James Warren Jones (May 13, 1931 – November 18, 1978) was an American civil rights preacher, faith healer, and cult leader who conspired with his inner circle to direct a mass suicide and mass murder of his followers in his jungle commune at Jonestown, Guyana. He launched the Peoples Temple in Indiana during the 1950s. Rev. Jones was officially ordained in 1956 by the Independent Assemblies of God and in 1964 by the Disciples of Christ. He moved his congregation to California in 1965 and gained notoriety with its activities in San Francisco in the 1970s. He then left the United States, bringing many members to a Guyana jungle commune.
In 1978, media reports surfaced of human rights abuses in the Peoples Temple in Jonestown. U.S. Representative Leo Ryan led a delegation to the commune to investigate. Ryan and others were murdered by gunfire while boarding a return flight with some former cult members who had wished to leave. Jones then ordered and likely coerced a mass suicide by 918 commune members, 304 of them children, almost all by cyanide-poisoned Flavor Aid.