Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Cannibalism and the Strange Case of Nathaniel Bar-Jonah

A Chaotic Investigation

Because parents throughout Great Falls were now suddenly aware of the potential dangers facing their children on a day-to-day basis and were naturally more fearful than usual, they inundated the police department with tips, sightings, theories, and occasionally clues as to what may have happened to Zach. Taking the calls wasn't, of course, nearly as work-intensive as the follow-up investigations that the calls created. It was the follow-up of all the false leads or tips that made the investigation chaotic. Typically, if a disappearance is not cleared up within the first 48 hours or so, not only does the trail leading to the victim's whereabouts or to a suspect become cold but rumors begin pouring in, most of them from well-meaning citizens. Most of those rumors, unfortunately, which numbered in the thousands in the Zachary Ramsay case, do not lead anywhere and often only serve to frustrate the investigators assigned to the case.

Bellusci worked the case full-time for the first 30 days or so, and carried Zach's photo with him wherever he went, showing it to people he questioned to determine if anyone besides the initial witnesses recalled seeing the boy. He also showed photos of Bar-Jonah to many of those people he questioned in an attempt to determine if anyone had seen the suspect with Zach. At one point he approached Cascade County Prosecuting Attorney Brant Light about obtaining a warrant to search the duplex home that Bar-Jonah shared with his mother located on the 1200 block of First Avenue South. However, after considering the detective's request, it was decided that there wasn't yet sufficient cause or evidence tying the case to Bar-Jonah to bring the matter before a judge. There were several other sex offenders living in Zach's neighborhood at the time that served to make it difficult to focus solely on Bar-Jonah as the primary suspect.

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