Tampa woman recalls saving her kids from cult leader Jim Jones

Nov. 18 is always a dark day on Olga Booker's calendar.

It's a day of unthinkable tragedy. 

"Nov. 18, 1978, they all committed suicide with the Kool-Aid lacing," recalled Booker. 

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They, meaning the 900 followers of the People's Temple, led by the smooth-talking cult leader Jim Jones. Among the dead men, women and young children were Booker’s ex-husband and several members of his family.


Jones promised a paradise for his followers.

Jones had promised his followers paradise in the jungles of Guyana. At that time, Booker and her ex-husband were already divorced, and their two kids were living with their father in California under Jones' spell.

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They would've been among the cultists to fly from San Francisco to South America until Booker stepped in, coming face to face with Jim Jones. 


Booker said her ex-husband's family was brainwashed by Jim Jones.

"He says, 'Olga, don’t take the kids. This is a promised land, they need to be here with us,'" Booker said. "I said, ‘No I’m sorry I’m going back to Tampa and taking my kids with me.’" 


Olga Booker recalls saving her kids from the cult.

Little did she know at the time she would be saving them from the cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. Her ex, Timothy Maurice Sweeney, his family and many others continued on believing they were following a prophet.

"People were brainwashed, they all were brainwashed thinking he's a god," Booker said.

It's been 45 years since the massacre at Jonestown. For Booker, it's a cautionary tale with lessons that still apply all these years later.

"You have your own mind and to know that there's only one God, there’s no more than one," she said.