Although the Peoples Temple cult seems to have been obliterated in the deaths of hundreds of members in Guyana over the weekend, former members and some Bay Area law enforcement agencies are not convinced that the possibility of violence no longer exists.
Only hours after the mass suicide murder of temple members in Jonestown, Guyana, on Saturday, an anonymous caller threatened to kill Will Holsinger, one of the late Rep. Leo J. Ryan's (D-Calif.) staff members who participated in investigating the temple and whose father, Joseph, was Ryans administrative assistant. FBI agents investigating the possibility of a U.S. based conspiracy behind Ryan's murder also are investigating the threat against Will Holsinger.
Bay Area residents with family members in the cult as well as some former temple members have been assigned police to protect against possible new violence.
Berkeley police have been guarding former members of the temple who run a halfway house, the Human Freedom Center, on a round-the-clock basis for former cultists. Although the number of guards has been reduced, officer Dick Berger said "we still have people on duty there, and will for as long as in necessary."
San Francisco police have been asigned to protect former temple members and their families in the wake of reports that a "hit list" was kept by the temple's leader, the Rev. Jim Jones. According to former members, those on the list were to be killed in the event that something happened to Jones or the Peoples Temple.
"There have been requests for protection from many people following the shootings in Guyana, although you will understand we're not at liberty to tell you who from," said Sgt. Gerald McNaughton, a spokesman for the San Francisco police. "We are evaluating each request as they come in and providing police protection where it seems really necessary."
Despite the heavy security, some former cult members remain fearful. Jim and Teresa Cobb and Wanda Johnson called a press conference at the Human Freedom Center yesterday to say they believed Jones may still be alive - that the body found in Guyana may be a double for him.
"Nobody here is going to believe that Jim Jones is dead until we see fingerprints, X-rays or some other physical evidence that the man found dead in Guyana is, in fact, Jim Jones," center spokeswoman Polly Morton said.
"I can tell you that we know of one former temple member who has in the past been forced to dye his hair and wear makeup in public in order to pass as Jim Jones. To us the possibility of a double is very real."
FBI sources said no physical evidence has been released confirming that the body in question is that of Jones.
Despite the atmosphere of fear and suspicion, things remained quiet yesterday at the peoples Temple building in San Francisco. Onlookers continued to hold an uneventual vigil in front of the building, while police watched, no members appeared to make statements.
Meanwhile, Ryan's body was flown into the Bay Area. Family and staff members are to attend his funeral this morning.
In Los Angeles the Associated Press reporter that Dr. Carlton Goodlet, Jones' doctor, said earlier this week that he had flown to South America to examine Jones in August and insisted that his patient enter a hospital, but Jones was reluctant to.
Goodlet refused to discuss the specifics of Jones' case, but writer Donald Freed, who spent a week at the Guyana compound in August, said Jones told him he was dying of a "cancer or cancer-like" disease.
Goodlet agreed that Jones was "distressed" about the illness. "He knew so much depended on his good health," the physician said. "The whole idea [of the settlement] was built around his availability."