CRIME: Hex & Hoax

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First, John Blymyer went to Doc Lenhart, of York, who told him he was bewitched; then he had powwows with Doc Sam Schmuck and Maizie Homer who both told him the same thing, though neither of them knew who had hexed him. Last, he tried Mrs. Noll. Each time he went to her, she told John Blymyer the same thing: "Rehmeyer done it."

Further, she informed John Blymyer that the only way in which he could break the charm that made him sickly, that made his pigs die, that made sweat break out on his face in the dead of night, was to steal from Rehmeyer his book, The Long Lost Friend, or else get a lock of his hair and bury it eight feet underground. John Blymyer got two young fellows, John Curry and Wilbert Hess; Rehmeyer had hexed them too, he said. The three of them went down to Rehmeyer's farmhouse one night in the autumn to get the book or the lock of hair.

Rehmeyer was a huge handsome old man; his bushy eyebrows stuck out like wiry wings over his black eyes and a tooth was missing in the front of his mouth. The three men whom he had hexed drove up to his door that evening and Blymyer shouted up to the window, "Come down, Rehmeyer. We want the book."

Rehmeyer came down and stood in the doorway, scowling out into the darkness, holding a lantern. The three fought with him, beat him down with their sticks. Finally, he lay still on his kitchen floor.

Then it was unnecessary to take the book or the lock of hair. The hex was broken; the old devilish witch was dead.

This was the story which John Blymyer told last week in court at York, Pa., standing trial for the murder of Nelson D. Rehmeyer. "Are you unhexed now?" Judge Ray Sherwood asked him. "Yes. I got the witch. ..." said John Blymyer.

His father and mother came to court and testified that they had had him pow-wowed 15 times before he was ten years old. Said Babulla Blymyer, his mother: "Yes, John was hexed. But who done it? You can't tell that. There's so many witches around."

Said Emmanuel Blymyer, his father: "Dere was de old time and now's de new time. In de old time, nobody had no learnin'. Now in de new time, children get A B C."

The jury was given to understand that the motive of the murder was robbery. Newspaper correspondents were not welcomed at the trial. John Blymyer was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. Said he:

"I got too much. But anyhow I'm not bewitched now. since Rehmeyer's dead."

Promptly John Blymyer's two assistants were tried. John Curry was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. Wilbert Hess was found guilty and sentenced to spend from ten to twenty years in jail.

Warlocks and the black arts, hexes and powwows have been neglected by a race of modern rustics who, when their crops are bad or the pigs perish, appeal to the U. S. government. City people, who supposed that the last U. S. beldame had long since ridden up the wind and that the rattle of wild laughter in the autumn air had never been heard since Salem, were surprised to learn of the York witches. They regarded the episode as a weird survival of savage superstition into an era of radios, mechanical birds and spiritualism, of which also there was controversial talk last week.

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