Zona Shue the Greenbrier Ghost
Her name was Zona Shue she was buried in what is now known as Soule Chapel Methodist Cemetery located in West Virginia. How she died initially was a bit of a mystery, until her restless spirit set things right. Her case is the only known testimony accepted by that of a ghost sentencing a murderer to prison.
Zona was born back in 1873 in Greenbrier Country, West Virginia. The area now has a population of around 36,000 people. Zona was raised near the area of Richlands, she later gave birth to a child out of wedlock in 1895. On October of 1896 she met up with a traveler named Edward Stribbling Trout Shue.
Edward was a bit of a drifter who wandered between towns searching for whatever work he could get. His profession by trade was that of a blacksmith. He did find work within the area, at a shop owned by James Crookshanks.
At some point, both Zona and Edwards crossed paths and they fell for one another. Later, they decided to get married. Despite the objection by Zona’s mother, Mary Jane Heaster didn’t get off with the right foot with Edward from the start.
Both Edward and Zona were passionately in love with one another, however on January 23rd of 1897 the gruesome discovery of Zona’s body was found by a young boy—who wandered over to the house on an errand. It seems that Edward strangled Zona out of a violent rage.
This same boy discovered Zona’s body laying at the bottom of the stairs. Her feet were together along with one hand on her stomach. The boy then fetched local doctor who also was the coroner named George W. Knapp. Time had passed at least around an hour. By the time the good doctor arrived Zona had already been moved and dressed in the bedroom.
This was an unusual practice during this period, as usually a local woman would take over the task of this. Conveniently, Edward covered the bruising on Zona’s neck by dressing her with a collared high-neck dress also fashioned with a stiff collar. Edward remained by Zona’s body while Dr. Knapp examined her. The doctor noted Edward’s grief however he did find some bruising on her neck. While he reached further to inspect her, Edward reacted violently towards him. The doctor then left the home.
First the cause of death was ruled as “everlasting faint” however this was changed later to “childbirth”. Doctor Knapp treated her for female troubles for several weeks before her death. It is not known if Zona was pregnant or not before her death.
During the wake and during the funeral further suspicions about Edward were apparent. Edward then kept everyone away from the coffin while he placed a pillow on the side of Zona’s head. He then rolled a sheet on the other side of her head. Later, he tired a scarf around her neck stating this was her favorite.
Mary Jane Heaster was completely convinced that her son-in-law did in fact murder her daughter. When the wake was over she removed the sheet that Edward placed inside the coffin even attempting to return it to him.
He refused it and she noticed it had an odor about it. After washing it, she noticed it turned red in the wash basin. The stain wouldn’t come out. This was a sign that something was indeed wrong. As time passed around four weeks later she had a dream after praying about her daughter hoping that justice would prevail and that she would learn the truth of things.
What Mary Jane Heaster learned truly saddened her. In the dream, her daughter admitted that Edward often abused her. He had killed her from not cooking any meat in his evening dinner. He broke her neck and Zona’s ghost proved this by twisting her head around—with her neck completely turned backwards.
This would be a series of events haunting this situation. The first appearance was described as a bright light gradually taking form and filling the room with a cold chill in the air. She visited her mother four different times trying to reach out to her from beyond the grave.
As things turned out eventually an autopsy happened on March 9th of 1897 which lasted three hours. It was discovered that Zona’s neck was indeed broken, her windpipe was mashed. From this evidence and the testimony of Zona’s mother, Edward Shue was then arrested and charged with the murder of his wife. The trial began on June 22 of 1897.
The judge found it difficult to throw out the testimony made by her mother in regards to the ghostly visitation and on July 11th Edward was thereby sentenced to life in prison. At one point, a lynch mob was even formed yearning to hang Edward for his crime. The mob was disbanded by the deputy sheriff before anything happened and several of the instigators were arrested.