Cremated Jonestown remains have been found at a Delaware funeral home. The remains have been taken by the Division of Forensic Science, and they are working on confirming identifications and contacting the relatives of the deceased.
According to the Associated Press via ABC News, the discovery was made at what used to be the Minus Funeral Home in Dover, Delaware. The Jonestown remains are from the infamous 1978 incident where cult leader Jim Jones coordinated a mass suicide and murder at his Peoples Temple commune. Though there were some who resisted and survived, a total of 911 bodies were found and taken to the Dover Air Force Base after the tragedy played out.
The former funeral home is said to now be dilapidated and padlocked, and it seems it has not been in use for some time now. Last week there was a request made to the Division of Forensic Science to check the property, as 38 containers with human remains had been found there. The Jonestown remains were part of what was uncovered. Authorities searched the property as they believed there may be other created remains there as well, but it seems nothing else was found.
Jim Jones and the Jonestown cult have been a fascinating topic for people for decades now. Though Jones promised an idyllic sanctuary, it became something far more devastating. When U.S. Rep. Leo Ryan went to Guyana with several journalists and a group defector to investigate reports of problems, they were ambushed and gunned down. Shortly after that is when Jim Jones initiated the mass suicide where he ordered the Jonestown members to drink grape punch laced with cyanide. Many who resisted were reportedly forced to drink the punch, injected with poison or shot.
USA Today shares that documentation at the former funeral home, a property which is now owned by a bank, led authorities to determine that nine of the sets of remains were from Jonestown. At this point it is not known why the Jonestown remains had not been claimed by family members when they were initially sent to Delaware.
While Jim Jones is not the only cult leader to have instigated a shocking cult suicide within his group, as the Heaven’s Gate group comes to mind as well, Jonestown certainly is the most remembered. Even decades after it happened, documentaries and photos related to the Guyana incident both fascinate and stun people. The discovery of these Jonestown remains will certainly stir up some stories and memories for many, but people hope that the families of these deceased cult members can now lay their family members to rest.
[Image via Sarah Grainger]