|“||Lunch is served on the patio with roasted child.||”|
— Bar-Jonah's cookbook
Bar-Jonah was born as David Paul Brown in the city of Worcester, Massachusetts, on February 15, 1957. Starting at the age of six, he would pick at his scabs until his skin festered, then proceed to suck on the blood from the wound. His mother was called multiple times from the school to tell her that this habit was upsetting both the children and teachers. One year later, in late July 1964, Bar-Jonah invited a five-year-old neighbor girl to his basement, claiming that he had an Ouija board that could predict the future. Once inside, he attempted to strangle her until her screams alerted Bar-Jonah's mother, and she rescued her, but Bar-Jonah apparently got off with little to no punishment. At the age of thirteen, he lured another six-year-old boy from the neighborhood to a hill outside, claiming that he wanted to go sledding with him. Once they got to the secluded hill, Bar-Jonah raped him.
During his senior year of high school, Bar-Jonah impersonated as a police officer for the first time and abducted eight-year-old Richard O'Conner while he was on his way to school, raping and strangling him inside his car. A neighbor observed the abduction and assault from a window and called police. Officers rescued O'Conner when he was unconscious and almost dead. Bar-Jonah was arrested and sentenced to an unknown number of months of probation. Just a few days before his graduation, as well as the conclusion of his sentence, Bar-Jonah drove to Hartford, Connecticut, and impersonated as a police officer again. This time, he abducted a nine-year-old girl and proceeded to rape her in his car, but he threw her out soon afterward when she started to convulse and vomit. A witness got the license plate of his car and Bar-Jonah was arrested for the new incident. However, the report on this arrest never got back to Brown's probation officer, and he was released from probation in May 1976 with a letter thanking him for his cooperation.
On September 24, 1977, Bar-Jonah impersonated as an FBI agent and abducted two boys coming out of a movie theater. He drove them to a secluded area, where they were handcuffed. Bar-Jonah, who weighted 375 pounds at the time, left one of the boys in the car's trunk while he took the other away and simultaneously tried to strangle and suffocate him with his weight until he thought he had killed him. The boy actually pretended to be dead, and was able to maintain the act even when Bar-Jonah started blowing cigarette ashes on his face. When Bar-Jonah left, the boy ran away and reported him to the police. Brown was arrested again and the other boy was rescued. This time, Bar-Jonah was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to between eighteen and 22 years in prison. However, he was transferred to Bridgewater State Hospital, where he told psychiatrists repeatedly about having sexual fantasies involving murder, torture, dissection, and cannibalism. While he was still interned, on March 22, 1984, he changed his legal name to his present one, alternatively claiming that he wanted to honor his Jewish heritage or that he wanted to know what it was like being a discriminated Jew. Bar-Jonah was released from the hospital in July 1991.
A month later, he saw a seven-year-old boy sitting inside a car outside a post office in Oxford, Massachusetts. Bar-Jonah entered the vehicle and sat over the boy, but fled after other civilians saw him. Bar-Jonah's description was recognized by one of the police officers who had arrested him fifteen years before, and he was arrested again. Bar-Jonah claimed that he entered the car to get out of the rain, and that he intended to wait for the driver to return and ask him to take him home. As for the boy, he said that he did not know he was there, so any possible injury was accidental. However, he later admitted that his intent to kill the boy. For this, Bar-Jonah was given two years of probation, under the condition that he move with his mother to Great Falls, Montana, and never return to Massachusetts ever again. In Great Falls, Bar-Jonah started collecting toys and memorabilia, mostly Star Wars-related, and organizing yard sales that drew massive crowds of children. His first brush with the law in Montana was in December 1993, when he was accused of molestation by an eight-year-old boy who he was babysitting. Bar-Jonah defended himself by stating that if he had done that in reality, he would have killed the boy. The case was dropped after his lawyer claimed his right to a speedy trial had been violated.
Montana Crimes, Arrest, and Death
On February 10, 1996, ten-year-old Zach Ramsay disappeared on his way to school. Witnesses saw an off-white vehicle almost running Ramsay over, and later recounted that he was crying and appeared to be followed by an obese man around the time he disappeared. Detective Bill Bellusci, who investigated the December 1993 case, was assigned to investigate Ramsay's disappearance. Though he was provided with a list of registered sex offenders living in the area by the FBI, Bellusci discarded it and centered his suspicion on Bar-Jonah, who wasn't registered. After an unsuccessful police attempt to enter the home shared by Bar-Jonah and his mother, Bellusci solicited a search warrant of the property, but he was turned down. He later found that Bar-Jonah had access to his mother's off-white Toyota Corolla, that he had the day off, and that he was seen standing in an alley just before Ramsay entered it. Bar-Jonah was also wearing a dark-blue jacket that day, similar to that of a police officer's, was in constant close proximity of Ramsay, and had mentioned Ramsay's name to an acquaintance a few days before he disappeared. Bellusci unsuccessfully solicited a new search warrant. Sometime later, Bar-Jonah moved out of his mother's house.
On December 13, 1999, Bar-Jonah was seen outside an elementary school for the third time in a few days. He was wearing a dark-blue jacket and a knit cap, and was carrying two cans of pepper spray, and a toy gun and badge. Despite the doubts of their colleagues, Bellusci and the attorney general charged Bar-Jonah with impersonating as an officer and carrying a concealed weapon. A judge approved a search warrant for impersonation objects in both Bar-Jonah's mother's house and his new address. Police found two coats, one dark-blue and another with a toy badge in the pocket; a second toy badge; a stun gun; and a baseball cap reading "Security Enforcement". During the search, they also found a pulley on the ceiling of Bar-Jonah's kitchen, two albums with cutouts of children, and two documents about bondage and auto-erotic asphyxia.
Two days later, Bellusci was granted a second search warrant for any documents and photographic material. Besides the albums, they also found several lists of boy names, later identified as boys from Bar-Jonah's youth in Massachusetts, including three that he molested. One also had an entry for "Zackery Ramsey" next to the word "DIED". 3,500 photographs of children, multiple news clippings about Ramsay's disappearance, and undeveloped film containing sexual images of Bar-Jonah and three unidentified boys were also recovered. In addition, police discovered a book written in code, which was cracked and revealed to be a cookbook with recipes such as "little boy pot pie", "french fried kid", and "little boy stew". Finally, police found a large, stained section of plywood in Bar-Jonah's garage, which was scrubbed with bleach and also struck several times with a meat cleaver, as if it had been used as a cutting board. A luminol test in the same room revealed that the word "Tita" had once been written on the floor. This was tentatively linked to James Teta, a fifteen-year-old boy who was found raped and strangled in Rindge, New Hampshire in 1973.
Further inquiries seemed to confirm the officers' fears that Bar-Jonah had killed and cooked Ramsay and possibly other children. It was learned that, in the days after Ramsay's disappearance, Bar-Jonah held cookouts for his neighbors, in which he served "deer burgers" that tasted strange, once saying that he had "hunted, killed, butchered and wrapped the meat" personally. However, Bar-Jonah did not own a gun or a hunting license, and credit card records suggested that he stopped buying food for a month after Ramsay disappeared. A former roommate of Bar-Jonah had seen a pair of bloody gloves and soiled boy's clothing matching Ramsay's at Bar-Jonah's apartment. Bar-Jonah had also surprised people several times by bringing up Ramsay, including one time when he said that Ramsay would never be found because he had been chopped up, and the parts scattered in different places. Finally, hair that resembled a human's was found inside Bar-Jonah's meat-grinder, and an excavation at a former residence uncovered 21 bone fragments belonging to a boy between eight and thirteen years old. The house's pipes could not be examined because the neighbors who moved in afterward had changed them due to constantly being clogged.
DNA from the hair and bones belonged to two different African-American males, neither of whom was Ramsay. Ramsay's mother later refused to believe that her son was dead or that Bar-Jonah was in any way related to his disappearance; a psychic convinced her that Ramsay was living in Italy. She threatened to defend Bar-Jonah if he was brought to trial for her son's murder. Eventually, the charges related to Ramsay's disappearance were dropped, and the police focused on other possible victims. Two names in a list belonged to two boys who lived in the same apartment building as Bar-Jonah, and who were in his photographic film. One of the boys confirmed that Bar-Jonah invited them to a sleepover and then molested them, but the other boy visited Bar-Jonah in jail and wrote to him, saying that he was his friend and that he never harmed him. Nevertheless, he was charged with sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping, and assault with a deadly weapon (in relation to practicing erotic asphyxia with one of the boys in the kitchen's pulley). He was convicted and sentenced in 2002 to 130 years in prison without possibility of parole. On April 13, 2008, Bar-Jonah was found dead in his cell from a heart attack related to his obesity. Three years later, Ramsay's father had him declared legally dead over the opposition of his mother.
Bar-Jonah targeted children between five and fifteen years old. In most of his confirmed crimes, he drove a white car; dressed in navy-blue coats, jackets, and caps; and carried toy guns and badges so he could impersonate a police officer. After getting the victims in his car, he would drive over to a secluded place, restrain them, and sometimes rape them. Afterwards, he would try to kill them by strangulation, or otherwise suffocate them using his own weight.
On Criminal Minds
While Bar-Jonah has yet to be directly mentioned or referenced on the show, he appears to have been an inspiration for Floyd Feylinn Ferell in Seasons Three and Thirteen, as well as his copycat Marcus Manning ("Lucky Strikes"). The numerous similarities include:
- A fascination with cannibalism since they were children, culminating when they attacked a younger girl when they were seven years old.
- Being committed to a mental hospital and having their previous record covered in some way (as an offending minor's expunged record in Floyd's case; by changing state and not being obliged to register as a sexual offender, in Bar-Jonah's).
- Prone to gain weight.
- Worked as cooks in restaurants.
- Went to church despite claiming to be of a different religion (Satanism in Floyd's case, Judaism in Bar-Jonah's).
- Owned cooking equipment that had been apparently used to cook human flesh.
- Wrote their own cookbooks with cannibalistic recipes. The page from Floyd's cookbook seen in the episode is even composed in a similar style to Bar-Jonah's prison recipes, with childish-looking, hand-drawn images of smiling faces and pasted cutouts of photos accompanying the text (no images of Bar-Jonah's actual cannibalistic recipes have been released).
- Were suspected of cooking and serving a victim to other people while the victim was being searched for (only confirmed in Floyd's case).
- Their restaurants were closed down based on the latter suspicions.