CNN: Jim Jones had long planned killings

Nov. 12, 2008 at 2:18 PM

ATLANTA, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Cult leader Jim Jones had been stockpiling deadly cyanide poison for years before he led his followers into a 1978 mass murder-suicide in Guyana, CNN says.

In a documentary on the Guyana massacre, "Escape from Jonestown," the broadcaster, based in Atlanta, said its investigation found that Jones had been buying cyanide beginning in 1976, two years before he ordered more than 900 of his followers to drink Kool-aid laced with the poison on Nov. 18, 1978.

That would indicate Jones had been planning the mass deaths for some time, the broadcaster said.

Jones, a northern California faith healer who moved his congregation to South America after allegations of church beatings and financial abuses, shot himself to death after ordering the executions of a visiting U.S. congressman, Rep. Leo Ryan, and four others at an airstrip as they were attempting to leave the compound.

CNN said 303 of the 900 Americans who died in the camp that day were children, many of whom were killed by Jones loyalists who used syringes to squirt cyanide down their throats.

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