Survivor Profile: Edith Bogue

Edith Bogue, mother of Tommy, was an active member within Peoples Temple who lived for a period of time in Jonestown located in Guyana, South America who narrowly escaped after the mass suicide in 1978. Bogue was a key member in Peoples Temple’s history as she was a longstanding member whose family became more and more actively involved through the years. Though Edith has not been the most outspoken survivor after the events that occurred in Guyana on November 18, 1978, her son, Tommy, has been outspoken and much about her can be learned through the details he has discussed.

What can be found from Edith comes from the various FBI files (FBI report 1681-23) regarding Peoples Temple and the Jonestown massacre. Bogue began her membership in the Peoples Temple congregation 1968 when the Temple occupied land in Mendocino County, California for a period in the late 1960’s – early 1970’s. Though she was a bit reluctant, Edith and her children departed to Jonestown in July 1977. It was almost immediately that Edith began to dislike living at Jonestown, and only initially went as a result of her children wanting to go. She was unable to escape or defect, however, because like many Peoples Temple members, she signed a significant number of blank documents that Jones planned to use as confessions to crimes which was a commonly used tactic against many Peoples Temple members.

Although Edith participated in a few of the suicide rehearsals or what Jones called “White Nights”, she elected to defect on the Saturday that Congressman Leo Ryan was visiting the Jonestown camp. Though it was known that Edith wanted to leave for quite some time, she explained to Jones that she had to defect because of obligations to her family. Interestingly enough, Edith was on the truck when Congressman Ryan and others were attacked and killed, but Edith herself remained unharmed. Upon arriving home in the United States, Edith was compliant with the FBI, but not much can be found elsewhere of her speaking out regarding Peoples Temple or Jonestown operations.

 

 


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