Michiganders Who Died In – and Escaped From – the Jonestown Massacre, November 18, 1978
The Jonestown massacre took place on November 18, 1978.
Over 900 people died.
Six Jonestown residents were from Michigan, all Detroiters, but only two of them survived.
The six were:
Anthony Hicks, 12 years old
Romaldo Hicks, 13 years old
Of those six, only Rhodes and Smith escaped and survived.
Jonestown was basically a prison – unknown to the followers of Reverend Jim Jones – disguised as an “Agricultural Project” carved out in the jungles of Guyana, South America. Jones was the minister of the People’s Temple, a California church that turned into a cult, led by Jones who wielded control over his parish.
Word got back to the United States that there were people complaining about being held captive in Jonestown, wanting to get back to the States. Representative Leo Ryan heard this and made the trip to Jonestown, where he was treated royally…while the people of Jonestown were told to behave themselves and act like they were happy.
Getting ready to leave, Ryan announced that anyone who would like to go back to the States with him were welcome. A few went with him to the airport…but they were followed by Jones’ goons who shot & killed Ryan and three journalists.
Jones knew he would pay for this, so he ordered up a huge vat of a cyanide-laced grape-flavored drink. Many of the people willingly drank the poison, believing that they were being “saved”. Others who were afraid were forced to drink, many at gunpoint. The children were made to drink first.
Fortunately for Odell Rhodes, he was able to slip away unnoticed and hid in the bushes, watching what was unraveling before his eyes. Previously, he had mentioned to Jones his desire to leave, and more than likely he was a member that Jones did not want to survive. After most everyone was dead or dying, Odell says he saw Jones kill himself by shooting himself in the head. The other survivor, Eugene Smith, escaped death that day, thanks to being in Georgetown picking up supplies from customs. However, his wife, baby son, and mother all died in Jonestown.
Odell Rhodes passed away in 2014.
Eugene Smith has been writing his memoirs.