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Dateline looks at the Jonestown massacre, the largest mass murder-suicide in modern history

Jim Jones claimed to be Jesus Christ reincarnated. He said he could heal the sick, make the blind see and the lame walk again.

"Good evening. In one of the strangest cases of mass suicide and murder ever recorded, the government of Guyana said today..." NBC News anchor John Chancellor read nearly 40 years ago.

That was the beginning of a television news report following the tragedy in Jonestown.

On Friday, Dateline is taking a look back at the journalists who traveled to Guyana with U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan.

A day later, three of those men and a Representative from California were killed by members of an American cult led by Jim Jones.

You may recall Jones was born in Indiana. He founded the "People's Temple" in Indianapolis and in 1955, he moved his followers to California.

He preached a message of racial harmony and communal living in San Francisco.

Jones claimed to be Jesus Christ reincarnated. He said he could heal the sick, make the blind see and the lame walk again.

"Jones had established a reputation as a faith healer, as someone who could remove cancers from people's bodies. And much of this was, of course, fakery, but it did bring people through the door."

Jones was controversial.

Because of scrutiny from the press and government he moved the People's Temple to South America.

After some of his members murdered that California congressman there in 1978, Jones ordered his followers to drink poisoned punch.

There were a lot of Hoosiers in that group, including an Indiana man our Rich Van Wyk talked to 30 years ago.

He survived the the mass suicide but his mother and 11-year-old brother died.

Dateline: An American Tragedy airs Friday at 10:00 p.m. on 13 WTHR.