Survivor Profile: Debbie Layton

Deborah Layton is a surviving member of Jonestown. She first joined the Peoples temple in 1971 after her return to American from an English boarding school moving into the commune at Ukiah, California. Through her time in the Peoples Temple, she became a trusted advisee to Jim Jones and served on leadership positions. She held the title of Financial Secretary to the Peoples Temple. This position allowed her to travel to Europe and other nations to open bank accounts under the Peoples Temple’s name. Alongside her mother and brother, Debbie Layton was a member that migrated to Jonestown, Guyana with the Peoples Temple. Through her time at Jonestown, she began to recognized flaws in the community’s system that she ignored before. However, it wasn’t until she was allowed to accompanied a children’s visit to Georgetown, Guyana that she decided to evacuate from the cruel treatment she suffered at Jonestown.

Upon her return, Layton issued an Affidavit against Jonestown warning the United States government of mistreatment and fear of safety towards the people currently in Jonestown. Her mother, Lisa Layton, passed away from cancer days before the final White Night and mass suicide where as her brother, Larry Layton is currently serving a life sentence for conspiracy to murder California Representative Leo Ryan. Deborah Layton, has recently written a novel titled, Seductive Poison about her experience with Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple. As she lives in California with her family, she also publicly speaks about her experience and can be seen speaking in documentaries surrounding Jonestown and Peoples Temple.

Picture of Deborah Layton from her website,

Writer, Michael Taylor Chronicle Staff. “20 Years Later, Jonestown Survivor Confronts Horrors.” SFGate. November 02, 1998.

“Bio.” Official Site of Deborah Layton – Author of Seductive Poison.

“Affidavit of Deborah Layton Blakey (Text).” Alternative Considerations of Jonestown Peoples Temple.


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