Also known as the “mad messiah,” Jones was founder and leader of the “People’s Temple.” In 1965, Jones claimed that the world would be engulfed in a nuclear war on July 15, 1967. When that didn’t happen, Jones went about establishing his communist commune in “Jonestown” in Guyana. The isolated jungle land leased by Jones from the Guyanese government was used as the location of the People’s Temple.
Jones is notorious for the November 18, 1978 mass murder of more than 900 Temple members there. Recorded on audiotape, the cult leader convinced members to commit “revolutionary suicide” by ingesting cyanide poisoning in protest against capitalism. The incident was the single greatest loss of American life in a non-natural disaster until Sept. 11, 2001. Jones died alongside temple members of a self-inflicted gun wound.