This week, for Halloween, we are taking a look at not a fan submitted story but one of my favorites. It’s very famous locally, and I live very close to Greenbrier. Some of you may have heard of it—it’s the story of the Greenbrier Ghost.
Back in 1896, a young beautiful woman of the age of 15 named Zona Heaster met a new man in town, Edward Shue. Edward was a tall handsome muscular man. When the two met, it was love at first sight.
Zona’s parents did not approve of the relationship due to Edward’s reputation. He divorced his first wife, and his second wife died in what was deemed to be an accident. Edward wasn’t having any of this, so he convinced Zona to run away with him and get married. The couple then settled into a nice home of their own. Everything was sounding pretty much perfect for Zona, right?
About two months after the couple married and settled in, Edward was working out of town. He sent a neighbor boy, Anderson Jones, to check on Zona. When the boy arrived, he found Zona dead at the bottom of the steps. Anderson went and got Edward for help. After arriving, Edward sent Anderson for a doctor. When Anderson arrived with the doctor, Edward had moved Zona upstairs to their bed and put her in a dress with a scarf around her neck. Not really thinking anything of it at the time, the doctor declared she had died of natural causes.
After an odd funeral where Edward wouldn’t leave his deceased wife’s side, Zona was buried in the family cemetery. After this, things began to get a bit weirder. Zona’s mother, Mary Heaster, claimed the ghost of Zona had begun visiting her. The spirit appeared to Mary four different times, each time revealing details only Zona would have known. On the final visit, Zona revealed to her mother how she had met her demise at the hands of her husband—that he had broken her neck. Then, he used the dress and scarves to hide his crime.
Mary was convinced by this ghost and immediately went to the sheriff. She somehow convinced him and some others to dig up and examine Zona’s body. When they did, it was immediately clear that the spirit was right! An autopsy was performed, which proved that she died of a broken neck.
After this, there was a short court battle, and Edward was convicted of her murder. He was sentenced to prison, where he died a few years later during an epidemic. This case became very famous locally because it’s one of the few cases where the testimony of a ghost helped solve a crime and convict a murderer.
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