Nathaniel Bar-Jonah (1957-2008) was a felon convicted of kidnapping and sexual assault. According to a website, he left behind an encrypted note. Is this note genuine? Can it be solved? I hope my readers can answer these questions.
Ciphers related to crimes have always been a popular topic on Klausis Krypto Kolumne. My articles about the Zodiac Killer, the Debosnys cryptograms, Ricky McCormick’s encrypted notes and a few others created considerable interest.
So, I was quite thrilled when Craig Bauer, editor in chief of Cryptologia and author of an up-coming book named “Unsolved! History’s Greatest Ciphers”, told me about a criminal case involving encryption I hadn’t known before – the case of Nathaniel Bar-Jonah.
US citizen Nathaniel Bar-Jonah (born David Paul Brown) was convicted of kidnapping, aggravated assault, and sexual assault of various children in 2004. He received a 130-year prison sentence without the possibility of parole. He died in a Montana prison in 2008.
Bar-Jonah had evidence against him for the murder of ten-year-old boy Zachary Ramsay. He is said to have cooked the boy and served him to unsuspecting guests. In Bar-Jonah’s apartment, detectives found a number of recipes with titles such as “little boy pot pie” and “french fried kid”. For these reasons, Bar-Jonah was referred to as a cannibal in the media.
Nevertheless, Bar-Jonah was never convicted of murder. Zachary Ramsay’s mother refused to cooperate with police, based on her belief that the child found dead was not her son and that Zachary was still alive.
Ben-Jonah’s encrypted journal
The Wikipedia article about Nathaniel Ben-Jonah mentions a “decoded journal”. However, the reference given (a comprehensive website about the Ben-Jonah case) doesn’t contain any information about it. The only thing I found is an encrypted note that is mentioned on a website Craig Bauer told me about (item 7 on the list). Here it is:
Now, several things are unclear to me:
- Does this note stem from Nathaniel Ben-Jonah’s journal?
- If not, was this note written by Ben-Jonah at all?
- If this note is not from Ben-Jonah, who made it?
- Can this cryptogram be broken?
- Are there more encrypted notes from Nathaniel Ben-Jonah?
If a reader can answer one of these questions, I would be very interested.
Further reading: The ciphers of the Unabomber