Delaware police just found the remains of nine Jonestown victims

The cremated remains of nine victims of the 1978 Jonestown massacre have been discovered in a former funeral home in Delaware, state officials announced Wednesday.

Authorities were asked to check the former Minus Funeral Home, a facility located about half a mile from the Dover police headquarters, after dozens of containers of cremated remains were found inside the building.

The Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security, along with the Dover Police Department, checked out the property on Wednesday. Inside, they found 38 containers — 33 of which were marked and identified — from an era that spans from 1970 on through the 1990s, officials said.

Nine of these remains were identified as Jonestown victims, the Dover police and the Department of Safety and Homeland Security said in a joint statement.

More than 900 people were killed in the Jonestown massacre in November 1978, when the Rev. Jim Jones ordered his followers to commit “revolutionary suicide” by drinking punch mixed with poison. (The punch was Flavor Aid, rather than Kool-Aid, though the expression “drank the Kool-Aid” continues to endure).

There is actually a reason why bodies from Guyana would be taken to Delaware, of all places: Victims of the mass murder-suicide were flown on specially-equipped Air Force transports to a mortuary at Dover Air Force Base. But it is unclear why these bodies remained in this facility.

All of the remains discovered Wednesday are now in the possession of the state’s homeland security department, which has a division dedicated to forensic science. This division was established by Gov. Jack Markell (D) in June, taking over the duties of the state medical examiner’s office.

Officials searching the facility also found some loosely-compacted soil, they said, so they excavated the property. They discovered several bronze grave markers for veterans who had served between World War I and the Vietnam War and are trying to locate family members of these veterans to return the markers, authorities said.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.

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Mark Berman · August 7, 2014

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