EX-HOOSIER ‘PROPHET’ BECKONED
Family Pleads With Aged Aunt Not To ‘Throw Away Her Bible’
By CAROLYN PICKERING (Third Of A Series)
“When this preacher Jones advised my aunt to throw away her Bible, we started fighting.”
But the battle was in vain, said Eugene Cordell, 3442 Elizabeth Street.
His aunt, 70-year-old Mrs. Edith Cordell, who had adopted Cordell as a child, ignored family pleadin[g]s [i]n 1965 to follow the Rev. James W. Jones to California’s Redwood Valley where the flock now numbers a conservative 4,000 believers.
JONES, under sharp criticism in recent days by former parishioners and other clergy, is the persuasive, 41-year-old former Indianapolis pastor of People’s Temple.
He claims to have resurrected more that 40 from the dead and to possess what he calls the “supra-natural” power to stimulate the passing of cancerous masses during services.
Cordell hasn’t seen his aunt since the day she left, but he’s certain Pastor Jones “practiced a form of witchcraft on her.”
“SHE WAS spellbound by him and, with only a fourth-grade education, she was easy prey,” he said, bitterly.
No less concerned about the welfare of his mother is Edward Mueller of Greenwood.
Mrs. Esther Mueller, now 70, “turned over all her furniture to him – about $2,000 worth – then followed him to California,” Mueller said.
He knows about the furnishings, he said, “because Jones used them to furnish some rental properties he bought around here before he left town.”
One of those rental properties, said Mueller (and Marion County records verify it) was at 1226-28 Windsor Street.
MUELLER contends he and Jones had a “gentleman’s agreement” that he (Mueller) would remodel the double (“it was a real mess”) and as payment Mueller would be permitted to live in one side rent free for three years.
“I spent two years and about $7,000 fixing up the place and when I had it in livable condition Jones sent one of his men out from California and I was told to get off the property,” Mueller declares.
Jones has refused to return calls made by The Indianapolis Star to admit or refute allegations made about his conduct.
The Windsor Street property, according to official records, was purchased by Jones July 13, 1960.
BUT HIS ownership ended last January because real estate taxes, totaling $1,098.57, had not been paid for three years.
The residence has now been razed and the lot will be sold at a county commissioners’ sale soon, according to Harold Platter, property management director for the City of Indianapolis.
The Windsor Street acquisition wasn’t the only business transaction of a non-celestial nature with Pastor Jones, whose literature claims he takes no salary and wears only used clothes, engaged in in Indiana.
ONE business, the Jim-Lu-Mar Corporation, set up as a money-making venture by Jones, his wife and his mother on April 26, 1965 had its corporate charter revoked by the secretary of state on June 1, 1970, because no annual reports ever had been filed.
An Indianapolis woman, Mrs. Kathleen Davenport, who says she is the “business representative” for People’s Temple here, said yesterday she had “never heard of Jim-Lu-Mar.”
But, she hastened to add:
“I’m not in a cult of any kind, but I love Jim Jones and I’m convinced he’s so consecrated he can raise the dead and cure cancer.”
Prior to revocation of Jim-Lu-Mar’s charter, the family-owned enterprise had acquired a nursing home at 2135 North Alabama Street and a double residence at 659-61 East 24th Street, records show.
AFTER JONES took his congregation to California, both properties were conveyed by the corporation to Jones and his wife. Center Township assessor records show the preacher still to be the deeded owner of the properties.
A woman at the nursing home told The Star Jones had sold the nursing home, but she refused to name the new owner.
Center Township assessor records also list Jones as the owner of a now vacant lot at 2366 North College Avenue and a residence and lot at 2356 North College Avenue.
Residences at 2327 Broadway and 670 East 24th Street, according to the same township assessor’s records, are deeded in the name of Mrs. Lynetta Jones, the pastor’s mother.
A PERRY TOWNSHIP residence at 3058 Villa Avenue, now owned by Ovid K. Shirley, was purchased last June from Jones for $8,000, Shirley said.
The Marion County Recorder’s records show that Jones bought the Villa Avenue property in 1966 for approximately $3,500.
Another corporate undertaking – Wings of Deliverance Inc. – a nonprofit, tax exempt religious business organized by Jones in 1965 to “further the Kingdom of God,” also was revoked by the state in 1970 because that corporation, too, had neglected to inform the secretary of state about its corporate activities.
WINGS OF Deliverance was reincorporated last May with Jones, his mother and his wife still the directors and Mrs. Davenport as resident agent.
Mrs. Davenport said she knew nothing about being “resident agent” but she is financial secretary of the small group of the People’s Temple flock which remains in Indianapolis.
“There are only about 12 of us left and we don’t send any money to California,” she declared.
Mrs. Davenport said she was present when the money was counted last October when “Prophet Jones” was in Indianapolis for four days’ preaching.
“HE ONLY TOOK $1,450 back to California with him and the temple was packed at each service,” she said.
The old People’s Temple at 975 North Delaware Street now has a sign out front saying it’s occupied by the St. Jude Deliverance Center.
Mrs. Davenport said she knows how the St. Jude group “got in there, but I’m not at liberty to disclose it.”
(Tomorrow: A California clergyman’s efforts to initiate an official probe of People’s Temple and its attorney.)