This story is a request from my son and a couple other persons who feel this story should be told.
Don Harris was a brilliant story writer and video producer of the best prison gang documentary that has come out to date. He had an understanding of mankind both good and bad. Don was very forthright and when I first met him he laid it on the line. He said that he had heard about the Task Force operations and wanted to do a story about the inmates in prison and in free society. He said that he would appreciate working with us, but that he would do the story without our help, but wanted to get the facts straight.
We checked out his credentials which were impeccable. We decided to allow him access to our files and interview our informants. We also took him inside the prisons and down to Tijuana to interview Joe Morgan’s crime partner, Harry Gamboa Buckley. (Buckley refused to be interviewed, but Don was satisfied with our attempts.)
We worked on other stories with him and became good friends. Don told us about a madman preacher that had taken his congregation to Guyana where he felt that he would not be pursued nor persecuted. Don said that Congressman Leo Ryan had received letters from family members of preacher Jim Jones that complained that their relatives were being abused. Congressman Ryan decided to go to Guyana to check out the story, and asked Don if he would care to join him.
Don was telling this in front of Chief Jon Elder who felt this could be a very dangerous assignment and told me to give Don my bullet proof vest.
We later learned from newspaper accounts that upon arrival in Guyana, they were met at the airport by armed guards who escorted them to see Jim Jones. They apparently talked to a few members of the congregation, but could feel the tension in the air. As they were leaving, a car followed them back to the airport. As they were about to enter their plane, the men that had followed them suddenly and without warning shot all of them. Don may have survived the shooting, but to make sure they were dead, they shot Don in the head with a shotgun.
After this, the men returned to Jim Jones who was sitting at the table making sure that his entire congregation, 908 members were drinking the cyanide laced kool-aid that he had prepared. Jim Jones then killed himself by using a gun.
The real tragedy here was that this madman took away at the tender age of 42, one of the kindest, brilliant men that I had the honor of knowing. RIP