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A timeline of Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple


1954: Jim Jones opens church in Indianapolis. Preaches racial equality.

1965: Worried about a nuclear attack, Jones and many church families move to Ukiah. Jones declares the Bible is false, and he is God's true prophet.

1970: Jones begins services in San Francisco.

1973: Jones declares, "For some unexplained reasons, I happen to be selected to be God." After eight members defect, Jones first mentions "revolutionary suicide."

1974: Jones leases more than 3,800 acres of land in Guyana and begins to build Jonestown.

1975: Jones reaches his height of power in San Francisco, helping elect George Moscone as mayor and Harvey Milk as city supervisor. Moscone, in turn, names Jones as head of San Francisco's Housing Authority.

1977: On Aug. 1, Jones leaves for Guyana after a news story describing him as a cruel, paranoid criminal.

1977-78: A "Concerned Relatives" group forms, and several lawsuits are filed for the return of children from Jonestown. Jones begins holding night meetings, telling people they are surrounded by unnamed enemies.

1978: Nearly 1,100 people are living in the compound built for about 300. Food is in short supply. Jones separates children from their parents and sometimes separates spouses.

NOV. 15, 1978: Rep. Leo Ryan, D-San Francisco, arrives at Jonestown with newspaper and TV journalists, plus relatives of Jones' followers.

NOV. 18, 1978: Ryan leaves with his group, which includes 16 defectors. They reach the airstrip six miles away, but a handful of Temple members arrive and begin shooting, killing Ryan, three reporters and a defector, and wounding several others. Back at the compound, Jones calls everyone to the pavilion area and tells them there is "no hope," that they must all commit "revolutionary suicide" to avoid having U.S. forces take and torture their children. Armed Temple members surround the people to ensure everyone takes the poison. After all 912 have been killed, Jones dies from a bullet. About 85 people survive, most because they are away. Former Modestan Michael Prokes is among them.

MARCH 13, 1979: Prokes commits suicide at a Modesto motel with a Bee reporter and photographer present, along with other media members.

MAY 25, 1979: The last of 248 unidentified bodies from Jonestown — most of them children — are buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland.