Nelson Rehmeyer was murdered in 1928. An angry neighbor, John Blymire, was eventually convicted for it. But there is more to it than that.
The murderer claimed it was all due to witchcraft. In the 20th century.
Blymire had been suffering from bad luck for a number of years. His grandfather and father turned to “pow-wow” for cures. They performed spells and hexes, a sort of eastern European version of voodoo that traveled with the immigrants who settled in the mid-Atlantic states. Blymire was a sickly child, his own two children died within days of their birth, he began to lose his grip on his reality, he lost his job and his wife had him committed to an asylum.
According to “pow-wow”, he must be cursed and he decided that Rehmeyer had done it. Blymire consulted a local witch, who confirmed his suspicions. Blymie then enlisted the help of two other men and the three set about to kill Rehmeyer in his own home.
During the trial, Blymire cited the confirmation by the River Witch’s as well as a book called Long Lost Friend, a book of “pow-wow” that was owned by nearly everyone in the area at that time. Rehmeyer’s copy is supposedly what held the hex over Blymire and he believed that to be released from the spell he had to kill Rehmeyer and destroy that copy of the book.
The three did kill Rehmeyer and attempt to set the house on fire, but failed. All three were caught and convicted.
YORK, Pa., Jan. 7—(UP)—Formal indictments were returned today against Wilbert Hess, John Blymeyer and John Curry, charging them with murder in connection with York’s witchcraft murder case. The grand jury deliberated only 20 minutes. Each indictment contained two counts manslaughter and murder in connection with the murder of Nelson Rehmeyer who allegedly was killed, when he refused to give a lock of his hair to eliminate “Hex” that had been worked against Hess’ father.
The Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune from Chillicothe, Missouri · Page 4
Today you can still find copies of the Long Lost Friend. It is even available online. It mostly consists of silly antidotes to mundane problems. To get rid of warts, it suggests: Roast chicken-feet and rub the warts with them; then bury them under the eaves. It also includes ideas on how to prevent being bewitched, but it does not include violence.
Read more about the case in this article from Dagger Press. Read more about the history of the Long Lost Friend on Weird Old Books.