York Town Square

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Researcher of Hex Murder victim: ‘Why such things must happen to good people is the real horror’

The house where powwow practitioner Nelson Rehmeyer was killed in Rehmeyer’s Hollow in southern York County, Pa. A group of Rehmeyer relatives and a researcher recently visited the site, scene of the Hex murder case in 1928-1929, Also of interest: Whatever happened to Hex Murder defendants, convicted in York County, Pa., 80 years ago? and Check out this list of York County’s most notorious crimes in past 50 years and Hex book: How powwow doctors plied their craft.

Sean Coxen teaches at a community college in Maryland.
And he’s not related to Nelson Rehmeyer, the victim of a trio of murderers in the Hex Murder. (For a summation of the case, visit: Hex murder compared to O.J.’s, Anna Nicole Smith’s cases.)
He calls himself a curiosity seeker who feels a great deal of sympathy for the victim.
So he’s dug into research on Rehmeyer. Among other things, he recently met with Rehmeyer relatives and toured the grounds of the farm in which the murder took place.
He wrote a report of his visit and findings about Nelson Rehmeyer for York Town Square,The beginning of that report provides a summation of his conclusions: …

Stones that formed part of the old Rehmeyer barn stand in underbrush today.

The name Nelson Rehmeyer has suffered much violence, just like the man himself. This misfortune springs largely from a book called Hex by Arthur H. Lewis, wherein the author advocates Rehmeyer’s murderer, John Blymyer, and, in doing so, presents Rehmeyer in the worst possible light. According to Lewis, Nelson Rehmeyer was a black witch, a true disciple of the dark arts who could command the very presence of Beelzebub, a man who afflicted others with misery for the sheer fun of it.
Several generations of youngsters have now gone “legend-tripping” into the wooded hollow where Rehmeyer lived and died (Rehmeyer’s Hollow, named for his extended family), looking for ghosts, demons and other supernatural amusements. Legends of shadowy figures prowling the woods, a malevolent presence charging the creepy atmosphere of the hollow, even the notion that Rehmeyer slaughtered children to satisfy his Satanic rituals have blackened a good man’s name. This probably owes as much to local legend as it does to Lewis, but the latter showed little conscience in trading on these legends — not to mention outright lies of his own — to write a sensationalistic account of Rehmeyer’s murder crafted more, I suspect, for his bank account rather than journalistic truth.
It is against this background that I went searching for answers, trying to get beneath the detritus left by Lewis and reams of paranormal junkies who want to find demons where none exist. I first read about the “Hex Murder” in a book called Weird U.S.A. Timothy Renner wrote an article describing the murder and legends surrounding the hollow. In the last paragraph, he writes, “He [Rehmeyer] was a man of God…He might have pow-wowed for my ancestors, healed children, and given hope to the hopeless.” I believe Mr. Renner is correct. Rehmeyer was a good man undeservedly maligned.
Nelson Rehmeyer’s direct descendants, especially great-grandson Rickie Ebaugh (the last of the line), make no bones that old man indeed practiced pow-wow (or Braucherei, Brauche), a supposedly magical art allowing practitioners to heal illnesses and protect the vulnerable by casting charms and performing rituals and prescribing herbs. In short, Rehmeyer was a “white witch.” There is no evidence that Rehmeyer was a Hexenmeister or Hexer, a black witch who cast spells with malicious intent. Of course, John Blymyer believed exactly that … a toothless hag in Marietta, PA told him so. All utter bunk, but it made too good a story for Arthur H. Lewis and his financial ambitions to pass up.

Sean provided an apt reminder of how contemporary folks viewed Nelson Rehmeyer. He was buried in St. John’s (Sadler’s) Lutheran Church cemetery, an honor, not an obligation.
The researcher has made a contribution by focusing on the victim in this terrible murder case.
He concluded with:

“On the day we visited, the house had a broken second-story window and also some damage done to a downspout three feet away,” “Clearly vandalism. It seems yet another layer of misfortune in this tragedy that 82 years later, Rehmeyer’s house and property will not be left in peace or be accorded the respect it deserves. Why such things must happen to good people is the real horror in this puffed-up supernatural thriller.”

If anyone has information or thoughts about the Hex Murder or wants to know more about the researcher’s findings, contact Sean Coxen or comment below.

Also of interest:
To see all Hex Murder posts/photos from the start, click here.
Or if you prefer, click on these individual links with their extensive collection of photographs:
Powwowing: ‘… It was here, and it had many adherents … , ‘Powwowing was done for good’, Hex headache cure: ‘Tame thou flesh and bone’, Relative: Evil in Hex murder came from outside, Hex murder fascinating tale of mysticism, occult: Part 1, ‘Trials of Hex’ makes sense of notorious murder case: Part 2 , Little-known facts about Hex murder trial emerge, Hex murder compared to O.J.’s, Anna Nicole Smith’s cases, Hex house visit offers surprises, Visiting the scene of the crime.