GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Nov. 21, 1978 (UPI) - Authorities said today they have recovered more than 400 bodies and $1 million in gold and cash from the jungle commune where American religious fanatics poisoned their children and pets and then swallowed a purple cyanide mixture from an altar caldron.
Guyanese police and army troops said they had recovered the bodies of 409 people who lived at the commune of the People's Temple including its leader, former San Francisco Housing Commissioner Jim Jones.
The search was continuing today for about 600 cult members who fled into the dense jungle rather than take part in a mass suicide ritual. Only a dozen survivors have emerged.
Police reported a woman in Georgetown in radio contact with the commune 150 miles away slit her three children's throats and then her own to fulfill her part of the mass suicide pact.
The mass suicide took place Saturday night, after Temple members massacred Rep. Leo J. Ryan, D-Calif., and four other American visitors on a fact-finding tour to the commune in Jonestown.
The body of the 46-year-old Jones - namesake of the town and leader of the Temple - was found face up among his lifeless followers. His mistress was found dead in bed with another woman, investigators said.
The remaining cult members ran into jungles rife with quicksand and flesh-eating piranha fish rather than participate in the mass suicide.
. Many who fled were hunted down and shot with automatic rifles by gunmen from the People's Temple.
Officials said the bodies of the cultists were scattered around an altar along with hundreds of dogs who were poisoned first.
Police quoted survivors as saying the doctor and nurse of the commune brought to the altar a vat of purple potion laced with cyanide.
The liquid was sprayed down the throats of children and animals and then swallowed willingly from plastic cups by adults, who embraced and instantly fell dead together.
Jones had a bullet wound in his bead. It was not known if the wound was self-inflicted or if one of his disciples had shot him.
Maria Katsaris, said by survivors to be Jones' mistress, was found dead in bed with an unidentified woman in a nearby house.
Sharon Amos, a divorcee living in Georgetown, cut the throats of her three children and then killed herself the same way.
She had been in radio contact with the commune, police said.
"We keep finding bodies in isolated places," assistant police commissioner C.A. Roberts said.
An earlier death toll of 383 was broken down to 163 women, 82 children and 138 men. All were Americans except for seven adopted Guyanese children who lived at the camp.
Police searching the commune found 800 U.S. passports, 30 to 40 automatic weapons, hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition, $500,000 in gold bullion, another $500,000 in mixed currencies and envelopes stuffed with uncashed U.S. Social Security checks, Roberts said.
In Washington, the Pentagon said today three C-141 jet transports and two helicopters would fly to Guyana to transport bodies back to the United States.
The bodies of Ryan, a legislative aide and three newsmen who accompanied him were flown to the United States today. Mark Lane, a lawyer-author who was legal adviser to Jones, told a news conference of "the satanic situation building up" in the commune during the fact-finding mission.
Lane said as the mission was leaving the camp with disgruntled Temple members, a man sprang at the congressman with a knife but was restrained.
Shortly afterward, Ryan was gunned down along with four other Americans - NBC correspondent Don Harris, cameraman Robert Brown, San Francisco Examiner photographer Gregory Robinson and cult member Patricia Parks.
Eight other Americans were also wounded in the hail of gunfire.
Lane said Jones ordered him to attend an assembly of the congregation, where eight grinning men took automatic rifles and ammunition from a shed.
"We are all going to die," they told Lane cheerfully, then embraced him and headed for the assembly hall. Lane and another lawyer took cover in the brush. They heard speeches glorifying death then heard Jones shout "Mother" several times, followed by automatic rifle fire.