Local Jonestown Survivor Speaks Out About Controversial Memorial
By Laura Cole
DIXON (CBS13) — A controversial memorial for the massacre at Jonestown will include the name of mass murderer Jim Jones, and now one local Jonestown survivor is speaking out about it.
Few can share the stories of Jonestown, but Thom Bogue can. He is a survivor who became a small business owner and a Dixon city councilmember.
“When life is in its down moments, it can never go down as far as it has ever been for me,” said Thom.
Thom’s family was loyal disciples Rev. Jim Jones. By 14, Thom he was living in Jonestown.
“At that point, he is God, see. And that’s the difference is in his mind he was everything to everybody,” said Thom.
But, after three years his family was ready to leave. And when a congressman and his aides showed up, they saw a way out.
“At that point I was scared. We were all scared when we were actually leaving because it was too easy. It was too easy,” said Thom.
When they got on a private plane, gunmen showed up and started shooting.
“It’s obvious. It’s either close the airplane door or die,” he said.
Thom and his sister were both shot and ran into the jungle where they hid for three days and two nights until locals helped them to safety and reunited them with their parents. That’s when they learned that more than 900 people in Jonestown had committed suicide by drinking cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. It was all orchestrated by the man who believed he was God.
When asked if he thought Jones was a mass murderer, Thom said he does.
More than 30 years later, Jim Jones is once again at the center of controversy. The issue is whether Jones’ name should be on a monument for a memorial at the Oakland Cemetery where many of his victims are buried.
Thom said he doesn’t have a problem with Jones’ name on the memorial because it’s piece of a lot of peoples’ past — a past that has helped Thom build his future as a booming auto mechanic and now a Dixon City councilmember. He has already put Jonestown behind him, and just hopes history doesn’t repeat itself.
“If you find yourself in that situation run and don’t ever look back,” said Thom.
Thom says he hasn’t spoken to Congresswoman Jackie Speier since the day of the shooting. But he credits her and the late congressman Leo Ryan with saving his life.