Claire Janaro was 39 when she arrived at Georgetown, Guyana the night of the mass suicide. Her two children, Mauri (15) and Daren (14), died in the Jonestown “slaughter,” as Janaro calls it. Her husband, Richard, survived, as he was on Cudjoe, the Temple’s boat, on the Caribbean at the time of the suicide.
During their time in the Temple, the Janaros worked at the Peoples Temple Ranch as caregivers and farmers for seven years. According to the Ukiah Daily Journal, the Ranch was also known as “‘Road K Ranch’ or ‘Happy Acres’” and it was a “care home for the mentally retarded.” Janaro describes her time at the Ranch in an article titled, “State of Mind”: “I have so many vivid memories from the Ranch – the young men we took care of; grapes and pruning the vines each year; yellow mustard flowers covering the vineyard as the grapes grew and ripened . . . With our communal way of living, there was always an extra seat for dinner available to whoever happened by.” The Ukiah Daily Journal article, “Temple Care Home Faces Uncertain Future,” states the Janaros were listed as the “two People’s [sic] Temple members licensed to operate the care home.” The article continues to say that an investigation by the Department of Social Services revealed that, while the care home’s licensing was under the Janaros’ name, it was being operated by Bonnie and Don Beck.
One FBI report listed the following information: “Claire Janaro: White female, brown hair, five feet four inches, about 200 pounds, about 42 years old, non-violent, very upset regarding the death of her children.” The grief that Janaro experienced the night of November 18, 1978, would stay with her for the rest of her life. Janaro reflects on how her children’s passing affected her life: “For years the loss of my children was overwhelming, as was the loss of my Temple family and Temple life. I had visions of running my car off the edge of Mulholland Drive in the hills between L.A. and the San Fernando Valley. I didn’t want to live, and yet I knew I couldn’t bear to hurt anyone anymore by taking my life.” Janaro claims antidepressants and love saved her life, as well as the love and support of other Temple families and survivors. Richard Janaro died in 2003 but Claire survives him. She is currently 78 and resides in California.
(Claire Janaro, first trip to Guyana, 1974) https://www.flickr.com/photos/peoplestemple/4729033449/