Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Cannibalism and the Strange Case of Nathaniel Bar-Jonah

Big Sky Country and Nathaniel Bar-Jonah

Map with Great Falls, Montana locator
Map with Great Falls, Montana locator

Montana, dubbed the "Big Sky Country," is normally associated with deep blue skies, clear-running streams and rivers, trout fishing and fresh crisp air. Dramatic personalities such as Chief Joseph, George Custer, and outlaws like Dutch Henry, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang and Kid Curry have colored Montana's history with the vibrant intensity of a painting by Montana adopted son C.M. Russell. It's a place where justice was swift and hangings were frequent throughout its settlement, evinced by the number of "boot hill" cemeteries scattered about the state. In land area, Montana ranks as the fourth largest state in the U.S., behind only California, Texas and Alaska; in terms of population Montana ranks 44th, with barely more than 902,000 residents, yielding the third lowest state population density in the nation. Except for the long, hard, and bitter-cold winters, Montana is a great place to live and raise a family, in part because its cities remain small and its population low. It is not, however, the sort of place that one would associate with a modern-day cannibal, unless one happened to live in Great Falls.

Entrance to Malmstrom Air Force Base
Entrance to Malmstrom Air Force Base

The county seat of Cascade County and the third largest city in Montana with a population of 56,700, Great Falls is located in the north-central portion of the state, about 120 miles south of the Canadian border and some 50 miles east of the Continental Divide. The city, settled around the "great falls" of the upper Missouri River, one of America's most magnificent, not to mention endangered, rivers, is surrounded by natural beauty and scenery that is broken only by the presence of Malmstrom Air Force Base and its 150 or so Minuteman nuclear missiles spread across the region. Meriwether Lewis declared the great falls of the Missouri River "the grandest sight I ever beheld," and gazed at the magnificent falls for hours from the rocks below and mulled how he and his party might find an easy way around them. Lewis and Clark spent the next month traversing around some 18 miles of waterfalls and rapids as they braved violent hailstorms and torrential downpours, all the while trying to keep the local grizzly bear population from robbing them of their food supplies. Nonetheless, they managed to survey the entire area; making way for the future settlement of the area.

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