- The Hex Hollow Murder
- Fortean / Oddball News - 8/21/2010
- Voracious Self-Cloning Crayfish Invades Ecologically Sensitive Madagascar
Posted: 21 Aug 2010 01:39 PM PDT
In Webster's dictionary, witchcraft is defined as the act or instance of employing sorcery, especially with malevolent intent: a magical rite or technique. The religious will say if you believe in God, and believe in what the Bible says, then you must believe in the powers of evil as well. You cannot take one side and then completely discount the other side...basically, evil power is real and witchcraft is the use of it. In reality, though, there is a very fine line between good and evil.
When it came to folk magic or witchcraft in my neck of the woods, Pow-wow was the preferred mystic art. Pow-wow is a unique combination of Christian theology and shamanistic belief. Shamanism is the oldest form of religion and the belief is that there is one Supreme Being...that all is derived from this and is interrelated. In Europe, Shamanic practitioners were persecuted as witches in the name of orthodox religion. It is still practiced in some rural areas of Pennsylvania, though it has been outlawed for several generations. In spite of the name, it is not of Native American derivation. The name comes from the book Pow-wows, or, The Long Lost Friend, written by John George Hohman and first published in German as Der Lange Verborgene Freund in 1820. The subtitle of the booklet hints at the breadth of its contents...a collection of mysterious and invaluable arts and remedies for man as well as animals with many proofs of their virtue and efficacy in healing diseases, etc. It was recognized mainly by Pennsylvania Dutch hex-meisters but after the translation to English in 1846, it had a tremendous influence on the commoner folk magicians of the Appalachians. This little book includes healing spells, binding spells, protective spells, wards and benedictions. Though I'm not a religious person, I am spiritual (and a bit superstitious...I'll cover that later) and always have my copy of 'The Long Lost Friend' near me...it's my personal talisman.
All religions have an upside and a downside. The downside of the Judeo-Christian tradition is Satanism. The downside of Pow-wow was corruption by practitioners, the hex-meisters, who would cast spells or hexes on anyone for a price. Hex-meisters were deeply feared by most people from all walks of life. These German immigrants came to Pennsylvania during the late 1800s and unlike the regular practitioners of Pow-wow, who were mainly of lower class and came here for religious freedom, these newcomers were of the middle and upper classes. There was, at the time, a revival of occultism in Europe, some of which was Satanic. This first wave of immigrant Germans brought this influence with them and became better known as the Pennsylvania Dutch.
In 1895, John Blymire was born in York County, Pa...into the world of witchcraft, magick and superstition. His father and grandfather were Pow-wows and he inherited their healing abilities, but not the strength of their skills. When Blymire was five, he suffered from opnema, a wasting away of the body that was believed to be caused by hexes, but was usually caused by poor diet and malnutrition. Neither his grandfather nor father could cure him, so they took him to a powerful Pow-wow healer named Nelson Rehmeyer who eventually cured him. (Note: Nelson D. Rehmeyer was a distant relative through marriage on my father's maternal side. Several generations of the Rehmeyer family and my grandmother's family attended the same church)
At age seven, Blymire attempted his first cure and was successful. He was of limited intelligence, homely and only modestly successful as a Pow-wow. People avoided him, except when they needed his Pow-wow skills. Because of this, Blymire was very lonely.
When he was thirteen, he quit school and worked in a cigar factory in York, Pa. He kept to himself, but word got out that he could heal. He supplemented his cigar factory earnings by accepting voluntary offerings for his work as a Pow-wow.
One day, there was an incident that should have made his reputation as a powerful Pow-wow. When work was done, Blymire and the other workers were leaving the factory when someone screamed that a "mad" dog was approaching. A collie, foaming at the mouth, was coming toward them. People tried to go inside the factory, but those leaving blocked their way. Blymire stood between them and the rabid dog, uttered an incantation and made the sign of the cross over the dog's head. The dog's mouth stopped foaming and it seemed to be cured of rabies. Blymire patted it on the head and the dog, tail wagging, followed him as he walked down the street.
Shortly after this incident, Blymire suffered from the opnema again. He was convinced someone had put a hex on him, possibly a jealous Pow-wow who did not want him to be successful. He quit his job in order to discover who had hexed him. He worked in odd jobs and practiced Pow-wow for financial survival and lived in rooming houses. It was at a rooming house where he met Lily, the woman who would become his wife. His health gradually improved and he found a regular job. His Pow-wow clientele steadily increased and it appeared the hex was removed or no longer worked.
Then disaster struck...Blymire's first child died within a few weeks after birth. Then a second child passed away three days after birth. In the meantime, his health declined and he lost his job.
Again, Blymire consulted with other witches to find out who had hexed him. One was Andrew C. Lenhart, a powerful witch who was feared by many police and city officials. Lenhart stated that he was hexed by someone close to him and Blymire was convinced it was Lily. She began to fear him and her father hired a lawyer who had Blymire evaluated by a psychiatrist. The diagnosis was borderline psychoneurosis. Blymire was committed to a state mental hospital from which he escaped by walking out of the door. There was no effort to recommit him.
In 1928, Blymire returned to work at the cigar factory where he met 14-year-old John Curry who had a cruel childhood due to abuse and believed he was hexed. Shortly after this, they met a farmer, Milton J. Hess who believed he was hexed. He and his wife were of Pennsylvania Dutch stock. They obeyed all of the regulations and rules hex-meisters gave them. Milton had been a successful farmer...crops flourished, chickens laid the right amount of eggs and the cows' milk was plentiful. His wife, Alice had a stand at the farmer's market, where she sold vegetables, flowers and fruit.
Hess explained that in 1926, for no apparent reason, things took a downward spiral. Crops began to fail, chickens were stolen and those that weren't did not lay eggs, cows would not eat and no longer produced milk. Milton's health was also severely affected. Wilbert, his 17-year-old son was also affected, psychologically, by hearing his father complain about the failures and lack of money and his mother changing from an energetic cheerful woman into a sad and silent one who withdrew from communicating with family. The family was convinced they were hexed. Hess got a job as a truck driver and Alice still had her stand, now, out of financial necessity.
In June, 1928, Hess met Blymire who lived in the Widow Detwiler's boarding house in an alley. They would talk daily and the conversation, eventually, turned to hexes. About this time, Blymire consulted Nellie Noll, who was known as the 'Witch of Marietta', also as the 'River Witch' in the attempt to discover who had hexed him. She told him that it was the 'Witch of Rehmeyer Hollow'…after much coaxing from Blymire, she named Nelson D. Rehmeyer.
Hess invited Blymire, as a 'Pow-wower' or 'Braucher', to his farm where the witch could see its condition for himself. He asked Blymire who had hexed the family, but he could not remember the name, so he visited Nellie Noll again. Again, she named Nelson D. Rehmeyer and added that Rehmeyer had also hexed Curry. She told him that all they had to do was to get Rehmeyer's copy of John George Hohman's 'Pow-wows or Long Lost Friend' and burn it. If they could not do that, they must get a lock of his hair and bury it 6 to 8 feet underground.
Once Blymire, Curry and the Hesses knew who had hexed them and what had to be done, there was a conference. Attending this meeting were Blymire, Curry and Milton, older brother Clayton and Wilbert Hess. Soon, plans were made for Blymire, Curry and Wilbert Hess to visit Rehmeyer and get a lock of hair or the book, do as they were directed and the hex would be removed. Clayton, the only family member who had a car, would drive them to the hollow. As events happened, Wilbert said he did not feel well and did not want to go. Blymire said it was OK if he did not. He and Curry would get the book or the lock of hair and would do what they had to.
The following information was taken from trial transcripts and records:
Nelson D. Rehmeyer, the 'Witch of Rehmeyer Hollow'
When they got to Rehmeyer's house, they discovered he was not home. They walked to the witch's ex-wife's house and saw a light through the window, so they knocked on the door. The duo was told that Rehmeyer was probably at his lady friend's house. They walked back to the witch's house and noticed a light on the second floor.
Blymire knocked on the door. Rehmeyer opened the door...he was much larger than Blymire remembered and was mean looking. Blymire asked if they could come in and Rehmeyer led them to the parlor where they sat and started to talk.
Blymire asked Rehmeyer if he had seen the book. The response was yes. The next question was if he had one. Again, the answer was affirmative. Blymire was satisfied with the answers. The conversation, then, turned to more mundane topics. Finally, Rehmeyer asked them why they had stopped by. Blymire told him that he had cured him of the opnema when he was a child and he had worked by picking potatoes for him.
Blymire, while they talked, try to mentally will Rehmeyer to hand over the book, but this was not effective. After a while, Rehmeyer said he was going to bed and they could sleep downstairs if they wanted to.
Curry quickly fell asleep while Blymire stayed awake trying to will the old witch to give them the book. Finally, he woke Curry and told him that he could not control Rehmeyer's mind. Should they try to use force and make him give them the book or a lock of hair? Blymire decided against this because the old witch was a big man and could easily overpower them. He decided they needed help.
That morning, Rehmeyer got up early and made the duo breakfast before they left. At some point, they bought a 25 foot length of strong rope and cut it into lengths of about 14 inches.
On Wednesday, November 27th, 1928, the night of the full moon and eve before Thanksgiving, Clayton drove the trio to Rehmeyer's Hollow. The three walked to Rehmeyer's house.
They demanded that he give them the book. He threw his wallet at them. Then, the three attacked Rehmeyer. Blymire wrapped a length of rope around Rehmeyer's neck. The trio fought savagely with the old man…Curry got a block of wood and hit Rehmeyer in the head. The old man was kicked in the head and the stomach and his face was battered. Blymire said he groaned, took a few breaths, then died.
They ransacked the house and found a small amount of money. The trio decided they had to get rid of the evidence that would tie them into the murder. Curry thought setting fire to the house would achieve this. They lit matches and dropped them in the house to set the fire. The house was smoldering when they left.
The house did not burn as they thought it would. A neighbor, Oscar Glatfelter, was passing by Rehmeyer's house on November 30th and heard his mule braying. When the man checked on the animal, he saw it had not been fed. Glatfelter knocked on the door and there was no answer, but the door was unlocked. After the neighbor entered the house, he saw Rehmeyer's corpse lying on the floor.
The Rehmeyer House during the murder investigation
It did not take the police long to arrest Blymire, Curry and Wilbert for the murder of Rehmeyer. All three confessed and Blymire said he was at peace now that he had killed the witch. The newswire services informed the public that a practicing witch had been killed in York County, Pa.
The trials began on January 9th, 1929. Judge Sherwood presided. District Attorney Amos W. Herrmann represented the commonwealth. Public defenders Walter W. VanBaman represented Curry and Herbert B. Cohen, Blymire. The Hess family could afford to hire Harvey A. Gross, the best criminal defense attorney in the area.
Judge Sherwood decreed that all mention of hexes and witchcraft in the confessions be edited out before they were admitted to records. The attempts of the defense attorneys to make hexes and witchcraft a matter of record via testimony were quashed.
Herrmann made his opening statements, avoiding all mention of witchcraft and hexes and forgot to mention the motive for the murder that the judge wanted. He was sharply reminded of this. The decreed motive was robbery and, then, was stated.
When Cohen tried to bring out testimony about witchcraft, the judge thwarted his efforts.
The trials were the some of the speediest in Pennsylvania history. By obstruction of justice, the judge got what he wanted, guilty verdicts, Blymire and Curry, murder in the first degree and Hess, murder in the second degree.
The sentences were handed down on January 14th. Blymire and Curry were given life in prison and Wilbert was given 10 to 20 years. In 1934, Hess and Curry were paroled and lived quiet lives in the York area. Curry became an artist and died in 1962. Blymire was finally paroled in 1953, returned to York and worked as a janitor.
The Hex House in Rehmeyer Hollow, East Hopewell Township, York County, Pa.
This case has always intrigued me...especially after I read Arthur Lewis' account of the incident in his book 'Hex'. I also remember the tales of paranormal activity in Rehmeyer Hollow and the reports of strange apparitions, said to be Nelson Rehmeyer's spirit, roaming the property nightly.
During my senior year in high school, I decided to make a short trip to Rehmeyer Hollow to see what all the fuss was. I had found a copy of 'The Long Lost Friend' and decided to carry it with me. Like I said earlier, I'm a bit superstitious and thought the book may protect me in some way.
I made the journey alone in mid October 1975...it was late afternoon when I arrived at a locked gate that was suspended over the access road that had a 'No Trespassing' sign attached to it. At that time, the sparse open areas were overgrown with briers and high weeds. The woods were very thick and dark and as I started walking on the road I could make out the roof of the small house jutting over the trees. As I approached, I noticed what looked like an older man in dark pants and a jacket standing on the road near the bend that led to the house….I estimated he was about 150 feet in front of me. It looked like he was searching for something because he was looking face down in a peculiar manner.
I stopped walking and stood for a few seconds watching this person go back and forth across the road, never raising their head. So I decided it was time to find out if this was a caretaker or if it was OK for me proceed any further even though I knew was trespassing.
I shouted "hello...sir". No response. So I was about to shout again thinking this person was hard of hearing or possibly ignoring me. Just as I began to open my mouth to shout, this person quickly looked up and....
Now, I realize that I was a fair distance away but this 'person' that, I swear to this day, had no facial features. No eyes, no mouth, no nose...just a head. I spun around and hauled my butt back to the car. The ghost hunt was over. I wheeled my Mustang out of that hollow onto the main road in record time. Honestly, I don't remember the drive home. I was absolutely stunned by the experience.
A few days later, my girlfriend and I were in my room and she found 'The Long Lost Friend' on my desk. I was lying on the bed with headphones on when I looked over and saw that she was looking in the book. As I watched her, I noticed that there was writing on the book cover. I had purchased the book as new, had never written in it or had it anywhere other than when I was at Rehmeyer Hollow. As I looked closer, there was an "NR" written in pencil.
The next day, I lit the grill in the backyard and promptly burned the book and buried the ashes. I wasn't leaving anything to 'chance'. A few weeks later, I purchase a new copy of 'The Long Lost Friend' and it's been with me since.
The following is a description of how the Pow-wower applied their skills in 20th-century York County, as noted by Arthur H. Lewis in his 1969 book "Hex":
Except for two days a month, the Rohrbaugh Convalescent Home in rural Spring Grove, York County, Pennsylvania, is about as quiet a spot as you're likely to find anywhere in the Keystone State. But on the first and sixteenth, it becomes a mecca for scores of ailing men, women and children who flock to this tiny village, there to be powwowed back to health by Mrs. Leah Frank.
Mistakenly, I assumed there was some significance in the choice of the two days on which Mrs. Frank practices her profession.
"When I reached ninety, and that was four years ago," Mrs. Frank explained, "I thought maybe I'd better quit altogether; it's so hard on a body. But my people wouldn't let me, tole me they needed me. So, instead of workin' every day, I tole 'em I'd 'try for' two days a month and I picked the first and the sixteenth. Then people will know when to come and not be disappointed in between. That's all there is to it."
Through the windows of the second-floor bedroom she seldom leaves, Mrs. Frank can view the soft hills of York County where she has lived all her years. As a matter of fact, the aged powwower spends most of her daylight hours in an old-fashioned Morris chair facing the east. "I'd rather see the sun come up than go down," she says gently.
Except for a slight diminution in hearing and arthritis, only lately beginning to cripple the long, tapered fingers she needs for "laying on" ill or otherwise troubled patients, Mrs. Frank remains in excellent health. Her cheeks, though wrinkled, have a healthy glow; her teeth are her own, and her sharp blue eyes still regard with abiding interest that small portion of the world she sees.
"Prettiest part of the world, though I wouldn't know much about the rest of it," Mr. Frank said in a clear voice with a strong Pennsylvania Dutch inflection. "Born and raised ten miles from here and never been no further away than forty. But you don't have to travel to learn things and how to take care of 'em that needs you, do you?"
She smiled and went on.
"I've been tryin' for people for a long, long time. I always know'd I had the power but I learned how to use it from a veterinarian who practiced powwowin' too. That was back in 1904; I've been doin' it ever since.
"Course that's not all I ever done. I just used to try for people on the side like most of us faith healers do. From the time I was a little girl 'till I was seventy-seven years I worked in a mill and I worked hard, too. Anymore I don't work so hard. Now I'm so old I only powwow."
What troubles Mrs. Frank is the current shortage of apprentices willing to undergo the rigors of training in order to become worthy practitioners.
"I don't mean those that don't have the power inside 'em 'cause they'll never learn no matter how much they want to. Some of 'em try but I always say to 'em, 'If you can't stop blood, you'll never be a powwower, so don't waste your time.'"
"What I'm referrin' to is those that got the power but don't want to use it. It ain't easy; you have to work hard and it makes you mighty tired to try for people.
Mrs. Frank did not elaborate upon the curriculum required before the neophyte can become a full-fledged practitioner. She did say, however, that after "blood stopping," which, incidentally, she claims can never be taught and must be known congenitally, the next training step is wart removal. After that come the many other branches of the discipline concluding with cures for the opnema, St. Anthony's fire and finally tumors.
Mrs. Frank also holds to the orthodox belief, one shared by the majority of her colleagues, that an instructor in powwowism or witchcraft may impart his knowledge only to members of the opposite sex.
"A man shouldn't teach another man or boy and a woman can't teach another woman or girl," claims this nonagenarian necromancer. "I'm helpin' train a young man who lives 'round here and he's doin' all right. But I sure wish I could teach my granddaughter. She was born with the power but she don't know how to use it. She could do wonderful good."
I asked Mrs. Frank what would happen if she attempted to teach the profession to her granddaughter. She shuddered.
"Oh, my goodness! That would be terrible. I'd suffer for it the rest of my days and maybe lose my own power if I tried."
Like the Willow Street powwower, to whom she is not related, Mrs. Frank is aware of the present of evil area witches. However, she does not subscribe to Clair Frank's depressing theory that practitioners of the black art are getting smarter as well as increasingly numerous.
"Not many of 'em 'round as there used to be," Mrs. Frank said cheerfully. "And they're getting dumber and dumber all the time. But when I was a girl!"
NOTE: In 1988, the film Apprentice to Murder was released and starred Donald Sutherland, Chad Lowe and Mia Sara. The story was based on the Rehmeyer Hollow Murder...Lon
Lewis, Arthur H., 'Hex' (1969) - Trident Press
Yronwode, Catherine, 'Hoodoo in Theory and Practice'
Georg Hohman, Johann, 'Pow-Wows or The Long Lost Friend' (1820)
Rehmeyer Family Archives
The Hex Hollow Murder
Posted: 21 Aug 2010 09:09 AM PDT
The Incredible Shrinking Moon
AP - The moon may be shrinking.
Not to worry though, lovers and crooners, it won't be disappearing any time soon.
New research indicates cracks in the moon's crust that have formed as the interior has cooled and shrunk over the last billion years or so. That means the surface has shrunk, too, though not so you'd notice just from gazing at it.
Scientists have identified 14 landforms called lobate scarps scattered over the surface of the moon, explained Thomas R. Watters of the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.
Watters and colleagues describe their find in Friday's edition of the journal Science.
The scarps had previously been noted at the moon's equator, but this is the first evidence in other areas, indicating they result from a global process.
The study calls the scarps "evidence of recent thrust faulting on the moon." But this is planetary science, where "recent" can mean a billion years ago.
The scarps, or cliffs, extend across some small craters, and small craters tend to be obliterated over time, Watters explained in a telephone interview. In addition, there are no large craters imposed on top of the scarps, another indication they are relatively recent, in planetary terms, he said.
"One of the really cool parts of this ... the faults are so young-looking that you can't escape the possibility that this contraction occurred recently, and could indicate that the moon is still active," Watters said.
The size of the scarps indicates a shrinkage in the size of the moon of about 100 meters (328 feet), which wouldn't be nearly enough to be noticed with the naked eye. The moon is about one-fourth the size of the Earth in diameter.
The scarps range up to 10 meters (a little over 30 feet) high and a few kilometers long, he said. By comparison, the planet Mercury has much larger scarps indicating considerably more shrinkage over time.
The moon's not going to disappear and its shrinkage won't affect the Earth in any way, Watters stressed.
Kissing Bugs...Nasty Little Insects That Bite Your Lips
fishinsects - Triatoma infestans is one of the Kissing Bugs. Like the ticks, these bugs can carry human diseases. T.infestans is the most important carrier of Chaga's disease in South America.
What happens is that the bug gets infected with the parasite (Trypanosoma cruzi) when he sucks blood from an infected person, and then passes it on when he bites a new victim. The parasite is actually passed out with the bug's faeces, and then it creeps into the wound which is usually on the lips. Soon after infection there is a chronic reaction, typically with swelling around the lips, and then the disease lays dormant for several years. The later, chronic, stage of the disease is very serious. There is often severe heart damage, and while the disease can be treated just after infection, the chronic disease remains incurable. Even heart transplants don't seem to work because the parasite just takes advantage of the lowered immune system, reproduces like mad, and then starts doing damage all over again!
Charles Darwin ( famous for his views on evolution ) probably caught Chaga's Disease when he was bitten by "a great black bug of the pampas" while on his famous voyage round the world in the 'Beagle'. It is possible to get a vaccination before going to places where the disease is endemic (parts of South America), and you can also use mosquito nets. The worrying thing is that for every one adult flying down to 'get' you there will be five young ones crawling up! And that's not all one has young that camouflage themselves, so that you can end up carrying them into the house with the firewood.
Kissing Bugs are members of the Assassin Bug and Wheel Bug family of insects (Reduviidae). They have been found preserved in Amber - (Assassin Bug in Colombian Amber). Most Assassin Bugs kill insects so they can be very helpful to man, often killing agricultural and garden pests, and sometimes more directly (such as the 'Masked Hunter' who kills bedbugs!). Wheel Bugs are among the many bugs kept as pets by some people who feed them mealworms. They look very unusual but they can give a very nasty bite, so I don't think I'll go any further than keeping Silverfish myself!
India Couple Sacrifices 4-Year-Old Daughter To 'Attain Wealth'
indiatimes - A poverty-stricken couple in an Uttar Pradesh village allegedly killed their four-year-old daughter after a self-proclaimed godman assured them that the act would attain them affluence, police said Wednesday.
Shri Krishna and his wife Rama Devi are absconding. The body of their daughter Kanni was recovered late Tuesday evening from their house in Sitapur district's Dahelikushepa village, some 80 km from Lucknow.
"Investigations reveal it is a case of human sacrifice. Flowers, packets of sindoor (vermillion), incense sticks and other 'puja' items were recovered from near the girl's body," police inspector Rajveer Singh told reporters in Sitapur.
"The body, which was found buried in the courtyard, had multiple burn injuries. It appeared that the girl was attacked with a sharp-edged weapon. The body has been sent for post-mortem examination," he added.
The couple killed their daughter under the influence of a 'tantrik', Shiv Kumar, who too is absconding.
Villagers, who noticed Shiv Kumar entering the couple's house Tuesday morning, informed the police after they heard Kanni's screams.
"They managed to escape. The same 'tantrik' had also suggested other families to go for a child sacrifice in order to get rid of their poverty," the police inspector said.
"Locals said Shri Krishna and his wife believed they would attain affluence overnight with the ways suggested by Shiv Kumar," he added.
Raelians' 'Go Topless' Day
myfoxspokane - Sunday is "Go Topless" Day, with women (and men) gathering in U.S. cities to advance a woman's right to go shirtless, just like men.
"As long as men can be topless, constitutionally women should have the same right, or men should also be forced to wear something hiding their chest," Maitreya, Rael, "spiritual leader" and founder of Go Topless , the group behind Sunday's annual event, says on the group's website.
In case you are wondering:
• No, there is no PG version of Sunday's event.
• Women do wear nipple covers that look like actual nipples.
• They also wear little more than strategically placed stickers.
• And guys? Male supporters wear bras and bikinis.
The annual event is held on the Sunday nearest to Aug. 26, the date in 1920 when the U.S. Constitution was amended to grant women the right to vote. Also, Congress in 1970 declared Aug. 26 "Women's Equality Day."
Major cities taking part include: San Francisco; New York; Austin, Texas ; Los Angeles; Denver; Seattle; Miami, and Chicago .
Go Topless was founded by the Raelian Movement, which believes that life on Earth was created by advanced extraterrestrial scientists, states the group's website.
For supporters of the topless cause, a woman's breasts should not be treated any different than her legs, belly button or other body parts than can be exposed without hassle.
"It's a matter of fairness," Go Topless director Nadine Gary told AOL News . "We want equal topless rights for all or none."
Gary, a native of France, which tolerates topless women in public, wants the issue to become law, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
She said the goal is also to establish clarity in what's allowed. Gary noted that a woman arrested in New York for going topless in public was later awarded $29,000 for wrongful arrest.
Japanese Man Kept Dead Mother in a Backpack
BBC - The remains of a Japanese woman have been found in a backpack, in the latest gruesome discovery by investigators searching for missing old people.
The woman's son told police his mother died in 2001 but he had not been able to pay for a burial.
A similar discovery weeks ago sparked a search for people who are registered as being more than 100 years old.
According to Japanese media, the audit has so far identified 281 centenarians who are missing or have already died.
The inquiry followed the discovery last month of the mummified remains of a man registered as being 111 years old. He had died 30 years earlier.
Those unaccounted for include a 125-year-old woman whose registered address was turned into a park in 1981, according to media reports.
In the latest find, a 64-year-old man told officials that his mother had died at home in Tokyo in "about June 2001".
"Because I didn't have money for a funeral, I didn't report her death," the Sankei Shimbun newspaper quoted him as saying.
The AFP news agency reported that he told police: "I laid out her body for a while, washed it in the bath, then broke up the bones and put them into a backpack."
But the woman's pension continued to be paid and police are now investigating the son on suspicion of fraud.
There are more than 40,000 registered centenarians in Japan, according to government data, but the number of missing has raised concerns that the welfare system is being exploited by dishonest relatives.
Analysts say there is dismay in Japan that a rich, efficient society could have lost track of its senior citizens to such a degree.
Fortean / Oddball News - 8/21/2010
Posted: 21 Aug 2010 08:26 AM PDT
sci-tech-today - Alarm is mounting on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar over an invasion of voracious self-cloning crayfish, which are gobbling their way through rice paddies and threatening endemic crayfish species.
The marbled crayfish, or marmorkrebs, is color mottled brown-green with light and dark spots and can grow up to 10 centimeters in length.
It is not clear how or when the shrimp-like crustacean, which is believed to originate in North America, came to this vast island, which lies 400 kilometers off the coast of Mozambique.
Experts believe it arrived via Europe, where German scientists already warned in 2003 about the proliferation of the crayfish as aquarium fish.
Professor Olga Ramilijaona, a biologist at the capital's Universite d'Antananarivo, said the first specimens were discovered in a rice paddy near the capital in 2003.
But the first "invasion" of the Procambarus species came only four years later during the 2007 summer rainy season, when the crayfish, which are sold to impoverished locals as a cheap source of protein, began cropping up for sale on markets.
Today they are found in rice paddies, rivers, lakes and swamps in eight of the country's 22 regions, mainly in the central high plains, where Antananarivo, the capital, is situated.
"Our seven indigenous crayfish species are directly threatened by these voracious non-endemic species," Professor Noromalala Raminosoa, also of the capital's university, told a press conference last week.
Raminsoa said all types of Procambarus are carriers of the crayfish disease, which nearly wiped out European crayfish in former times.
"If nothing is done to stop them these crayfish will become a national threat," she warned.
Apart from the threat to biodiversity, the crayfish are also devouring young rice plants and attacking small fish bred in rice paddies.
Madagascar's rice farmers use their paddies as mini-fish farms to supplement their diet -- and their income -- with small carp and tilapia.
Local daily Midi Madagasikara quoted a farmer from a small village on the outskirts of Antananarivo as saying his catch of tilapia had fallen by about 75 per cent since the crayfish appeared.
The crayfish "will eat any plant matter, including rice. In fact, they'll eat any biological matter," the biologists warned.
They also reproduce at an explosive rate, producing up to 400 eggs in 40 days during the warm rainy season.
In 2003, German scientists proved that the marmorkrebs could clone itself. Although the crayfish also reproduced sexually, females were able to lay eggs which hatched without being fertilized.
Known as parthenogenisis, this type of unisex reproduction is effectively a form of natural cloning.
Biologists here fear that if the crayfish continue to gain new ground the impact on the environment of this ecologically sensitive island, which is home to tens of thousands of plants and animals found nowhere else, could be disastrous.
Working with Conservation International, the university has launched a campaign across areas within a 200-kilometer radius of the capital. Using pictorial placards, they warn people against the dangers of the pest, known locally as orana vahiny.
"We get diarrhea after eating them," one farmer said. "Even the pigs won't eat them."
Rice farmers have also grouped together and have began fishing out and burning the crayfish en masse.
Meanwhile, at bush taxi ranks on roads leading out of the capital, volunteers are checking passengers' baggage to ensure that plateau dwellers are not carrying the crayfish to give as presents to relatives in other regions.
Voracious Self-Cloning Crayfish Invades Ecologically Sensitive Madagascar
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