Jonestown Victims Found in Old Funeral Home

Officials identify 9 from 1978 massacre

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 7, 2014 2:51 PM CDT

(Newser) – Officials have uncovered the remains of nine victims from the terrifying 1978 Jonestown Massacre, which left more than 900 people dead from drinking a punch spiked with cyanide, the News Journal and Daily Mail report. Forensics investigators confirmed the find at a funeral home in Dover, Delaware, among 38 other long-lost containers of cremated human remains. "It was definitely a shock when we found out exactly what we had," said a police spokesman. "Obviously it's an intriguing story and a tragic story, and to think this was found right here in our jurisdiction ... makes it very compelling to us."

Investigators couldn't say why the ashes were unclaimed, but said they were notifying family members about picking them up. Inspired to dig around the building for more remains yesterday, officials found only an arrowhead, charcoal, oyster shells, and two animal bones. The massacre's history didn't help much either: At the time, all 913 victims were taken to a mortuary at Dover Air Force Base and readied for burial, but at least initially, Delaware wouldn't let them be cremated. The victims were leaders or followers of the Peoples Temple religious cult in Guyana, and died in what the Daily Mail calls "the single largest loss of American civilian life" before 9/11.

The site of the former Minus Funeral Home in Dover, Del., Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014.
The site of the former Minus Funeral Home in Dover, Del., Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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