Nathaniel Benjamin Levi Bar-Jonah (February 15, 1957 – April 13, 2008), born David Paul Brown, was a convicted child molester, possible serial killer and cannibal who was serving a 130-year prison sentence without the possibility of parole in Montana after being convicted of kidnapping, aggravated assault, and sexual assault of various children. He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts.
In late July 1964, seven-year-old Bar-Jonah lured a five-year-old neighbor into his basement, telling her that he got a Ouija board for his birthday that could predict the future. Once in his basement, Bar-Jonah attempted to strangle the girl, but her screams attracted the attention of his mother, who came to her rescue. In January 1970, Bar-Jonah managed to lure another neighbor, a six-year-old boy, to a nearby hill, claiming he wanted to go “sledding” with him. Once they arrived, however, Bar-Jonah sexually assaulted the boy. A few years later, Bar-Jonah attempted to lure two boys riding their bicycles down his street to a nearby cemetery, where he intended to murder them, but one of the boys grew suspicious and persuaded his friend not to go.
In late March 1975, Bar-Jonah, impersonating a police officer, abducted eight-year-old Richard O’Conner while he was on his way to school, then proceeded to sexually assault and strangle him. A neighbor, looking out of her window, observed the abduction and notified authorities, who began searching for the boy. A patrol car later observed a car matching that used in the abduction parked far away from others in a parking lot, and after calling for backup, ordered Bar-Jonah out of the car. O’Conner was found in the car bloodied, having defecated and urinated on himself from the sexual assault, and near the point of death.
A few days before his high school graduation, Bar-Jonah drove to nearby Hartford, Connecticut, and, impersonating a police officer, abducted a nine-year-old girl, whom he savagely assaulted in the car. After the child began vomiting and convulsing from the assault, he drove up to a sidewalk and threw the girl out of the car. A nearby witness saw the incident and got his license plate, leading to his arrest. This assault never got back to Bar Jonah’s probation officer, and he was released from parole in May 1976 for his earlier abduction and sexual assault of an eight-year-old boy. When Bar-Jonah’s probationary period was over, he received a letter thanking him for his “cooperation.”
On September 24, 1977, Bar Jonah, claiming to be an undercover FBI agent, convinced two boys coming out of White City Cinemas in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts to enter his vehicle. Bar Jonah then transported the boys to a secluded area, where he handcuffed then proceeded to strangle and flick cigarette ashes upon them. After jumping repeatedly on the chest of one of the boys, the 375-lb Bar Jonah believed he had killed him, then drove off with the other still alive in his trunk. However, the boy regained consciousness and managed to find help, leading shortly thereafter to Bar Jonah’s arrest; the other boy was found, still alive, in his trunk. For this crime, he was convicted of attempted murder and received the maximum sentence of 18 to 20 years in prison.
While in prison he was transferred to the Bridgewater State Hospital. On March 22, 1984, he changed his name to Nathaniel Benjamin Levi Bar-Jonah. He gave several reasons for changing his name. Bar-Jonah told friends and relatives that he changed his name because he wanted to know what it was like to be discriminated against and persecuted as a Jew. During a later interview with Dr. Michael Stone for the television show Most Evil, he claimed he was Jewish and wanted his name to reflect that. Later in the same year, Superior Court Judge Walter E. Steele ruled that Massachusetts had failed to prove that Bar-Jonah was dangerous and he was released before moving to Great Falls, Montana. During this time, Bar-Jonah confided in his psychiatrists that he had a deep fascination and curiosity with the taste of human flesh, and had innumerable murderous fantasies.
On August 9, 1991, just a month after being released from Bridgewater State Hospital, Bar-Jonah observed a seven-year-old boy sitting alone in a car outside of a post office in Oxford, Massachusetts. Bar-Jonah, who weighed 275 lbs at the time of the incident, entered the vehicle and sat on the boy, thrusting his mass atop the boy’s fragile chest. Some witnesses, along with the boy’s mother, observed the event and ran to the boy’s rescue, causing Bar-Jonah to flee. An officer recognized Bar-Jonah’s description from over 15 years earlier, and he was later arrested for the attack. At first, Bar-Jonah claimed that he entered the car to get out of the rain, but later admitted that he intended to kill the boy. For the attack, Bar-Jonah was sentenced to probation in Montana.
Disappearance of Zach Ramsay
On February 6, 1996, 10-year old Zach Ramsay departed from his apartment to school at about 7:34 a.m., taking his usual school route through an alleyway near the 400 block of 4th Street N. He was wearing a blue denim jacket with green sleeves, a blue football jersey with his last name imprinted on the back in gold letters, stonewashed jeans, and black high-top sneakers.
Another witness reported seeing Zach standing in the alleyway and that he appeared to be “waiting for someone.” Yet another witness, who lived near the end of the alleyway, reported seeing Zach distressed with an obese adult male following him a few feet behind at about 7:45 a.m. Somewhere between where the alleyway cuts into 6th Avenue and comes out at 7th, Zach Ramsay disappeared; he has never been seen or heard from since.
A witness reported seeing Nathaniel Bar-Jonah standing beside a dumpster in the alleyway at 7:15 a.m. while taking out the trash; he was wearing a navy-blue “police-like” jacket. The same witness also reported seeing Zach Ramsay enter the alleyway later and that Bar-Jonah was still standing beside the dumpster.
Police investigations conducted years after Zach Ramsay went missing determined that Bar-Jonah had access to his mother’s off-white, four-door 1978 Toyota Corolla the day Zach Ramsay disappeared, and that his mother and brother were out of town for a funeral. It was moreover determined that Bar-Jonah did not work on February 6th of 1996, nor on the days immediately preceding.
While searching Bar-Jonah’s apartment, detectives found a list of boys’ names which included previous victims and a “Zackery Ramsey,” followed by the word “DIED.” Furthermore, dozens of newspaper clippings were found in Bar-Jonah’s apartment following the Zach Ramsay case.
A former roommate of Bar-Jonah described finding clothes in his apartment which appeared to match those Zach Ramsay was wearing the day he disappeared, in addition to bloody gloves. Another roommate and others claimed that Bar-Jonah sometimes spontaneously brought up the boy in conversations.
Investigators also found notebooks with seemingly arbitrary characters which were believed to be coded writing. With the help of the FBI, and after months of effort, the writing was decoded; in the notebooks, Bar-Jonah described torturing and eating children; there were also macabre recipes involving children’s body parts.
Despite the objections of the boy’s mother, a judge declared Zach Ramsay legally dead in 2011.
When detectives sprayed Bar-Jonah’s garage with a phosphorus chemical while investigating his involvement in the disappearance of Zach Ramsay, the word “Tita” appeared, which led authorities to believe that Bar-Jonah may have been responsible for the abduction of James Teta, a Massachusetts boy who was kidnapped on August 23, 1973. Teta’s body was discovered on August 25, 1973 in Rindge, New Hampshire off of Route 119; an autopsy revealed that he had been raped and strangled.
Arrest, trial and imprisonment
Bar-Jonah was arrested in 1999, again and initially for impersonating a police officer. After searching his home and finding, among other things, many pictures of young children cut out of magazines and a bone that was identified as belonging to an unknown young male, Montana police charged Bar-Jonah with kidnapping and sexual assault, as well as the kidnapping and sexual assault of three other boys.
Bar-Jonah was prosecuted for the abduction and molestation of the other three boys and convicted of kidnapping, aggravated assault, and sexual assault, including charges that he had tortured one of the boys and hung him from the ceiling. During Bar-Jonah’s trial, 36-year-old Mary Patrone recognized him as the man who abducted and assaulted her by dressing as a police officer 26 years earlier, in 1974. However, the statute of limitations had expired, and Bar-Jonah could not be charged with the crime. Investigators also suspected Bar Jonah in the disappearance of seven-year-old Janice Pockett 10 months earlier. Bar-Jonah was sentenced to 130 years in prison. He maintained his innocence up until his death. Montana authorities were unaware of Bar-Jonah’s past trouble in Massachusetts, a fact that was cited by activists campaigning to force former sex offenders to register. In December 2004, the Montana Supreme Court turned down Bar-Jonah’s appeals and upheld the conviction and 130-year prison sentence.
Nathaniel Bar-Jonah was found unresponsive in his prison cell on the morning of April 13, 2008. He had been in poor health. His post mortem found significant levels of LDL in his arteries and myocardial infarction was the determined cause of death.
Allegations of cannibalism
Bar-Jonah’s earliest interest in the taste of human flesh can be traced to his childhood. Beginning at about the age of six, he would pick at his scabs until his skin was festering, then proceed to suck on the blood from the wound. His teachers at Webster Elementary School would call his mother numerous times to notify her that her son’s habit was upsetting to the teachers and students. When he was incarcerated in Montana State Prison, many of the guards observed him perform the same habit. One guard reported that once Bar-Jonah had the scab in his mouth that he “appeared to be having sex.”
While incarcerated at Bridgewater State Hospital, Bar-Jonah confided in his psychiatrists about his murderous and cannibalistic ideations. One of his therapists noted, “Brown’s sexual fantasies, bizarre in nature, outline methods of torture [and] extend… to dissection and cannibalism” and again “express a curiosity about the taste of human flesh.”
Although Bar-Jonah was known to be a voracious eater who weighed in excess of 300 lbs, financial records indicated that he had not made any significant grocery store purchases for nearly a month after Zach Ramsay disappeared. However, he could have also paid for any groceries using cash or have been well-stocked on food and meat.
After Zach Ramsay’s disappearance, Bar-Jonah also began to hold cookouts in which he was reported to serve burgers, spaghetti, chili, meat pies, casseroles, and the like to guests. At many of these cookouts, a number of persons told Bar Jonah that the meat had a peculiar taste to it; Bar Jonah’s response was that he had gone deer hunting and used the deer meat in the dishes. However, Bar Jonah did not own a rifle or a hunting license, nor had he been deer hunting at any time.
To one woman, who told Bar-Jonah that she found the taste of his meat to be repulsive, he replied that he had personally “hunted, killed, butchered and wrapped the meat” of the deer. He would later be accused of molesting this woman’s son.
In Bar-Jonah’s apartment, detectives also found a number of recipes using children’s body parts with contemptuous titles such as “little boy pot pie,” “french fried kid,” and phrases such as “lunch is served on the patio with roasted child.” In the decoded journals, Bar Jonah also referenced serving these recipes to neighbors. Also, hair was found inside a meat grinder in his apartment; when the hair was tested for DNA, it was found to belong to an African-American male, but did not belong to Zach Ramsay. The DNA of the hair was also different from the child bone fragments found in Bar Jonah’s garage, which also did not belong to Ramsay.
Other possible victims
On the morning of October 13, 1997, fourteen year old, 100 lb, 5’2″ Amanda Gallion left her home on bicycle en route to school at approximately 7:15 AM, disappearing along the way. Gallion was often mistook for a boy in her Gillette, Wyoming neighborhood. Bar Jonah arrived in Gillette on the night of October 12, 1997, where he stayed at a small motel on the outskirts of town, and was back in his Montana residence by the following night. Gallion’s bicycle was subsequently discovered along the side of the road off I-90. Gallion’s social security number has not been used since her disappearance.
Most Evil – Season 1, Episode 1 – Killer Lies