Monday, October 24, 2016

THE LEGEND OF THE GREENBRIAR COUNTY GHOST

On January 23, 1897, Edward Shue sent a young boy to his house on an errand. When the arrived, he found the body of Zona Heaster Shue. She was lying at the foot of the stairs, stretched out, feet together, one hand on her stomach. The boy ran home to tell his mother, who summoned the local doctor/coroner.

By the time the doctor arrived, Edward had moved Zona's body to the upstairs bedroom and placed it on the bed. He had changed her clothes to a stiff-collared, high-necked dress and draped a veil over her face. His actions were very unusual because, at that time, it was customary for local women to wash and dress a lady's body after death. The doctor briefly examined the body and left. He listed the cause of death as an "everlasting faint" and Zona was promptly buried.

According to local legend, four weeks after the funeral Zona appeared to her mother, Mary Jane Heaster, and said her husband, Edward, had killed her. Zona returned to her mother over the course of four nights to repeatedly describe her murder. She said Edward broke her neck. The ghost turned her head around until it faced backward to demonstrate. At Mrs. Heaster's insistence, Zona's body was exhumed. An autopsy verified the ghost's account was accurate, and Edward Shue was arrested for the murder of his wife.

During the trial, the prosecutor stuck to the facts and skirted around the key witness (Zona's mother) testimony regarding the appearance of her daughter's ghost, fearing it would make her appear unreliable. The defense, however, pounced on the issue hoping to prove Mrs. Heaster was indeed unreliable--if not mad. But Zona's mother did not waver in her account, and the tactic backfired. The jury believed her, as did the community.

Edward Shue was convicted of murder and sentenced to life. He died in prison on March 13, 1900. This history-making trial is the only known case in which testimony from a ghost helped convict a murderer.

Mrs. Heaster never recanted her story. Zona's ghost never appeared again.

Do you believe her daughter's ghost appeared to Mrs. Heaster, or do you think a mother's love and instinct was the driving force behind gaining justice for Zona?


8 comments:

  1. I'm sorry, but I'm confused. Who is William? I don't believe in ghosts, but my beliefs don't dictate what other people can see and know. Is this Greenbriar the one in West Virginia?

    Love,
    Janie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, no. sorry! Typo. It should have said Edward. No idea who William is or where that came from. Thanks. (Believe it or not, I did proof this.) Yes, it is Greenbriar, WV.

      Delete
  2. I think I heard about this one. Of course in our jaded age, we know the account of her death sounds very suspicious.

    As for ghosts, I have never seen one. But various family members have. My niece and nephew claim to have seen the ghost of their great-grandmother. And that she made one of their toys work. When the toy did not have its batteries in it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it was pretty obvious. I do believe in ghosts, but in this case I wondered if the mother had noticed the inconsistencies and realized Edward had killed her daughter. But for her to be so exact about the cause of death was interesting.

      Delete
  3. I believe it!!! Wow, that's pretty powerful. And I'm stuck on the words "everlasting faint." "Everlasting?" What does that even mean in the context of a faint? Even the medical doctors were flowery in their descriptions of things back then!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought that was hilarious. One death certificate's "cause of death" I read years ago still sticks with me: "Went to bed fine; woke up dead."

      Delete
  4. I'm going with the ghost. Even if it's not true, it's an awesome story. And what's with the "everlasting faint"? That's hilarious in a macabre way.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I agree Tamara. A ghost makes for a much better story. Besides if the judge and jury believed the testimony of a ghost, who am I to disagree.

    ReplyDelete