In 1978, I went to Guyana on a fact-finding mission. Politically, there was nothing to gainand everything to loseby taking on Jones, and there was no telling what hed do if confronted and challenged. With Joness wild gaze on us, I tape-recorded affidavits of their wishes to return to the United States. https://www.nytimes.com/1981/09/17/us/cult-member-cries-over-plea-to-jury.html. I knew him well enough to understand what would happen next. When we touched down in Georgetown, a U.S. Air Force medevac plane was waiting.  While recounting his prison experiences he said: "I saw inmates stabbed and friends die" and "I saw young men raped and pimped out as prostitutes for other inmates. Layton said the temple started out as a civil rights movement and he compared Jones to Martin Luther King Jr., but 'obviously things turned out differently,' he said. But at the time, none of that occurred to me; I was thrilled to be working for a candidate I believed inone who always treated me with respect. Behind his dim glasses, Jones preached love and equality while manipulating his followerstaking their property and having them sign over their paychecks and Social Security. Ryan wanted to investigate. Peoples Temple leader Jim Jones (left) shakes hands with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone (right) after being sworn in to serve on the San Francisco Housing Authority, Nov. 24, 1977.  The book is published in Italy, France, Australia, Germany, Thailand and United Kingdom.  In 2009, the Brevard County Sheriff's Office spent $4500 on 500 DVDs from the Reality Check program. In a cabin with about six women from the Temple, I took a top bunk, sweating as a downpour opened up outside. We heard that the church had weapons, and that Jones was paranoid and possibly on drugs. But he ordered them separated before they had consummated the marriage, and Mr. Blakey eventually left California to join the party establishing the cult's Guyana settlement. Politics: Liberal. The night before, our delegation watched Jones followers perform a show at their compound. They reported the car's license plate, which linked the car to Lawton. Lawton gained notoriety for committing a string of jewelry store robberies along the Atlantic Seaboard prior to his arrest in 1996. " He was critical of Brevard County stopping letters to inmates in 2013. The robbers drew what police at the time believed were firearms, and restrained the store owner.  He was sentenced for racketeering and robbery and spent 11 years in prison before being released in 2007. Her marriage was ruptured by Mr. Jopes even before it could be consummated. Among them were George Moscone, who the Peoples Temple played a significant role in electing mayor in 1975, and Harvey Milk, the pioneering openly gay city supervisor, who went so far as to write a letter to President Jimmy Carter extolling Joness work and rebutting charges that he was abusive. As I shook his hand, I looked at his sideburns. While asserting that Mr. Jones was ''primarily responsible'' for the killings at the airstrip, Federal District Judge Robert F. Peckham said Mr. Layton would be eligible for parole after five years. Nearly 30 years later, her mother long dead in a rotting jungle outpost in Guyana, her brother doing life in a federal prison and her father so broken that he weeps at the mention of anything connected with Jones-, town, Deborah Layton has, as she put it the other day, "decided it was time to come out of the cobwebbed attic.". Perhaps death is better than this.". Deep inside me, I still have the demons of shame and guilt.". But Layton, saying he wishes he could ease the pain. "Every week we're ordered to drink some liquid," she writes, culling her memories of the "old tapes (of Jonestown recollections that) are running in my head. Mr. Jones, they said, could cure cancer. | AP. In 1996, the family and friends of Larry launched a campaign for a presidential commutation. Last May, while serving Mr. Jones as a trusted aide, she escaped from Jonestown and tried in vain to alert the world that he was preparing for a mass suicide in order to establish a place for himself in history. March 5, 1999. I'm so desperately tired. Anyone can read what you share. At the end of the evening, Rep. Ryan walked onstage and thanked the group. This time, it was not a drill. After Jones moved to Jonestown, and with Layton still in California, Layton's sister, a power in the hierarchy of the temple, defected and began to tell of atrocities at the jungle agricultural project. The letters were presented during the hearing which resulted in a recommendation for Larrys release. Sam was far from the only person concerned about Jones malicious influence over a loved one. The shootings took place on one of the airplanes which were to take the party of Congressman Leo Ryan to Georgetown after his visit to Jonestown. I wanted to leave my daughter a legacy that wasn't that simple.". Leo Ryan assured me that there was nothing to worry about. Infants cannot commit suicide. In the mid and late 1960's, when Berkeley became the scene of frequently tumultuous antiwar demonstrations and other protests, Larry and Deborah Layton joined many of the demonstrations and began experimenting with drugs. Elin Cederroos: Ocean Resort Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. , However, the superintendent of student services at Brevard Public Schools declined to use the program, and questioned its effectiveness, claiming that "[w]hile the program is well-organized and well-intentioned, it does not follow the scientific evidence-based research guidelines. At the compound, Don wandered off to smoke a cigarette. ", While in prison in 2003, Lawton was sent to solitary confinement for 27 days as punishment. It was utter pandemonium. Mr. Jones also apparently widened the rift between Larry Layton and his father. January 15, 2007. While trying to keep the peace, he had been attacked with a knife. ", Crimes for which children went to the well included "stealing food from the kitchen, expressing homesickness, failing a socialism exam, or even natural childish rebelliousness.". From her childhood, friends said, Mrs. Layton had carried a deep fear of cancer. He said that some of the recipients could be innocent. Years later, after Lisa Layton Joined the People's Temple, she would tell other members of the cult that her husband had been antiSemitic and was ashamed of her being a Jew.  In 2012, Lawton self-published Gangster Redemption, an autobiography co-written with Peter Golenbock. Larry Layton, Quaker and pacifist, entered the Peoples Temple in 1968 to join the march to social justice as charted by the temple's mesmerizing leader, the Rev. The defense attorney urged jurors to consider conditions at Jonestown and their impact on Mr. Layton. " Another time he said: "I had my arms pinned down, and I was beaten and peed on by the guards. Layton was attracted to the Utopian principles of the temple and its multi-racial flock, living and working together under the guidance of Jones, a combination professed faith-healer and leftist political prophet. Please help us get out of Jonestown. Soon after, Don was approached by another member, who claimed that many Temple members desperately wanted to leave but were too terrified to come forward. Inquiry by Congressman. Under the Federal parole system, a person sentenced to life in prison is not normally considered for parole until 10 years have been served. Repeatedly, the defectors mentioned forced participation in mass-suicide rehearsals known as the White Night trials.. . , In 2019, he made a video with Vanity Fair where he analyzed fictional robberies from films such as The Italian Job and Heat. Mini Biography. Layton's mother, Lisa, had died of cancer 10 days before the mass suicide. "The reason I did well," Layton says now, "is that I'm a little soldier and I follow orders so well.". Mr. Layton was also sentenced to three concurrent terms of 15 years each in related charges of conspiring to kill Mr. Ryan and in the attempted murder of a United States diplomat in the same incident. Be the first to contribute! He has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Christian Broadcasting Network, and Fox News. Their accounts led to an expos in New West Magazine planned for publication in summer 1977. Is the Stanley Quencher tumbler worth its TikTok hype? The hundreds of elderly were told that if they attempted escape, they would be left to die prolonged deaths alone in the depths of the jungle. , Lawton executed his first robbery when he was 28, an inside job to collect insurance money. I heard screams and the rapid pounding of gunfire. " Lawton and the police chief later appeared before United States Congress in recognition of the program. In August 1979, he joined the Coast Guard and took part in the Mariel boatlift. In a book written by his brother, Thomas, after Ryan's death, Larry is quoted as saying he believed in the goals of the community, even though life was not always Utopian. Also there was a strong feeling of community -- people of all races who really cared about each other.'. She said that she knew that to do so would endanger her mother and brother because Mr. Jones kept dissident members in line by holding relatives hostage. Deborah Layton is now 45, lives in an elegant house in Piedmont and takes her 12-year-old daughter to play in soccer games. '', See the article in its original context from. We listened as she offered a detailed and disturbing account of her experience. After a few weeks, Layton grew "accustomed to the unusual smells in the food and drink. The book describes the events that occurred in Jonestown, Guyana, where over 900 people lost their lives as the result of mass forced suicide, which constituted the largest loss of American civilian life (other than due to natural disasters or during the course of violence with Native Americans) in United States history until the events of By that time, it was obvious that some of his disciples intended to leave. Somehow, through the encroaching darkness of my final thoughts, I saw my 87-year-old Grandma Emma. All of those children. Lawrence Robert Lawton (born October 3, 1961) is an American ex-convict, author, paralegal, motivational speaker, and YouTuber. Philip Wogaman, President and Mrs. Clintons pastor in Washington, D.C. made additional pleas for commutation of Larrys sentence. It made no sense that he would be trying to leave Jonestown. He'd work you so hard you didn't have time to complain, and he'd blackmail you; he destroyed marriages and humiliated you.. It felt like a Mack truck had just sped over me. The tumult of the late 60s and early 70s had left masses of people searching for a greater sense of security and purpose. I did not recover my old self; bullets render that impossible. Mr. Layton was also convicted of conspiracy in the attempted murder of Richard C. Dwyer, the deputy chief of the United States mission to Guyana, who was among those wounded at the airstrip. He was born June 30, 1940 in Long Branch NJ to William and Edna (Keller) Layton. When cameras were rolling, he spoke of how he loved them and how there would always be a place for thembut those declarations would be followed by thinly veiled mutters about treason and liars. Jackie Speier manages a smile as she is wheeled on a stretcher at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, Nov. 20, 1978. And, I thought of them like Mormons. Larry Layton, who posed as a defector, was captured after badly wounding two people inside a plane trying to take off. It was impossible to cope with the pain. A few Temple members stood in front of a rusty dump truck waiting to shuttle us to the compound. By Katherine Bishop, Special To the New York Times. I have no idea how much time passed until I turned my head and opened my eyes. In Ukiah, Layton's free will was already beginning to slip away, according to his lawyers. His appearance was part of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program. Jim could really get to people, Deborah recalled in an interview. In May 1978, she was sent by Jones to Georgetown to chaperone some Temple children on a cultural exchange. Closing the Book on Case. '', He said that Mr. Layton ''did not kill anybody'' at the airstrip, nor did he ''aid and abet or conspire to kill Leo Ryan.''  Lawton was arrested by the FBI on December 2, 1996, in Florida and charged with the Fairless Hills armed robbery. "I was ready to be overwhelmed by emotion," she says, "but when we got into the area, it just wasn't there. Larry Layton, who had boarded the small Cessna aircraft began open firing on its occupants which wounded several of them before he was disarmed by one of the people inside. Lawrence Robert Lawton (born October 3, 1961) is an American ex-convict, author, paralegal, motivational speaker, and YouTuber. Many hours before the plane came, somehow, word filtered in that after Jones had released his death squad to the airstrip, he had led more than 900 of his flock into his White Night of death. And then I realized that confirming one tiny detail could mean that the worst of the testimonies were true.  Lawton has a YouTube channel, and he has made videos analyzing heists in movies and video games such as Grand Theft Auto V; he also plays Prison Architect.. Meanwhile, Dr. Layton said, A difficult new field of science in molecular biology was opening, and he began to spend more and more time studying it. He preached a social gospel, attracting devotees while promoting a community that did not discriminate or take into account race, background, or previous circumstances. Deborah said that before her escape she had obtained a bottle of wine and taken it to the commune against Mr. Jones's rules. Sam was certain Jones had something to do with his sons death. Five bullets hit me from point-blank range, piercing my right arm, leg, and back. Lawton gained notoriety for committing a string of jewelry store robberies along the Atlantic Seaboard prior to his arrest in 1996. Later on, I decided I had to show them. Just click the "Edit page" button at the bottom of the page or learn more in the Biography submission guide. After a year or so Dr. Layton and his wife heard from Carolyn's father that the couple had been divorced. A year later, I applied to college, and he wrote me a letter of recommendation. It was an implausible ending for the fiery preacher, who had curried favor among the fashionable elite of the Democratic Party. Mr. Layton's first trial ended in a mistrial on Sept. 26, 1981, when the jury was unable to reach a verdict on any of the counts. To the volatile flight home. I was feet away from Jones, close enough to hear him trying to convince people to change their minds. | AP. Like all of the tracks in the United States, it closed during the World War II years (1941-1945) and re-opened in 1946. I was one of Larry's lead lawyers in his first U.S. trial in 1981, which resulted in an 11 to 1 vote for acquittal on faulty charges of conspiracy to kill the congressman. As a subscriber, you have 10 gift articles to give each month. The docket for Laytons trial through its various appeals through 1990 is here. I spoke with a woman named Edith Parks, the matriarch of three generations of Temple members who wanted out. SAN FRANCISCO Larry Layton was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison for his role in conspiring to murder Rep. Leo Ryan in Guyana in 1978. Jones became active in local politics, giving money, running food programs and busing Temple members to attend rallies and get out the vote for his favored candidates. After that trip, I remember telling myself that never again would I witness such violence at such close range. Mrs. Layton moved out of their home on Labor Day 1979. See also [ edit] Jim Jones Layton grew up in an affluent Berkeley family. The cover of a Jonestown promotional booklet from 1978. While he was never charged with shooting Mr. Ryan, the Government contended that Mr. Layton conspired with Mr. Jones and other cult members to kill the Congressman and others in his group to prevent them from returning to the United States with negative reports about Jonestown. The Laytons were a family that seemed to have everything: intelligence, plenty of money, education, a proud family tradition of Quaker nonviolence.  Lawton later said that he used a BB gun during the robbery. By the time I returned, more than 900 people died. After that, she never stopped going back, Dr. Layton said. They visited her brother in Ukiah, listened to Mr. Jones's teachingswhich in many ways paralleled those of the Quakers and before long even Mr. Blakey's mother had flown from England to join the People's Temple for a short while.  Lawton does not hold a degree in child psychology or criminology. The suit was later dismissed. She had an extremely anxious demeanor, and we moved quickly as we went to her cabin to pack. I was 28, lying on a dusty airplane runway in the Guyanese jungle, and dying. My ribs were broken. There were piles of used syringes at the scene. We split up, as Jones had arranged. From eyewitness and survivor accounts, the program recreates the last week before the mass murder-suicide on November 18, 1978. Last year, Mrs. Layton became ill, and the diagnosis was what she feared most cancer. In the two years since, Jones and most of his followers had left the Bay Area and moved to Jones commune deep in the jungle of Guyana. I just needed to hang on. Deborah nursed her mother and tried to conceal that a physician had told her the cancer was fatal. Jim Jones. They called it Jonestown. Twelve hours had passed as I lay, teetering on deaths precipice when a light turned on inside me: The simple fact that I knew I was dying was proof that I was, indeed, still alive. He spent 12 years in prison, and once released, began a career as a motivational speaker, life coach, and author. This is a digitized version of an article from The Timess print archive, before the start of online publication in 1996. Hours after the incident, the Rev. Layton was accused of conspiracy to murder in the November,1978, violence that triggered the mass deaths -- the airstrip attack on Rep. Leo Ryan and his party in which the congressman and four others were killed.  In 2013, Lawton was made an honorary police officer by the Lake St. Louis, Missouri Police Department due to his work after prison. 'Being in Peoples Temple wasn't always pleasant, but one had the feeling he was really doing something to advance society. Jim Jones led 912 followers in a ritual of murders and suicides. History. But I refused to spend the rest of my life as a victim of Guyanathere were too many of them. A former high school teacher, he was swept into politics by the idealism of the Kennedy era and elected mayor of South San Francisco before running for state Assembly. ''Why not pin this on Larry Layton, then close the book and not look at the hard questions of why Leo Ryan and all those Americans died?'' , Lawton has made many media appearances. The other, Carolyn, became one of Mr. Jones's mistresses and also his principal fnancial adviser; it is not known whether she is alive. 2023 Alternative Considerations of Jonestown & Peoples Temple, Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple is a, The Campaign to Release Larry Layton from Federal Prison, to petition then-President Clinton to commute Larrys sentence. Your Privacy Choices (Opt Out of Sale/Targeted Ads). Traumatizing family rifts erupted on the spot, with mothers and fathers engaged in literal tug-of-wars over their children. Larry Layton had gotten onto the truck with us, which struck me as a glaring red flaghe was an entrenched member of the hierarchy, one of the true believers. Mr. Tamburello accused prosecutors of going too far in describing the ambush on the Ryan party, which went to Guyana to investigate assertions that some members of the cult were being mistreated and were being held in Guyana against their wills. Three witnesses appeared on Larrys behalf before a parole hearing at the federal prison at Lompoc, California, including attorney Frank Bell and Loren Buddress, the former Chief Probation Office for the Northern District of California. Individually, their insistence would have been hard to question. A second jury convicted Larry, although four jurors took what the trial judge called an unprecedented step of asking for leniency in Larrys sentencing. The daughter of Hugo and Anita Philips, Lisa Philips Layton was born in Germany in 1915 into a family that had engaged in banking for at least 200 years. In the weeks leading up to the White House decision on the petition, a number of former congressmen and religious leaders including Rev. It wasnt unusual for Temple members to be awakened at dawn over the loudspeaker and summoned to the pavilion for one of his increasingly unhinged sermons. Debbie said the couple had gone to court to try to compel the Guyanese government to intervene; Rev. They were issued four T-shirts, four pairs of socks, a toothbrush and toothpaste, four pairs of underwear and a bar of soap. The bodies of Jones and 912 cult followers lay sprawled under the tropical trees of the commune, victims of an incredible murder-suicide rite. The first trial ended in a hung jury. Left-right: Jim Schollaert, Jackie Speier and Congressman Leo Ryan. ', "O.J. Though driven by the kind of underlying insecurity that so often fuels tyrants, Jones appeared to offer hope, redemption, and an idealistic new life.  In 1983, having earned his GED, he left the Coast Guard and began engaging in criminal activity, mostly loan sharking and bookmaking. "I felt we were doing something that had meaning. They recovered and with the help of friends managed to reach Italy, later coming to the United States. She died of cancer in Guyana three weeks before the death ritual. Congressman Ryan and I were among the first shift of the delegation to climb in for the excruciatingly slow six-mile drive to the commune. (CHRONICLE PHOTO BY SUSANNA FROHMAN), Restaurant chain slated to close site at Bay Area mall, One of the largest movie theaters in SF to close permanently, Grapevine closed indefinitely due to heavy snow and ice, Plan to bring bullet train from LA to Vegas is underway, 'Zero visibility' conditions: All roads to Tahoe are closed, What it looks like inside Coit Towers former apartment, Graupel falls on Disneyland, shocks guests, Avalanche slams into Tahoe apartment building amid blizzard, Hundreds of thousands of workers have abandoned downtown SF, Tahoe's snowfall totals are on track to break records, Report: Matthew McConaughey has a massive Salesforce paycheck, Popular yet divisive fast food chain coming to this Bay Area town. Don put it in his pocket and took a few more steps before carefully unfolding it. The 35-year-old defendant is charged with conspiring to murder Representative Leo J. Ryan, the California Democrat who died Nov. 18, 1978, with three journalists and a temple defector in an ambush at an airstrip near Jonestown. The chaos persisted until, abruptly, a silence fell. Debbie stood in line to drink the red liquid that she was told would kill her in a matter of minutes. As I was lying seven miles away waiting for medical help, Sam Houstons granddaughters, Patricia and Judy, 14 and 15, were murdered, along with their mother, dozens of other would-be defectors and the rest of the Peoples Temple. Behind the wheel of an airplane, I waited for the shooting to stop and said my Act of Contrition, praying for forgiveness and waiting for the lights to go out. Peoples Temple follower Larry Layton, center, stands with police following his arrest in the shooting of two people, including California Congressman Leo Ryan, on a remote Guyana airstrip, Nov. 18, 1978.  In grades one through six, Lawton served as an altar boy at St. Francis de Chantal in The Bronx, where he was sexually abused by a Catholic priest. Original release. ''The story of Jonestown is really the story of a world gone mad. I couldnt immediately identify the deafening sound that filled the air. One of the defectors wed interviewed claimed that Jones dyed them black. At Port Kaituma, while I ushered the defectors onto a plane, a large red tractor-trailer rumbled onto the airstrip. Her involvement in the cult, he said, was useful activity, taking care of poor people; she said so much that she looked down at wealth and had guilt feelings, and Jim Jones helped her get rid of them. Jim Jones, with his omnipresent dark glasses and his sweeping red robe, was the anchor of her newfound life and, like many Temple members, she was mesmerized by him. Layton and her mother arrived in Jonestown in December 1977. By the following year, Jones was making a reputation for himself in. In some way, I think he was a substitute husband and father figure who filled all the needs that I failed to give.. Layton complied, and Jones took Carolyn as his mistress. I never played; I never learned how. In 2009 the Rockledge Florida police used the DVDs as part of a community policing project with the money to buy the DVDs procured through asset forfeiture.  The robbers had dropped off jewelry for repairs, and later returned to rob the store. | AP.  The Lake St. Louis police chief praised Larry's message about the consequences of going to prison and said it is not a scared straight program, noting that Lawton said "fear doesn't have a lasting impact. Their daughter, after working briefly as a physical therapist in New York, went for graduate study as a therapist to Pennsylvania State University, where her uncle, Dr. Franck, was teaching. Five bullets had ripped through me, devastating the right side of my body. I grew up with the Bible and the Puritan work ethic, he recalled in an interview. Twenty years ago this month, Jones and 912 of his followers committed mass suicide at the jungle compound. ", "Every week we're promised death, a relief from this miserable life. The hospital was not far from the People's Temple community Mr. Jones had established in Redwood Valley. Mr. Blakey survived the killings and suicides at Jonestown; he was on a boat owned by the commune at the time of the deaths. Sure enough, I could tell he had. But this particular morning, Jones told his followers that they had to kill themselves to keep from being tortured by mercenaries who were preparing an ambush. He had on a big yellow poncho, and his eyes were set in a sullen glare. Among them were Sams teenaged granddaughters. Once, Debbie continued, Jones woke up the camp in the early hours of the morning. Jim Jones, and 912 of his followers died by poison and gunfire in mass killings and suicides. 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