James Warren Jones (May 13, 1931 – November 18, 1978) was an American charismatic religious cult leader who conspired with his inner circle to direct a mass suicide and mass murder of his followers in the remote jungle of Jonestown, Guyana. He was the founder and leader of the Peoples Temple, which he started in his home state of Indiana during the 1950s. He was officially ordained in 1956 by the Independent Assemblies of God and in 1964 by the Disciples of Christ. He moved his congregation to California in 1965 and gained notoriety with its activities in San Francisco in the early to late 1970s. He then left the United States when he relocated the group to Guyana, a country on the northern mainland of South America.
In 1978, media reports surfaced that human rights abuses were taking place in the Peoples Temple in Jonestown. U.S. Representative Leo Ryan led a delegation to the commune to investigate what was going on, but he and others were murdered by gunfire while boarding a return flight with some former cult members who had wished to leave. Jones then ordered a mass murder–suicide of 918 of his followers, 304 of whom were children, almost all by cyanide-poisoned Flavor Aid.