Survivor Profile: Monica Bagby

Monica Bagby joined the Peoples Temple in July of 1978 (RYMUR 1681-12), at 18-years-old.  She stood at 6 ft. tall and was known for having the courage to challenge Jones.

Monica’s mom, Essie Clark, sent her to Jonestown after Monica got involved with drugs (Gosney n.p.). After she graduated from Opportunity High School, she left for Jonestown. FBI Interviews show that Monica’s mom was an enthusiastic member for 4 to 5 years and she thought Jonestown would be good for Monica. Monica’s mom never went to Guyana (RYMUR 1681-12). 

Monica worked in the fields picking bananas at Jonestown  (RYMUR 1681-12).

Monica was never wanting to be in Jonestown. This, according to Vernon Gosney, was extremely valuable to the escape of Monica. She was not indoctrinated into the Temple mindset because she was an outsider of sorts to the temple. She never liked it because her mom sent her down there. 

She also said she decided to leave Jonestown because she was afraid after hearing about suicide practices and mass suicides.(RYMUR 1681-12).

Vernon even notes her saying, “Let’s get the fuck out of here!” in the fall of 1978 (Gosney n.p.). 

Vernon said in a Hazlitt article that he got the attention of Congressman Leo Ryan to help get him and Monica out of Jonestown by passing a note to him on Nov. 17, 1978 (Rohrlich n.p.) (RYMUR 1681-22).

Congressman Leo promised them the first two seats on the plane out of Jonestown, leaving the next day.

According to the article in Hazlitt, Monica was shot in the back twice, after Larry Layton pulled out a gun. Layton had pretended to defect in order to kill everyone involved in leaving Jonestown (Rohrlich n.p.). Layton’s gunned stalled after he made three shots (RYMUR 1681-17).


Monica recalled to Elizabeth MacQueen, a former art teacher, that she crawled off the tarmac and hide under a bush. She eventually realized that she would bleed to death, so she called out hoping someone with good intentions would help her. Eventually, they carried her to in order to get her to the hospital (MacQueen n.p).

Monica survived the attack. She was treated after the pilot brought her to Georgetown that same day (Gosney n.p.)

Monica’s  teacher noted that when she returned from her surgeries, she was riddled by PTSD.    Monica stayed with Elizabeth MacQueen for some time before Monica and Elizabeth lost touch (MacQueen n.p).

Monica was later incarcerated for selling cocaine to an undercover officer (Gosney n.p.).

Monica died at age 49.  



Vernon Gosney, “Remembering Monica,” The Jonestown Report 15 (Nov. 2013). Accessed at:

Justin Rohrlich, “How did this happen, and How Did I Not See it Coming?” Hazlitt (Dec. 2014). Accessed at:

No author, “Obituations”  The Jonestown Report 15 (Nov. 2013). Accessed:

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