Maria Katsaris Wiki: A Believer and Leader in Jonestown

The Jonestown Massacre occurred nearly 30 years ago, resulting in more than 900 people dead in a mass murder-suicide. One of the individuals behind the tragedy was Maria Katsaris, who also died from committing suicide. She quit college and quickly moved up the ranks, working closely with Reverend Jim Jones, the leader and visionary behind Jonestown. If you want to know more information about Maria Katsaris and the massacre, read our Maria Katsaris wiki.

Who was  Maria Katsaris and what was her role in the 1978 Jonestown Massacre? How did she die? What was her relationship to Jim Jones? We answer all of these questions and more in our Maria Katsaris wiki.

Maria Katsaris’ Wiki

Maria Katsaris was born on June 9, 1953, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was raised in California. When Katsaris met Jones and become involved in the Peoples Temple, she quit college to start a new life.

Her death was on November 18, 1978, in Jonestown, Barima-Waini, Guyana. She committed suicide as part of the infamous Jonestown Massacre. Her body was buried in Mendocino County, California with the memorial ID number, 31962950.

Details on Jonestown

Jonestown is also referred to as the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project. The project was run as an intentional community, which means members had to believe in the vision of the establishment, the Peoples Temple, an American cult. The project’s direction was under the leadership of Reverend Jim Jones in Guyana.

Initially, it was run in California before moving to Guyana after word got out that the church abused its believers, both physically and financially.

Maria Katsaris became a big believer in the Peoples Temple; she made the move from California to Guyana. As she spent more time in the project, she moved up the ranks and was the temple’s treasurer. She also became one of Jones’ mistresses.

With the project’s bad reputation and other information going through newswires, California Congressman Leo Ryan went to visit the compound with a group of 18 people to expose the temple. He was accompanied by more government officials, media professionals, and Katsaris’ father and brother, Steve and  Anthony Katsaris. Anthony’s intentions were to convince his sister Maria to leave the compound.

With no success, the congressman, the Katsaris men, and the rest of the group left the compound for the airport.

At this point, Jim Jones allegedly ordered a gunman to kill the congressman and everyone in his party before they headed back to the United States. The congressman and four others died, but Anthony Katsaris survived, only sustaining some injuries.

When Jones heard that not everyone in the congressman’s group was killed, he ordered everyone in the compound to commit suicide by drinking Kool-Aid mixed with cyanide.

The total number of deaths in the incident was 909, including both Jim Jones and Maria Katsaris. Katsaris reportedly helped with the mass suicide efforts. She penned a note used as a last will and testament, before taking her own life.

Also Read:

Jim Jones Cult: What Was the Peoples Temple?

Carolyn Layton: Her Road to Jim Jones and the Jonestown Massacre

Maria Katsaris Didn’t Believe Jonestown Was a Cult

While at the compound, Katsaris wrote a letter to Steve Katsaris, her father. In it, she described her opinions about staying at Jonestown, the living conditions there, and the negative view portrayed by the media.

She began the letter asking about her father’s health before moving on to describe the beautiful surroundings of nature all around her. In the letter, she went on to say that she was in a “peaceful” place, which felt surreal.

She continued that she was learning a variety of things, such as carpentry, and loved working with her hands. Katsaris added that she has never been happier or healthier. Mid-way through the letter, she wrote that her father would really enjoy staying at the project because of the many outdoor work duties.

Towards the end of the letter, she tells her father of the impact she’d made in the local community by working alongside government officials. Before ending the letter, she left some suspense of what he can look forward to in the next letter. Her plan was to write more details of what she did on a daily basis.

Katsaris ended the letter saying that the media and political figures put a bad spotlight on Jones’ church. She referred to the media printing “a filthy bunch of lies” about the Peoples Temple. She called out her own mother for believing the negative press, telling her father to ask her if he has any questions, rather than reading public by news outlets.

Before Maria Katsaris Died

Before Maria’s death during the Jonestown Massacre in 1978, she did two things. The first was to order Mike Prokes, as well as Tim and Mike Carter, to flee the compound with the Temple’s money, sending it to the Soviet embassy in Guyana. This task was not completed because the three men were arrested.

The second action that Katsaris took was writing a handwritten note stating: “I Maria Katsaris leave all of the money in the Banco Union de Venezuela in Caracas to the Communist Party Soviet Union.” The note was witnessed by Jim Elvane and Marilee Bogue and dated November 18, 1978.


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