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Woman who survived Jonestown massacre to speak in Arkansas

By Polly Irungu

This article was published March 8, 2018 at 2:29 p.m.

Laura Johnston Kohl



A woman who survived the 1978 Jonestown massacre, in which hundreds died after drinking a cyanide-laced grape punch, will speak at Arkansas Tech University next month.

Laura Johnston Kohl, 71, now a middle school teacher in California, will speak at 6 p.m. April 5 in the campus's Ross Pendergraft Library and Technology Center, located at 305 W. Q St. in Russellville.

The lecture, titled “Don’t Drink the Kool Aid: Advice from a Jonestown Survivor,” is free and open to the public.

Kohl’s biography, titled Jonestown Survivor: An Insider’s Look, was released in 2010. She will sign copies of her work after her talk, the release states.

Peoples Temple leader Jim Jones orchestrated a ritual of mass murder and suicide at the group's Guyana commune Nov. 18, 1978, ordering followers to drink cyanide-laced grape punch.

Most complied, although some of the 87 survivors described some people being shot, injected with poison or forced to drink the deadly beverage when they tried to resist.

“It took me 20 years to accept my survival and rebuild my life,” Kohl said in the release.

Her speaking engagements reportedly focus on topics like surviving tragedy, survivors’ guilt and the red flags associated with cult dynamics.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Comments on: Woman who survived Jonestown massacre to speak in Arkansas

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Displaying 1 - 2 of 2 total comments

TravisBickle says... March 8, 2018 at 5:18 p.m.

She didn't just survive she escaped. A big red flag should have been the suicide drills they had ahead of time. And people always get the Kool-aid part wrong. It was Flavor Aid of the grape variety that was used in the massacre.

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mkdm0 says... March 9, 2018 at 2:19 p.m.

Yup, democrats drink the party's kool aid with the same result just a slower death killing the country

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