Dover, DE, United States (4E) – Thirty-eight containers with ashes have been found in a former funeral home in Dover and nine of them belong to victims of the 1978 Jonestown mass suicide-murder that killed 913 members of the religious cult Peoples Temple.
The Dover police and the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security (DDSHS) Division of Forensic Science are investigating how the ashes of the massacre victims ended up at the Minus Funeral Home at 222 N. Queen Street.
The cremains were found by the property’s owner, according to Kimberly Chandler, a spokeswoman of DDSHS. She did not identify the property owner and did not say when the ashes were discovered.
A total 33 containers were marked and identified. They were dated from the 1970s to the 1990s. State forensic investigators checked documents found in the funeral home and learned that nine of the cremains belong to victims of the massacre. The investigators are identifying the ashes and notifying family members to claim the containers.
All dead victims of the Jonestown Massacre were flown from Jonestown, Guyana to the Port Mortuary at Dover Air Force Base for identification and burial in 1978. About 29 of the victims, who drank cyanide-laced grape punch on orders of Peoples Temple leader Jim Jones, were cremated in New Jersey. About 409 bodies were buried at the Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland, California. The remaining remains were cremated or buried in family cemeteries.
Delaware had barred the cremation and burial of the massacre victims in the state.