It was easily the most uncomfortable elevator ride of my life.
It was just after Assistant District Attorney Tim Stoen had announced his intention to leave the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office for his old stomping ground of Mendocino. He was leaving the position, and the building, possibly for good -- he had a box of desk trinkets under his arm and a relieved look on his face.
He had received some rough treatment in the local press, for making waves with high-profile cases that over time didn't seem to hold water.
But more than that, Stoen was incensed that every time I mentioned him in a news story, I felt it relevant to mention that he was a former high-ranking lieutenant for Jim Jones, the reverend and cult leader now on heavy rotation on MSNBC. Why? We are nearing the 30th anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre, where, on Nov. 18, 1978, roughly 900 people died in a mass suicide.
One of the primary reasons for Jones' power and success was the undying loyalty, and sometimes brilliant complicity, of his henchmen. Near the top of the list of loyal Jones compatriots was Stoen, who had often successfully put his legal mind to work for the Peoples Temple.... Read the rest.
The thing about Stoen, in my observation, is that he hasn't changed. He proved that with his actions in Humboldt County, where he appeared to have found his new Jim Jones, and a new cause.