Dear Dad Letter – 89-4286-BB-31-a-62 (transcript)

introduction | transcript | annotation |pdf 89-4286-BB31A-61-62

Dearest Edith;

I have been thinking fondly of you these past several months since we’ve seen each other. I can say with utter sincerity that you have been the warmest, most satisfying companion to me in my lonliest hours that a human being could have possibly been. I long to see your cheerful face, and to hear your under-standing voice in my ear again. It would be so good, Edith, just to touch your hand once more. I hope you can see past the differences that separate us now, and perhaps know that what I have felt for you, and am feeling now, is undiluted love. Just pure and simple love. Please, please don’t let circumstances of the present cloud your vision of what we had, and could have, if you were here with me now.

I could never have worked out my life as I must live it there at the project in Guyana, Edith. First, my esteem; even adoration, of Comrade Cheddi Jagan was looked on with embarrassment and disapproval by Jim, who would not even tolerate my objectively discussing the merits of that great man with members of the Temple. I found this restictiveness intolerable, both morally and practically. If Jim chooses to work with Burnham and his party, that is his business, he has no right refusing another side to be discussed among intelligent people. I personally disdain Burnham, and feel that he has abandoned the accomplishments of the People and their revolution. It takes guts to be the minority opposition in Guyana, and that’s what people like Jim Jones and Forbes Burnham don’t give enough credit to!

But one thing that I beg of you now, Edith. Do Not let your commitment to high principles (and I know that yours are the highest always,) delude you into thinking that we cannot love one another as we have before, and at the same time serve those principles to the fullest. High ideals and great principles make people better able to love, Edith, and you and I can be happier than those uncommitted ones who have not developed their capacity to love by serving the greater cause of socialism. If you stay there in Jonestown, Edith, you will learn much of how to serve Jonestown, but you will lose sight of the greater movement now taking shape in America. This is where the real revolution is growing; at the root of the system. There, you are just fighting the peripheral skirmishes, while the actual struggle goes on in America.

I know you have given your all to the cause you believe in. That’s just the kind of person you are, and I love you the more for it. I hold these qualities in you like pearls of great value. Unprincipled people like Forbes Burnham can keep their own private funds in Swiss bank accounts, and never feel a pang of remorse for their dishonesty. Not as with you, my love, for I know that you agonise over the minutest details of your life, to make sure that you are living in accord with the integrity to which you have committed your life.

I hope with all my heart you will forgive what may seem to you now like a inconsistency, but believe me when I say that I did it for love. Love I know you and I could share when the time and opportunity presented itself.

That time is now, Edith. Please, I implore you, reach out and take it. Do not send my love back void, for this would break my heart, more than you could ever know.

Loving you with my whole heart,


Timothy Oliver Stoen

To: Dad                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 28 May 1978

From: Edith Roller Edith Roller

Subject: Proposal re Class Enemy #1-Tim Stoen

In view of your remarks last night concerning the harm done to our family by this individual, I want to reiterate my offer to take care of him, with a few additional details. What I plan is to follow through on the basis of the letter he wrote to me, pretend I am browned off with communal living and miss him terribly, that as I am not much use to the present concerns of Jonestown, I can find a way to return, and shall look forward to seeing him. When I got to the States, I would proceed on that basis, presuming that, as I suspect, he hasn’t got a real friend in the world, nor anyone who cares about him. It always seemed strange to me, but I do seem to have some sexual attractiveness to him. I may add that the pleasure was one-sided, because I got no fun out of it at all, except, as I thought then, that I was giving some relaxation to a person who was serving the cause well. Now I would be serving the cause.

I would go ahead on the basis I could become intimate with him and induce him at least to share a cup of tea or coffee with me, if not liquor, into which at an opportune time I could slip some quick-acting poison. If the circumstances were such that it would be better for me not to live, I could take it too. I imagine such a poison could be obtained, say from a garden supply store—a pesticide of some sort. A pesticide would be appropriate.

As far as conspiracy charges against the church because I could not have done this without the help of the organization, I don’t see that one more charge could make a difference, what with war threatening. Before such charges could be tried, it would be all over. I think it wise that I should go out as a person who didn’t fit in here. If an attempt were made to force me to do harm to the church, I don’t see how this could be effective. In the first place, I don’t believe I know any secrets not already known to them. In the second place, by my association with Tim Stoen, I would be joining the conspiracy—for a while. If they tried me on any charge, including murder, I wouldn’t worry. I don’t mind going to jail. I know the CIA. If torture was threatened, I would commit suicide.

I further propose that during the time it takes to put this plan into action—I imagine the conspirators would test me for sincerity – I go to Bechtel’s and get my old job back or a similar one. Believe it or not, I feel sure that People’s Temple and all the publicity about it has scarcely made a ripple at that insulated institution. But if they have anything to say, I can get a job somewhere else. The advantage of going to Bechtel’s is, not only that I had worked up to a pretty good salary, but I am familiar with the contracts they have in such countries as Brazil, Venezuela, Nigeria and Algeria—where I know they have operations. This information might come in handy, as I wrote yesterday, because it could give access to electrical power plants where nuclear material could be obtained by guerrilla action. In case of nuclear war wiping out their top leadership in the States, a resultant gap in organization might offer a wedge for revolutionary activity in those countries and others where Bechtel is operating.

I have for some time felt a guilt because I did not stay longer in the States and contribute my considerable salary for a longer period of time—I just had to get over to Jonestown. I was making around $10,000 a year. If I could kill two birds with one stone, I would feel it my duty to do so. Ever since I joined the Temple, I have actually been somewhat convinced that I must have been in the CIA for some reason. My intelligence knowledge may perhaps be put to use. If, however, this just represents some Edgar Allan Poe dreams of glory, I may be able to get the money for my fare home from my Family. They didn’t particularly want me to come here, and most people love saying, “I told you so.” Just ignore it.