were sufficient grounds for dismissal, including coming in one night drunk, the head nurse Pat Belko liked and protected her, which gave Jones a feeling of invincibility.  She never liked to admit any mistakes, and now she had someone in power to back her up.  She tried to bully new nurses into looking to her for help, and more than one nurse transferred out of the unit to get away from her.

By 1981, Jones demanded to be put in charge of the sickest patients.  That placed her close to those that died most often.  She loved the excitement of an emergency, and even seemed to enjoy the grief she experienced when a child didn’t make it.  She always wanted to take the corpse to the morgue.

It became clear to everyone that children were dying in this unit from problems that shouldn’t have been fatal.  The need for resuscitation suddenly seemed constant—but only when Jones was around.  Those in the most critical condition were all under her care.  One child had a seizure three days in a row, but only on her shift. “They’re going to start thinking I’m the Death Nurse,” Jones quipped one day.

Then a baby named Jose Antonio Flores, six months old, went into cardiac arrest while in Jones’s care.  He was revived, but went into arrest again the next day during her shift and died from bleeding. Tests on the corpse indicated an overdose of a drug called Heparin, an anticoagulant.  No one had ordered it. 

Then Rolando Santos, being treated for pneumonia, was having seizures, cardiac arrest, and extensive unexplained bleeding.  All of his troubles developed or intensified on Jones’s shift.  Finally one doctor stepped forward and told the hospital staff that she was killing children. They needed an investigation.  Yet the nurses protected her.  Since the hospital did not want bad publicity, they accepted whatever the head nurse said.

Another child was sent to the pediatrics unit to recover from open-heart surgery.  At first, he progressed well, but on Jones’s shift, he became lethargic.  Then his condition deteriorated and he soon died.  Jones grabbed a syringe and squirted fluid over the child in the sign of a cross, then repeated it on herself.

A series of internal inquiries were held without any positive recommendation, and eventually a panel comprising experts from hospitals in the USA and Canada was appointed to look into the deaths. The panel routinely interviewed members of the Bexar’s staff and were surprised when one of her own colleagues bluntly accused Genene Jones of the infants’ murder. The panel, as is so often the case, failed to reach any firm conclusion beyond the suggestion that the hospital dispense with the services of both Jones and the nurse who had accused her of killing babies. 

Because the hospital feared being sued, in 1982, it simply fired all of its LVNs, including Jones, and staffed the pediatric ICU exclusively with registered nurses. No further investigation was pursued by the hospital. They gave Dr Holland a glowing endorsement and said Jones would be a great addition to her practice. That way they got rid of her and she’s now someone elses problem.

Jones left and took a position at a pediatrician’s clinic in Kerrville, Texas, some 60 miles northwest of San Antonio. She worked at a brand new pediatric clinic. In her first month as pediatrician, Dr Kathy Holland had 7 patients stop breathing, have seizures, and had to be hospitalized. 

Chelsea McClellan who was fourteen months old was brought into the clinic for a routine immunisation against Mumps and Measles. Genene Jones was responsible for giving the child the injection and immediately after the child suffered a seizure. The baby was rushed to San Antonio for emergency treatment but on the way suffered cardiac arrest and died. It seemed that many of the children that were treated by Genene had various attacks and seizures but none were fatal.

At the funeral, Mrs McClellan, Cgelsea’s mother, screamed and fainted, and her relatives sent her to get psychiatric help.  Thanks to that, she had spent a considerable amount of time in a haze, but the sharp grief had not yet dulled.

A week after the funeral, she went to the Garden of Memories Cemetery to lay flowers on her daughter’s grave. 

As she approached the grave, she saw the nurse from the clinic, Genene Jones.  Oddly, she was kneeling at the foot of Chelsea’s grave, sobbing and wailing the child’s name over and over.  She rocked back and forth, apparently in deep anguish, as if Chelsea had been her own daughter.

“What are you doing here?” McClellan asked. She thought did this nurse feel guilty about her role in Chelsea’s death?  Perhaps she had neglected to do something that had made the crucial difference?

Confronted, Jones returned a blank stare, as if in a trance, and walked away without a word.  When she was gone, McClellan noticed something else.  While Jones had left a small token of flowers, she had taken a bow from Chelsea’s grave. 

The doctor in the office discovered two puncture marks in a bottle of succinylcholine in the drug storage, where only she and Jones had access. Contents of the apparently full bottle were later found to be heavily diluted with water, where it was estimated that only 20% of the vial’s contents were actually the drug. Succinylcholine is a powerful short-acting paralytic that causes temporary paralysis of all skeletal muscles, as well as those that control breathing; the drug is used as a part of general anesthetic. A patient cannot breathe while under the influence of this drug. In small children, cardiac arrest is the ultimate result of deoxygenation due to lack of respiration. The body of Chelsea McClellan was exhumed and her tissues tested; her death appeared to have been caused by an injection of the muscle relaxant.

Jones claimed she was trying to stimulate the creation of a pediatric intensive care unit in Kerrville. Nurses from Bexar County also recalled Genene’s plan to promote a pediatric intensive care unit in San Antonio,  by raising the number of seriously-ill children. “They’re out there,” she once told a colleague. “All you have to do is find them.” 

In 1985, Jones was sentenced to 99 years in prison for killing 15-month-old Chelsea McClellan. Later that year, she was sentenced to a concurrent term of 60 years in prison for nearly killing Rolando Santos with heparin.

As of May 2016, Jones was held at the Lane Murray Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. She had been scheduled for mandatory release in 2018 due to a Texas law meant to prevent prison overcrowding.  To avoid this, Jones was indicted on May 25, 2017, for the murder of 11-month-old Joshua Sawyer.  The Bexar County District Attorney, stated that additional charges could be filed in the deaths of other children. Due to the mandatory early-release law covering Jones’ original convictions, she would otherwise have been released upon completion of a third of the original sentence. The new charges were filed to avoid her release. 

In April 2018, a judge in San Antonio denied a request to dismiss five new murder indictments against Jones. On 16 January 2020, Jones pleaded guilty to the murder of 11-month-old Joshua Sawyer on 12 December 1981 as part of a plea deal in which four other charges were dropped. She was sentenced to life in prison. She will not be eligible for parole until she is roughly 87 years old.

You can watch episodes of her on Season five Episode ten of Forensic Files titled “Nursery Crimes” or Season two, Episode four of  Deadly Women titled “Dark Secrets”


E5- Haunted Places w/ guest Cindy Seer

We have our first guest! Cindy tells us about growing up in her grandparent’s super haunted house, Sara tells us about her graveyard experience, and Allison covers the Amityville haunting.