NewsCrime and Courts


'True crime' author hosts book signing in Great Falls

The horrific case of Nathaniel Bar-Jonah
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Posted at 8:25 AM, Jun 07, 2024

Great Falls native and author Lauri Olsen hosted a book signing at Cassiopeia Books in Great Falls on Thursday, June 6, 2024, for her new true crime novel, diving into a horrific murder and child predator case that happened in Great Falls.

Olsen’s book A Preponderance of Evil: The Nathaniel Bar-Jonah Story tells the chilling story of Nathaniel Bar-Jonah. In 2002, Cascade County District Court convicted Bar-Jonah of aggravated kidnapping, sexual assault, and assault with a weapon, sentencing him to 130 years in Montana State Prison.

From the Amazon summary:

When 10-year-old Zachary Ramsay disappeared on his way to school in Great Falls, Montana, police investigated all possible leads to find him. One name on a list of suspects rose to the top: Nathaniel Bar-Jonah (born David Paul Brown.) Convicted of abduction, child molestation and attempted murder in Massachusetts, Bar-Jonah's crimes against children had escalated when he moved to the Big Sky State. It was only after the FBI decoded his cryptic writings that law enforcement officers discovered what may be the horrifying truth about the day Zach vanished.

A freelance journalist at the time, Olsen covered the trial, and utilized her detailed personal notes of the trial, court documents, police files, and even letters written between her and Bar Jonah himself to put together this book.

Olsen says, “I was in the courtroom here in Great Falls for his trial, and as I studied the court documents afterwards, I thought, I'm going to write a book and say to parents, these are the things that we're doing wrong, these are the ways these monsters get to our children.”

Olsen is an established author who has written children’s books, romance novels, and a Montana women’s history book. This is her first true crime novel, and Olsen says it is probably her last.

On writing the book, Olsen says, “It was very intense. I lived with this manuscript for years, and three times I put it down because it's a grisly subject and he was a monstrous man. And so I put it away and then I would take it out again.”

The goal of her book is to dive into the psyche and methods of child predators in order for parents to know what to look for.

At the end of the book, Olsen provides 16 tips for keeping your child safe. Olsen explains, “After all I learned about Bar Jonah and his pure manipulation, he was an evil man, my question is how could I not write it. Bar Jonah’s gone, but there are still predators out there and if this book helps make people more aware of who they are, what their operation is, what to look for, it’ll make a difference I hope.”

The book is available at Cassiopeia Books (606 Central Avenue) and online book-sellers.