Jones lived well, kept to himself
during mysterious Brazil stay
San Jose Mercury News - Nov. 27, 1978, p. 17A
Special to the Mercury
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil During a mysterious 11-month visit to Brazil in the early 1960s, Jim Jones lived well, donated food and clothing to the poor and generally kept to himself, according to neighbors.
One neighbor said a U.S. Consulate car was used to do shopping for the Jones family, but the consulate described that as "highly unlikely."
Police officials said Jones, his wife Marceline, and their four children arrived aboard a commercial airliner on April 11, 1962, at Sao Paulo, Brazil's financial capital. Immigration officials, who carefully control passports in Brazil, identified the children as the Jones' natural son, Steven, 3, and three adopted children: Susan, 9, Lew Eric, 5, and Warren, 1.
The Jones family went on to Belo Horizonte, capital of the mining and agricultural state of Minas Gerais, where they checked into the expensive Financial Hotel, the officials said.
Later, they said, Jones and his family moved into a large house at 203 Maraba Avenue, in the city's well-to-do Santo Antonio section.
A retired Brazilian engineer, Sebastiaco Carlos Rocha, who lived next door, said the Jones family "enjoyed a very expensive lifestyle."
Rocha gave this account of Jones' stay in the city, about 250 miles east of Rio de Janeiro:
"He lived like a rich man. Most days, he would leave the house with a suitcase at about 6 a.m. and return at around 6 or 7 p.m. He never said where he went.
"During the few conversations that we had, Mr. Jones told me he was a retired U.S. Navy captain and was in Brazil to 'recuperate from the Korean War.' He said he planned to go to Argentina or Cuba after visiting Brazil.
"He was not a very communicative person and he seemed to have very few friends in Belo Horizonte. Except for his mysterious trips with the suitcase, he spent most of his time with his family at home.
"When he did talk, he would ramble from one subject to the next and did not seem to make much sense. At these times he seemed somewhat mentally unbalanced.
"Mr. Jones seemed to enjoy talking about war in general. He also displayed great preoccupation with the world's social problems and said he hated hearing anything bad about blacks and or people in general."
Rocha's teen-age daughter, Maria, said Jones' wife gave a different reason for their visit to Brazil.
"She said they were here because she suffered from a lung ailment and doctors had told them that the climate here would be good for her," Maria said.
Rocha said "some people here believed he was an agent for the American CIA. I never saw him drink or smoke. He said he received a monthly payment from the U.S. government for his military service but he did not say how much."
Rocha said Jones attended a church operated by American Pentacostal missionaries in a suburb of the city.
"He engaged in some heated arguments with the missionaries there but I don't know what the debates were about."
Other neighbors, who asked not to be identified, said Jones would turn aside questions about his plans in Brazil, but they said his daughter Susan told them her father intended to establish a branch of his Peoples Temple in Brazil.
Several neighbors said a car bearing the emblem of the U.S. Consulate would deliver groceries and other items to the Jones home from time to time.
A spokesman for the consulate said it was "highly unlikely" a consulate car would have been used for such purpose.
Police officials said Jones and his family were given temporary visas, good only for 11 months. When the visas expired in February 1963, officials said, the Jones family left the country for an undisclosed destination.
Brazilian authorities said records gave no other indication Jones had visited Brazil at any other time.