Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Cannibalism and the Strange Case of Nathaniel Bar-Jonah

Missing Child

Zachary Xerxes Ramsay
Zachary Xerxes Ramsay

Zach's mother, who worked at a restaurant in town, was of course alarmed by the call from Zach's school shortly after ten that morning. Working hard to raise two other children, ages five and two, while Zach's father, a U.S. Air Force staff sergeant, was away serving at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Zach's mother didn't know which way to turn or even to whom to turn to at first. Although highly concerned, she did her best to remain calm and not to panic.

"I wondered if he was skipping school," his mother said later. "I went home, he wasn't there, so I immediately went to the school... My concern was not to freak out — my concern was to get as much [information] at that moment as possible."

Doing the only thing that she could think of at the time, she searched the neighborhood for her son, calling out his name and retracing the steps he normally took to school. But there was no sign of him. Striking out at the school, and rather than delaying and losing any more precious time, she notified the police that her son had disappeared. A pair of officers was promptly sent to her home to take the initial report.

Zach, the worried mother tearfully told the officers, was not a shy boy. He liked talking to people, and it would not be unusual if he talked to strangers, but he had been taught never to get into a car with someone he didn't know, and he understood the dangers associated with doing so. Even though his mother had considered it, Zach wasn't known to skip school, making it highly unusual for him not to show up for class on time. Besides, she said, Zachary was looking forward to going to school that day. He was scheduled to receive an award for his artwork — he loved art. It was one of his favorite classes.

Previously there had been only one problem with him running away, and that had occurred in January, about a month earlier right after the New Year holiday. However, he was only gone for about an hour, and, knowing that his mother would be worried sick about him, he called her from a restaurant and asked her to come and get him. After all was said and done everyone, including the police, agreed that it was highly unusual that Zach would just disappear. Most missing children are located at a friend or relative's home, usually within an hour after their absence has been noticed. But this clearly wasn't the case with Zachary. No one to whom he was close had seen him. It was as if he had vanished into thin air.

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