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Today marks 90 years since the birth of one of the most evil men in American history, Jim Jones – a cult leader who forced over 900 followers, many of them children, to drink cyanide-laced fruit punch in the depths of the world's densest jungle.
The devastating act of mass murder was, up until the 9/11 attacks, the largest single incident of intentional civilian death in American history.
It remains the subject of debate to this day and its legacy lives on in the ironic phrase "drink the Kool-Aid" in reference to the deadly punch that followers were forced to drink on November 18, 1978.
Not long after they took the poison they collapsed en masse at their compound deep in the Guyanese jungle. Their bodies piled up around vats of poison-laced cordial, plastic cups and syringe casings, creating a horrific scene for the soldiers who discovered them.
Who was Jim Jones?
The self-styled "reverend" saw himself as the antidote to many of the problems that plagued America in his lifetime – promising his followers a life of love and racial equality.
Born to a poor family in Indiana in 1931, he was described as an intelligent and strange child who had a fascination with Joseph Stalin, Karl Marx, Mao Zedong, Mahatma Gandhi, and Adolf Hitler from a young age.
He also became obsessed with religion, and childhood acquaintances recall him being obsessed with death.
In documentaries over the years they have told reporters that Jones would frequently hold funerals for small animals on his parents' property and that he had stabbed a cat to death.
At 20 years of age, he began attending gatherings of the Communist Party USA in Indianapolis, and soon after became frustrated with the persecution of open and accused communists in the US – during the infamous McCarthy hearings era.
He also became fascinated by the church, with his interest being piqued by a faith-healing service he saw. He saw the money that could be made and the power he could hold, and started making plans.
The People's Temple
Bringing his love of communism and the church together he also preached racial equality, promising black Americans a better life when lynchings and cross burnings were happening.
Jones started The People's Temple which he moved to a commune in Redwood Valley, California, then to San Francisco, drawing in those who had become disaffected with the hippy movement.
By 1965, when Jones was in his mid-30s, he drifted away from traditional Christian teachings, describing himself as a messiah and claiming he was the reincarnation of figures like Christ and Buddha.
Investigative journalist Jeff Guin said members of the People's Temple were some of the "most intelligent individuals anyone would meet" – but that they became indoctrinated by Jones.
"Jim Jones was able to attract and maintain loyalty. First thing he would do is convince his followers that he was the only one who could solve problems and create a better life," he said.
"Secondly, he'd indoctrinate his followers, so anyone not part of the group is the enemy. It was us [People's Temple members] against them. The third thing he would do is drown out the voice of outsiders. His purpose was to alienate the followers from outsiders, family and the media."
Conman and a controller
Wanting to expand his movement, Jones used his wild charisma to convince staff to pose as sick or disabled and be "healed" by him.
As followers told ABC-TV, "I thought Jim Jones could actually walk on water. I seriously thought he had the power of God. I saw his healings and thought they were real."
The documentary, Truth and Lies: Jonestown, Paradise Lost describes how Jones was also a sexual predator who turned his followers into spies to gather information to blackmail his devotees. They would end up giving him their money and sometimes even their houses, bank accounts and power of attorney.
People's Temple members were even asked to sign false testimonials that they had molested their children, which the church kept for potential blackmail.
The documentary also states that he used mind control by depriving his followers of sleep, and subjecting them to sexual and physical abuse and isolation.
When former members began to speak out to the media about his abuse and his cult's reputation was stained, Jones decided he'd had enough of the US and fled to South America.
Setting up Jonestown
Jones had started building Jonestown several years before a damning article about his cult that finally pushed him over the edge was published. He also warned the US was in danger of imminent nuclear holocaust, so his followers would only be safe if they followed him.
The community was built by followers in the deep wilderness of Guyana, whose socialist regime was politically sympathetic to Jones' communist beliefs.
It was promoted as a means to create both a "socialist paradise" and a "sanctuary" from the media scrutiny in San Francisco.
However, when hundreds of followers joined him there, their passports were taken and they were told they couldn't leave.
They were forced to carve out a working agricultural commune, known as Jonestown, of the dense jungle amid the oppressive humidity.
Life in the commune
As the members worked to stay alive on the badly-resourced commune, they were blasted with propaganda and rambling monologues from Jones.
When they finished their drudgery for the day they attended classes where they would be subject to further brainwashing.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jones' followers began to lose faith. They became malnourished and exhausted, and many of them saw that the man they had followed deep into the jungle was nothing but a drug-addled psychopath and a fraud.
Their family members back home in the US also became concerned, and that's when things started to head south for the People's Temple.
The nightmarish end
Jones began to become increasingly paranoid about outsiders and stacked Jonestown with guns and machetes in preparation for an attack.
He began drills called "white nights", in which followers would practise committing mass suicide.
By the end of 1978, Jones had ordered in large amounts of potassium cyanide, and the tranquillising drugs Valium and Phenergan.
That same year, Californian congressman Leo Ryan planned a visit to Jonestown with a groups of "concerned relatives" of People's Temple members allegedly being held against their will.
He gathered some of them together and flew to Guyana with media crews and cameras, for a fact-finding mission.
Only Ryan and three others were initially accepted into Jonestown, while the rest of Ryan's group was allowed in after sunset.
Before the delegation arrived Jones had run rehearsals on how to convince them that everyone was happy and in good spirits.
However, it became clear to Ryan that something was wrong. Two Temple members passed him a note saying: "Please help us get out of Jonestown".
In total, 15 members said they wanted to leave and Ryan began making plans to take them home, but a sudden violent rainstorm started and emotions began to run high.
Ryan's delegation, accompanied by the Jonestown inhabitants who had asked to leave the commune, were headed out on a large dump truck for the nearby Port Kaituma airstrip where two small planes waited.
However, just as they set off, a crazed member of the cult tried to stab Ryan. He was unhurt and managed to jump on board the dump truck to escape.
They made it to the airstrip, but as they were waited to board, a tractor arrived loaded with nine armed men who opened fire, shooting Ryan, and gunning down others.
When rescuers later reached the airstrip they would find Ryan, "finished off" with 20 gunshot wounds.
Back at Jonestown, Jones announced it was time to make his "white night" plans a reality.
He told his followers Ryan had been murdered, meaning "revolutionary suicide" was the only possible outcome for the cult.
The 'death tape'
The horrific end of Jonestown was captured on a chilling 44-minute cassette tape, known as the "death tape".
On it you can hear Jones telling followers why they must take their lives.
"I've tried my best to give you a good life," he said.
"In spite of all that I've tried, a handful of our people, with their lies, have made our life impossible. There's no way to detach ourself from what's happened today.
"Not only are we in a compound situation; not only are there those who have left and, committed the betrayal of the century; some have stolen children from others and they are in pursuit right now to kill them, because they stole their children. And we are sitting here waiting on a powder keg."
Other members can be heard trying to convince him of another way, perhaps an airlift to the Soviet Union.
However, Jones dismisses this, and after he tells them Ryan is dead there is no dissent.
The children – more than 300 – were poisoned first, and can be heard crying and wailing on the tape.
Singing can be heard as their cries fade and Jones tells the adults to take the poison.
"Without me, life has no meaning. Just relax and you will have no problem," he said.
"People must be drinking it … where's the vat, the vat with the green tea in it please. If you don't follow my advice you will be sorry."
His final words on the tape are: "Take our life from us. We laid it down, we got tired. We didn't commit suicide, we committed an act of revolutionary suicide protesting the conditions of an inhumane world."
The FBI believes he then shot himself in the head instead of taking the poison.
When Guyanese troops reached Jonestown the following morning, they discovered a horror scene.
They saw the compound littered with bodies piled up around vats of poison-laced cordial, plastic cups and syringe casings.
A small number of survivors who had hidden during the poisoning, emerged.
One elderly woman, who slept through the entire ordeal, woke to discover everyone dead.
Where to get help:
• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP) (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 or TEXT 4202
• NATIONAL ANXIETY 24 HR HELPLINE: 0800 269 4389