In the 1820s, Oliver Vermillion was a wealthy resident of Scott County, Virginia, who lived in Thompson’s Ford in Nicklesville. Vermillion was a wealthy, established livestock baron who’d originally came from Russell County, Virginia. The community believed Vermillion carried his wealth on him at all times.
Someone stopped to see him one day and he wasn’t there. Neighbors noticed it had been several days since they’d spoken with him, but everyone assumed he’d left to purchase cattle elsewhere. He’d left with no notice several times before.
Years eventually passed and no one had any idea what happened to Vermillion. Community members noticed that one particular neighbor had mysteriously come into a great deal of money. He was already an established individual, but the amount of money he had was considerably more than usual. He was suspected of doing something to Vermillion, but no one had proof to back any suspicion.
Oliver Vermillion was eventually forgotten by most. Several decades passed and a new family moved into Vermillion’s house. The wife of the owner was out one day and heard the chickens on the hillside. They were particularly loud with no reason.
The noise continued and she crept up the hill to investigate their cackling. She came to a cluster of brush and pulled the foliage aside. She found a small cave. She started to enter the cave, but stopped when she noticed a human skeleton at the entrance.
Neighbors came and eventually the authorities arrived. It was confirmed that the bones belonged to Oliver Vermillion. Residents of the Copper Creek area held onto a superstition that if a murderer touched the bones of his or her victim, the bones would bleed.
The Sheriff issued a blanket summons to gather everyone who’d been at least 15 at the time of the disappearance. However, this was an event and many people showed up just to watch. The bones were put on display and all those summoned had to touch the bones somewhere. Then, a deputy inspected the remains for blood.
Eventually, the man who’d been suspected 30 years earlier showed up. The crowd watched as he approached the table and reached out. He was visibly shaken, more so than he should have been. He held the bone a moment and dropped it, but the bone did not bleed after he handled it. There was no way to convict him.
It seemed he’d gotten away with murder, but too many people had watched his guilty display towards the remains. Customers eventually stopped visiting his store and he had to leave the area.