Shrieks from children and from infants could be heard from miles away. Mothers forced their children to drink the poison before drinking it themselves. Those who chose not to drink the cyanide laced Kool-Aid were shot before they could cause much of a disturbance. It took about five minutes for the poison to take its effect, during this time there would be much weeping and mass confusion. Without warning, the children began to convulse, their eyes rolling back into their heads, they would gasp for breath as the poison took its toll. The adults would moan in agony while watching their children perish, it would soon be their turn to experience the agonizing pain. Even the pets were administered the concoction and were collapsing to the ground in distress and confusion. All that could be heard over the groans was a man's voice urging the people on, reassuring that they would meet again. A shot was fired. Then, silence. .
Jim Jones was born in Indiana in 1931. As an unsupervised child, Jones became fascinated by church work at an early age. When he graduated from High School, in 1949, he married his sweetheart Marceline Baldwin, a nurse. In 1956 Jones opened up his own church called "The People's Temple" in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was an interracial congregation, something unheard of at this time in Indiana. The People's temple bought churches in California, San Francisco and Los Angeles in 1972, and Jones began discussing dying for socialism. He also suffered from mysterious fainting spells, heeded advice from extraterrestrials, practiced faith healing, and experienced visions of nuclear holocaust. The People's Temple Agricultural Project was started in Guyana in 1974, and in July of 1977 Jones and his followers left for Guyana.
The People's Temple, or "Jonestown" as it was later called, was a cult. A cult is considered a subculture, or a category of people who share distinguishing attributes, beliefs, values, and/or norms that set them apart is some significant manner from the dominant culture (Kendall, 2003, 86) Focus magazine defines a cult as "a therapeutic or unconventional religious movement (McBride, 1985, 22).