DEER LODGE, Mont. – Convicted sex offender Nathaniel Bar-Jonah, who authorities accused of killing and cannibalizing a young boy in Great Falls, was found dead in his cell early Sunday at the Montana State Prison.
Bar-Jonah was serving a 130-year sentence for kidnapping, sexually assaulting and choking a teenage neighbor boy.
In 2000, authorities also charged Bar-Jonah with murder in the 1996 disappearance of 10-year-old Zach Ramsay. Authorities said they had evidence suggesting Bar-Jonah had butchered the boy and disposed of his body in meals served to neighbors. They were later forced to dismiss the murder charge after Ramsay's mother said she would testify she believed her son was still alive.
Sunday morning, shortly after shift change at 6 a.m., Bar-Jonah was found unresponsive in his cell, prison spokeswoman Linda Moodry said.
"Emergency medical response was initiated and he was transported to Powell County Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 7:06 a.m.," Moodry said in a written statement.
Moodry said the cause of death is unknown at this time. She added that Bar Jonah had been in poor health recently and said an autopsy will be performed by the state medical examiner to determine cause of death.
The death is under investigation by Department of Corrections investigators in cooperation with the Powell County Sheriff's Office, Moodry said.
Bar-Jonah moved to Montana after facing legal trouble in Massachusetts.
In 1977, Bar-Jonah pleaded guilty in Worcester Superior Court to charges of kidnapping, attempted murder and impersonation of a police officer after he posed as a police officer and kidnapped two boys in Shrewsbury. Bar-Jonah attempted to assault the boys, and when they resisted, he tried to strangle them. One of the boys escaped and found help.
Later, a plea deal in another case allowed Bar-Jonah to move to Montana with his family.