Sam Tripoli Pushes Jonestown Lies and Bizarre Theories

Sam Tripoli Pushes Jonestown Lies and Bizarre Theories

In a recent podcast, Sam Tripoli says Jonestown members were killed by the government. His guest falsely claims the wife of James Earl Ray was found dead in Jonestown.

Be Scofield is the author of the new book Hunting Lucifer: One Reporter's Search for Cults and Demons. Her cult reporting is mentioned in the NY Times, Rolling Stone, People, and has been turned into HBO, Netflix, Dr. Phil, VICE, and more.


December 1st, 2023

In a recent episode of Sam Tripoli’s hugely popular Tin Foil Hat Podcast, he and guest Austin Picard pushed the most bizarre and unhinged claims about Jonestown which are easily refuted. They both claimed Jonestown members were killed by the U.S. military. "They fucking murked the fuckers," Tripoli says referring to the intentional killing of Jonestown survivors.

Picard makes an astonishing and false claim that the wife of James Earl Ray (alleged MLK JR. assassin) was found dead at Jonestown. She is still alive, however. Her name is Anna Sandhu Ray and she’s an artist. James Earl Ray only had one wife. They were married in 1978 while in he was in prison and it lasted 14 years. 

Picard also claims Grace Walden was found dead at Jonestown. She was the wife of the landlord who ran the building from which MLK Jr. was shot. Walden is not listed on the list of deceased victims at Jonestown. Nor is there any evidence that she was ever in Jonestown. 

Austin claimed James Earl Ray's wife was killed in Jonestown but she is still alive

When I challenged Picard he sent an article about a memo found at Jonestown that discussed having Walden come to Jonestown. Walden was a key witness who denied James Earl Ray was the shooter. She was forcibly institutionalized soon after her claim but later released to the care of Mark Lane, a Jonestown attorney and someone who represented Ray during a hearing. He was trying to protect Walden and floated the idea of bringing her to Jonestown as he was an attorney for the group. 

"There is a connection that destroyed my mind," Picard said in the Tin Foil Podcast, referring to the Mark Lane connection. "Both of those key witnesses, their bodies were found amongst the dead at Jonestown," Picard tells Tripoli. "That is insane, the craziest shit I've ever heard in my life," Tripoli responds.

It's not true. Neither the bodies of Anna Sandhu Ray nor Grace Walden were found at Jonestown as Austin Picard claims. And there’s no evidence Walden was ever in Jonestown. 

Austin Picard appeared on Sam Tripoli's podcast

"We never know how many bodies were actually there," Picard says, referring to the dead bodies found at Jonestown. "Mathematically, from its inception Jonestown never made sense and the reports were always false."

Picard conspiracizes in the Tin Foil podcast that the shift from the original count of 400 to the final 900+ bodies was nefarious. This is easily explained, however. The initial count came after a Guyanese Major was told 400 passports were found. Also, the visual inspection was only from the ground, not from the air. Plus bodies were found strewn around the cult compound. Picard says "none of that makes sense" referring to children being found under the adults as an explanation of the initial low body count.

Picard then falsely claims that "very quickly" there were over "300 American Green Berets" on the site as well as "600 British Black Watch commandos who had coincidentally been running training exercises nearby."

"When have we heard they run training exercises the day of events or leading up to events like this?" Picard conspiracizes. Tripoli then chimes in, "Are you even saying that maybe they didn't even get poisoned?" Picard says they were not poisoned. "I think they were all murdered to cover up this massive project in Guyana. Because during this time you have to consider MK-Ultra."

"They fucking murked the fuckers," Tripoli said.

"According to Charles Huff who was one of the Green Berets in charge of the operation at Jonestown 16 highly trained soldiers who participated and witnessed the operation all died and all of their deaths were designated suicide," Picard claims.

"This claim is patently ridiculous," says Jeff Brailey referring to the notion that Green Berets showed up quickly in Jonestown. "The State Department was not even aware of the massacre until late Saturday evening." Brailey thoroughly debunks Charles Huff's claims, revealing him as a liar. "The task force’s helicopters were not ready to fly until Monday, November 20. So right from the beginning of his letter, Huff, whose bona fides as a Green Beret have yet to be confirmed, is a liar." Chris Knight-Griffin further debunks these Jonestown military conspiracies.

"For all of these supposed survivors they all had to report back to this advanced medical facility in San Francisco. Sounded like a decommission process," Picard states. "There were 7 that didn't go to this medical facility and they all died within weeks of Jonestown."

In February 1980 two former Jonestown members Al and Jeannie Mills and their daughter were found shot execution-style in their home. Previously they had been Jim Jones' strongest enforcers but became critics. Austin Picard falsely claims they were killed for not going to this "advanced medical facility" and floated a bizarre conspiracy. There was a 17-year-old child in the house who had gunpowder on his hands but he denied the killing. "Perhaps someone triggered this child's sleeper assassin MK-Ultra conditioning," Picard claims. Detectives never solved the murders.

"Perhaps someone triggered this child's sleeper assassin MK-Ultra conditioning."

"If they ever did drink anything it may have been to make them pass out so it would be easier to commit the murders," Picard tells Tripoli. "The vast majority had gunshot wounds."

Picard tries to claim very few or none of the Jonestown victims died from cyanide. However, "Dr. Leslie Mootoo, the forensic pathologist who examined the bodies at the scene in Guyana, said he aspirated the stomach contents of 65 bodies at the scene and all 65 were positive with a field test for cyanide."

"The Green Berets were under instruction to kill the survivors," Picard says referring to the bizarre claims of an anonymous person named Scott Hooker. "As they were landing the survivors were waving to be rescued but the Green Berets were ordered to shoot them dead," Picard reads from Hooker. "I think it was direct orders," Picard says.

"They fucking murked the fuckers," Tripoli says referring to the intentional killing of Jonestown survivors.

Picard also says Richard Dwyer was undoubtedly a CIA agent. But there is no proof of this. Dwyer was a Foreign Service agent in Georgetown and was injured during the Jonestown Massacre.

Picard spews some of the biggest falsehoods and leaves out some of the interesting evidence supporting a conspiracy. Why did Jim Jones move to Ukiah, California? He claimed he had a vision that it’d be the only place to survive nuclear Armageddon. But we know he didn’t actually believe that.

Ukiah was very close to the Mendocino State psych hospital. Jim Jones’s wife and girlfriend were nurses and they got jobs there. This hospital was one of several that also did LSD experiments. And Jones managed to get patients transferred to his group in Ukiah.

It’s quite a coincidence that he moves right near a psych hospital running LSD experiments and that his girlfriends work there and patients are brought into his group. And there were a large quantity of psych meds and drugs found in Jonestown.

Also, Jim Jones had two passports. One in 1960 and the other issued in 1962 while he was supposedly traveling.

Jones was a poor preacher in Indianapolis in the early 1960s but in 1962 he all of a sudden moves his family to a wealthy area in Sao Paolo Brazil after having initially staying in a luxury hotel there. His neighbor while in Brazil saw Jones leave with a leather briefcase every morning at 6 a.m. and return at 7 p.m. He and several neighbors often saw a U.S. consulate car in front of Jones’ home.

It would take a serious researcher years to sort through the conspiracy theories surrounding Jonestown. Some of them are interesting and evidence-based but many are not.

-> Hunting Lucifer is the new book by journalist Be Scofield about hunting cults and dangerous gurus.