Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Cannibalism and the Strange Case of Nathaniel Bar-Jonah

Three Years Later

Nathaniel Bar-Jonah
Nathaniel Bar-Jonah

Early on the morning of December 13, 1999, Detective Robert Burton was driving to work at the Great Falls Police Department when he saw Nathaniel Bar-Jonah walking near an elementary school. The nine-year veteran of the department recognized Bar-Jonah from his prior scrapes with the law in Great Falls, including the 1993 incident in which Bar-Jonah had been charged with sexual assault for allegedly fondling the eight-year-old boy that he had been babysitting, and he was now also fully aware of Bar-Jonah's priors in Massachusetts. Detective Burton was concerned because he had seen Bar-Jonah on two other occasions in the same area a week earlier. Burton contacted his dispatcher and requested that a patrol unit be sent to the area to make contact with Bar-Jonah to determine what he was doing in the area of the school.

Bar-Jonah was nearly detained at the Lincoln Elemntary School
Bar-Jonah was nearly detained at the Lincoln Elemntary

It was still dark outside when officers Brunk and Badgley, within minutes of being dispatched, arrived on location in the 400 block of 27th Street South in two separate patrol cars. When they located Bar-Jonah, Brunk turned on his patrol car's spotlight and shined it on the big man in the street. Bar-Jonah was dressed in a dark-blue jacket similar to that which a police officer might wear and a knit cap. As he stood illuminated in the darkness, he kept his hands inside his pockets. Brunk instructed Bar-Jonah to remove his hands from his pockets and to move in front of his patrol car. Bar-Jonah, however, ignored Brunk's request. Brunk made the request a second time, and Bar-Jonah continued to ignore him. With Officer Badgley standing by as back-up, Brunk asked Bar-Jonah if he had something in his pocket. Bar-Jonah hesitated, and then responded that he was carrying a stun gun.

Lincoln Elemntary School
Lincoln Elemntary School

Following proper police procedure to help ensure their own safety, the two officers instructed Bar-Jonah to place his hands on Brunk's patrol car. With Brunk keeping an eye on Bar-Jonah, Badgley conducted a pat-down search. In the search Badgley found two cans of pepper spray, a toy gun, and a badge on Bar-Jonah. Badgley, following a brief review of Montana statutes about impersonating a police officer, contacted his shift commander to report everything that had happened. The shift commander directed him to release Bar-Jonah pending further review of the statutes and the two officers' reports.

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