Tim Carter: Where is the Jonestown Survivor Now?

While it’s true that James “Jim” Jones had initially established Peoples Temple with the idea of it being a fully integrated safe religious haven, it actually ended up evolving into a massive cult. But alas, as explored in Hulu’s ‘Cult Massacre: One Day in Jonestown,’ no one could have ever imagined its journey would conclude with two mass casualty events that’d leave 918 people dead. It thus comes as no surprise those to have made it out of this titular city the former had ordered built in Guyana have unwavering survivor’s guilt, but they’re also proof of hope — like Tim Carter.

Tim Carter Was a Believer Until He Lost His Wife and Son

It was reportedly around the 1970s that Tim first learned about this aforementioned sect through the woman he was falling for since her brother had been adopted by its leader at an early age. Therefore, when he eventually blissfully tied the knot with Gloria Rodriguez, he became involved in the community too and soon moved into the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project (Jonestown). Little did he know not only would he and his wife welcome a beautiful son named Malcolm in this remote settlement, but he’d also lose almost everyone dear to him there on November 18, 1978.

Tim still remembers the fateful day a Congressman had arrived from the US alongside a handful of journalists as well as relatives of Temple members to investigate allegations of human rights abuse. There were reports claiming many of Jim’s followers were being held against their will, with their passports under his possession so as to ensure they didn’t flee — this was later confirmed to be true. However, during the two days the government official was there, only around 14 or 15 individuals came forward as defectors, which was not nearly enough for any legal action to be taken.

So, on November 18, following a rain storm plus an attempted attack on the congressman’s life, they all left for the Port Kaituma airstrip to return home, just for Jim to send gunmen after them. The leader was sure this would be the end of his life’s work, so he’d ordered his guards to open fire and kill as many people as possible before also telling his followers in town to commit mass suicide. He instructed them to drink cyanide in a powdered soft drink or had them be injected with the poison using syringes, a method he’d already carefully thought of to tackle the lives of the young.

Tim actually remembers every bit of this because he witnessed a pediatric nurse force a syringe into Malcolm’s mouth until his lips were foaming while he was in his wife Gloria’s arms. He then saw his love dying upon having made to consume the mixture — “I put my arms around Gloria as she was holding Malcolm and just kept on sobbing, ‘I love you so much. I love you so much,'” he once said. “She started convulsing… And then I ran… ran as fast as I could.” He’d escaped drinking the poison by having been tasked, alongside his brother Michael Carter and friend Mike Prokes, to deliver all of the cult’s cash to the Soviet Union’s Embassy in Georgetown.

After all, Tim was one of Jim Jones’ most trusted followers since he truly believed in their message and philosophy: he believed they could have built something equivalent to a utopia. “It [the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project (Jonestown)] was a place where sexism, ageism racism — all of those different forms of elitism had been eliminated,” he said in the docuseries. “I had some pride in what we had built. It was beautiful,” until it wasn’t. For him, the attack on the congressman was a turning point, but it was already too late.

Tim Carter’s Early Years Back in the Real World Weren’t Easy

According to reports, having discarded the cash bags, Tim was located in the woods the day after the incident, just to soon be asked to return to Jonestown to help identify bodies before they decayed. This was purportedly even harder for the fateful survivor because there were 913 dead bodies strewn across the place he once called home, amongst the chaos of which his late wife was still holding their dead 15-month-old son in her arms. Though what followed was arguably just as bad since he started being considered an accomplice to the cult’s alleged actions violating basic human rights as well as the mass casualty events ordered by Jim Jones.

In fact, this was to such an extent Tim even faced a grand jury investigation upon returning to the US, that is, until everything finally legally settled down 53 days following the atrocious day. However, this apparently made him fair game for public scrutiny, which, when combined with his already debilitating grief, even led him to seriously contemplate suicide not once but twice. He did survive the tortures of a cult, yet he was barely surviving the real world, ultimately driving him to relocate to Boise, Idaho, to be near his father for some sense of pace plus stability.

That’s where Tim began re-establishing his life by finding a job through a temp agency — he started as an accountant for a travel company, only to soon be promoted to a full-fledged agent. He did face his fair share of prejudices here too, yet he admits that most of his acquaintances/co-workers were cordial even when they knew his history, as it was his present that mattered. This purportedly enabled him to shine through in this lucrative industry, as a result of which he served in it for the majority of his professional career — though it seems like he’s now retired.

Tim Carter is a Family Man

Although Tim did lose his love as well as his firstborn in the most unimaginably brutal circumstance, he thankfully didn’t give up on moving on and finding someone new after a few years had gone by. In fact, per records, he has been involved in at least two long-term relationships since the 1980s and is now a proud father of three adult children plus a grandfather to a young little boy named Malcolm. “It was a full circle moment,” he said in the production while holding back tears. “It was just really beautiful… One Malcolm got taken from me, and another Malcolm got returned to me.”

Coming to Tim’s precise current standing, while it’s unclear precisely where this Mountain region native is based at the moment, we do know loved ones surround him every step of the way. It’s also imperative to note this retired professional now apparently primarily lives off of the disability payments he receives for having developed post-traumatic stress disorder from his time as an army man in Vietnam. Yet this is not to say he isn’t still haunted by his past at Jonestown — according to his own account, he deals with survivor’s guilt almost daily by focusing on moving forward with his new family while keeping those he lost alive in his heart.

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