Just as the spirit had previously predicted, no one was ever indicted for the murder because no definitive proof that a murder had taken place was found during the lifetimes of the principles. Digging in the basement during the disturbances produced only some hair and bone fragments. One bone fragment appeared to be part of a skull. 56 years later, in 1904, a false wall in the basement collapsed revealing human bones along with a peddler’s tin box. The following statement appeared in the Boston Journal (A major newspaper in its day) on November 23, 1904:
The human skeleton had most of its skull intact, and it should be noted that the fragment of bone dug up in 1848 in the floor of the basement fitted exactly into a hole in the skull found behind the false wall in 1904.
Of special interest is the testimony (from Lewis’ pamphlet) of a nineteen year old girl named Lucretia Pulver who had been boarding with the John C. Bell family. This family rented, and apparently sublet rooms in the house during the time of the purported murder which had taken place five years before the Fox family moved in.
“A few days before the time when I first heard these noises, or any thing of this kind had ever occurred, a foot pedler called there, about two o’clock in the afternoon. Mrs. BELL told me that Mr. BELL tho’t they should not want to hire me any more, and that I might go home, but that if they wanted me any more, they would send for me. Mrs. Bell was going to Lock Berlin to stay that night. I wanted to buy some things of the pedler, but had no money with me, and he said he would call at our house the next morning and sell them to me. I never saw him after this.”
“About three days after this, they sent for me to come back and board with them and go to school. I accordingly came back, and went to school about a week; when she wanted I should stay out of school and do the housework, as she had got a couple of coats to fix over for her husband. She said that they were rather too large for him, and out of fashion, and she must alter them. These coats were ripped to pieces when I saw them.”
“I should think this pedler, of whom I have spoken, was about 30 years old. I heard him conversing with Mrs. Bell about his family: he told how many children he had, in answer to her inquiries. I do not recollect now how many he said he had. Mrs. Bell told me that he was an old acquaintance of theirs; that she had seen him several times before. “I did not know what to think of those noises which I heard. I did not know but what it might be rats, as Mrs. Bell said. I didn’t think it was anything supernatural.”
“At the time, their dog would sit under the bed room window, sometimes most all night, and howl; and this made me think that there was somebody about there that wanted to steal. Mr. and Mrs. Bell appeared to be very good folks, only they were rather quick tempered. I never had any difficulty with them during the time that I staid there. This pedler carried a trunk,–and a basket, I think, with vials of essence in it. He wore a black frock coat, and light colored pants. I am willing to swear to the above statement, if it is necessary.”
Lewis’ pamphlet’s was titled “A Report of the Mysterious Noises Heard in the House of John D. Fox, in Hydesville, Arcadia, Wayne County.” One paragraph in his introduction fairly well sums up the conclusions of the neighbors and other involved parties:
“One individual may easily be made the dupe of appearances and sounds, which to him are unaccountable; but when hundreds of intelligent people come up and certify, as in this case, their statements are entitled to our confidence. They all unite in saying that they have heard these noises, at different times, in this house; that they have made a long and thorough investigation in order to ascertain the cause, but are wholly unable to gain any satisfactory information,–that in their opinion it cannot be owing to chance, or produced by any human being through the agency of ventriloquism or deceptive sounds; and we are bound, by the confidence which we all have in each other in our worldly transactions, to place some degree of reliance in their representation.”
The particular poltergeist in the Fox’s home was unusual in that residents of the house who had lived there prior to the Foxes (but after the Bells) had reported seeing a ghost which may have later transformed itself into the rapping poltergeist. The ghost was described as follows by Jane Lap who lived there about a year before the Foxes moved into the house:
“The man stood facing me when I saw him. He did not speak, nor did I hear any noise at any time, like a person walking or moving about in the room. He had on grey pants, black frock coat and black cap. He was about middling size, I should think.”
The Weekman family that Jane lived with also reported unexplained raps. The Weekmans had rented the house for about a year and a half after the Bells moved out. They experienced a frightening incident in which their eight year old daughter woke up screaming because of what amounted to a ghostly molestation:
“She said that something had been moving around over her head and face,–that it was cold, and she did not know what it was. She said that she felt it all over her, but she appeared to be more alarmed at feeling it in her face.”