Jonestown cult member remains found in Delaware

The inside of the former Minus Funeral Home in Dover, Delaware Officials found remains of nine victims of the Jonestown massacre in containers left in a former funeral home

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The cremated remains of nine victims of the 1978 mass cult suicide in Jonestown, Guyana, have turned up in a former funeral home in Delaware.

The ashes were discovered in the city of Dover when officials inspected a lot of more than 30 small containers.

Investigators said they did not know why the remains had not been claimed.

More than 900 members of the Peoples Temple died when their leader Jim Jones ordered them to take punch laced with cyanide.

The gate of Jonestown in Guyana (1978) The Peoples Temple moved to a swathe of land Jones's followers had cut out of the Guyana jungle
'Identify family members'

Officials from the Delaware Division of Forensic Science have taken possession of the remains which were discovered at the former Minus Funeral Home in Dover.

"We don't know why they were unclaimed," a spokeswoman with the state Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Kimberly Chandler, told the delawareonline news site.

Bodies of the slain Jonestown cult members More than 900 people died after being instructed to drink poison by cult leader Jim Jones

"What we intend to do is identify family members, reach out to them and make them aware that the remains are available to them."

James Warren "Jim" Jones began his cult, the Peoples Temple, in his native state of Indiana in the 1950s.

In the early 1970s, he moved to San Francisco where he established a free health clinic and drug rehabilitation programme, attracting hundreds of followers.

He became a powerful figure in local politics but allegations of abuse within his cult led him and his followers to relocate to a new home cut from the jungle in the South American country of Guyana in 1977.

Poisoned with cyanide
Jim Jones Jim Jones faced allegations of abuse within his Peoples Tree cult

On 18 November 1978, his followers shot and killed members of a fact-finding group led by US Congressman Leo Ryan, who had travelled to Guyana to investigate reports of abuse.

The same day, Jones ordered his followers to drink a cyanide-laced grape-flavoured punch.

Most complied, although survivors described some people as being shot, injected with poison, or forced to drink the deadly beverage when they resisted. More than 300 children were among the 900 victims.

All of the bodies were flown from Guyana to the Port Mortuary at Dover Air Force Base where they were identified and prepared for burial.

It is not known why some remains were kept at the Minus Funeral Home.

"It was definitely a shock when we found out exactly what we had," Dover police spokesman, Mark Hoffman, told the delawareonline.

"Obviously it's an intriguing story and a tragic story, and to think this was found right here in our jurisdiction, about six blocks from the police department, makes it very compelling to us."

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