Whatever happened to Hex Murder defendants, convicted in York County 80 years ago? Part III
The Nelson Rehmeyer’s Hex murder house in North Hopewell Township, Pa., stands today in rural York County. A couple of years ago, township regulations thwarted efforts to convert the house into a museum. The famous 1928 murder of Nelson Rehmeyer was a case of the Pennsylvania Dutch healing practice of powwowing that went fatally amok. Other posts of interest: What happened to Hex Murder defendants, convicted in York County 80 years ago? Part I and Part II and Der Belsnickel of the Pennsylvania Dutch: ‘He looked scary and carried a sack of presents’ and What is the Pennsylvania German (Pennsylfaanisch Deitsch) dialect all about?
An often-forgotten piece of the Hex Murder case is that people alive today knew one or more of the three defendants who killed powwow practitioner and suspected witch Nelson Rehmeyer in his southeastern York County home.
Three defendants were convicted in the slaying of Rehmeyer, a farmer in remote North Hopewell Township, only eight decades ago.
As I wrote in my World War II book “In the Thick of the Fight,” this case involving superstition and white magic and the casting of spells and the like occurred only a decade before York County manufacturing prowess reached its zenith in World War II. So, you had York countians serving as internationally known forward-thinkers on the military defense front at the same time that another set of residents were practicing medieval healing arts.
That’s York County. So simple, but so complex.
The following York Daily Record/Sunday News story (6/20/07) explores one resident who had contact with one of the Hex Murder defendants:
Stories are being recalled now, about two weeks after a Rehmeyer relative announced plans to open the house for tours.
Before Kenneth O’Neal became a United Methodist minister, he worked for the state in York and rented a farmhouse near the Rehmeyer home. He said he became fascinated by the case and read the entire trial transcripts in the county courthouse.
He went to Philadelphia to find John Blymire in his tiny apartment on Lawrence Street. Blymire was working as an apartment house custodian.
“Things had happened to him in prison,” O’Neal said. “He was isolated in prison. His thinking was fairly clear. He held no bitterness. He asked me to look up his son, Thomas, if I was ever in York.”
Blymire’s first two children, a girl and boy, had died early in life. He and his wife, Lizzy, had divorced.
O’Neal found Thomas Blymire at a home in the 300 block of Philadelphia Street in York.
“His dad would watch him from a small park across the street,” O’Neal said. “John did not want a relationship with Tom. I don’t know why. Tom tried a couple times.”
His father’s conviction in the notorious hex murder and Blymire’s inability to establish a relationship hurt his son deeply, O’Neal said.
“Tom was very distrustful,” O’Neal said. “It took years to gain his trust. He eventually moved to live with his daughter in Birmingham, Ala., died and was shipped to York for burial.”
His daughter still comes to the cemetery to leave flowers at her father’s grave. O’Neal said he once left his card but got no response.
“It’s a shame,” O’Neal said. “Eventually when these fellows got out, they led productive lives.”
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.