Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Cannibalism and the Strange Case of Nathaniel Bar-Jonah

Search Warrant

Bar-Jonah's mother's house
Bar-Jonah's mother's house

The next day Detective Bellusci, in part because he had been the investigating officer on the 1993 sexual assault case against Bar-Jonah in which the charges had been dropped, received the assignment to follow-up on Brunk and Badgley's early morning encounter with Bar-Jonah. Following consultation with the district attorney's office, it was decided that Bar-Jonah should be charged with impersonation of a police officer and carrying a concealed weapon — the toy gun.

On December 15, 1999, Bellusci prepared an affidavit for a search warrant to search Bar-Jonah's place of residence based on probable cause relating to the aforementioned charges. By this time Bar-Jonah had moved out of his mother's house and into a shabby apartment building in a different area of town. Among the items Bellusci listed in his affidavit that he believed he would find at Bar-Jonah's residence was a stun gun, police badges — real or replicas, police clothing, devices typically used to restrain someone such as handcuffs, guns, and anything else that could be used as evidence or construed as contraband. A judge promptly approved Bellusci's search warrant, and it was executed that same day.

Bar-Jonah's apartment
Bar-Jonah's apartment

During the course of the search, police officers seized a blue police coat, a silver toy revolver, a badge, a stun gun, a baseball-style hat that had "Security Enforcement" as its logo across the front, two disposable cameras, two albums with cutouts of children inside, a coat with a badge inside one of the pockets, and numerous other photographs and negatives. Interestingly, the cops also found a pulley on which a rope, cord, or chain could be connected. The pulley was attached to the ceiling in Bar-Jonah's kitchen. Its significance to the case wasn't immediately known, but it was photographed and noted just the same. The cops also found a document that described in detail how to tie a variety of knots, and an article entitled "Autoerotic Asphyxia." The possible implications of such items were, of course, horrific, particularly if children were involved. At the conclusion of the search, Bar-Jonah was arrested and charged with impersonation of a public servant and carrying a concealed weapon.

Two days later Bellusci applied for and was granted a second search warrant to search for additional photographs of young children, adults, or both, any undeveloped film, and any other items of evidence related to the offenses for which Bar-Jonah had been charged. Among the items found during the second search was a bulletin board containing numerous pictures, undeveloped film on disposable cameras, 28 boxes containing miscellaneous papers and newspaper clippings, and a list of names of Bar-Jonah's previous victims. The list also contained the name, "Zachary Ramsey" [sic].

"There are lists of children that you can just turn page after page after page," said Brant Light, Cascade County District Attorney. "He had notebooks where there's pictures of children cut out of annual school books and newspapers with their names underneath — just like collecting baseball cards."

Among the names on the lists were several boys from Webster, Massachusetts, three of whom Bar-Jonah was convicted of abducting in the mid-1970s. Police believed that as many as half of 54 names on one list were those of children that Bar-Jonah had grown up with.

When all was said and done, there were at least 3,500 photographs of children found inside Bar-Jonah's apartment. When Bellusci had the film developed and prints made, he found Bar-Jonah and three boys in various states of undress.

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