The small home in York County, Pennsylvania that was the site of the 1928 murder of Nelson Rehmeyer will be open to the public for tours this fall.
I alluded to the hex murder in my Hexenkopf post a while back. In brief, eastern Pennsylvania has been the home to a strong tradition of folk healing, known as braucherei or hexerei. Its practitioners have the power to cure – and, according to some, to kill. This was the background against which the hex murder was placed.
John Blymire was a former client of Rehmeyer who was told by another healer that Rehmeyer had cursed him. Blymire came to Rehmeyer’s house to get his copy of the Long-Lost Friend, a book which I’ve discussed at some length. This would break the curse.
So, Blymire turned up on Rehmeyer’s doorstep with two accomplices. They tried to get the book back, and in the ensuing struggle, Rehmeyer was killed. Figuring this was good enough, they rifled his wallet, left the book, and unsuccessfully tried to set the body on fire. Remember, folks – good planning is the key to any murder scheme!
As they weren’t trying too hard not to be caught, Blymire and his friends were rounded up and put on trial. The trial served as an excuse for journalists from large towns to express incredulity, wonder, and bemusement that such “primitive” beliefs could survive in the twentieth century. Of course, this illustrated the newsmen’s lack of knowledge of magic and their own towns more than anything else. The case became famous, being the subject of Arthur Lewis’ book Hex and the movie Apprentice to Murder, which I really need to see.
Of especial interest in the announcement above is the fact that Rehmeyer’s copy of the Long-Lost Friend might be on display on occasion. I wondered what had happened to it, and it might be worth the trek from the Undisclosed Location to take a look.