Greenbrier is a true ghost story about a young woman who was murdered in 1897 in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. They say her ghost returned from the grave to name her killer. This story is also known as “The Greenbrier Ghost”.
There was a young woman named Elva Zona Shue who lived in Greenbrier County in West Virginia. She was married to a man named Edward who worked as a blacksmith. They seemed very happy together, but Zona’s mother never liked Edward Shue and warned her daughter not to trust him.
One day, after they had been married only 3 months, Edward sent a young African-American boy named Andy Jones to his house on an errand. He was supposed to ask Zona if there was anything she needed from the store. The boy found Zona’s body lying on the floor at the bottom of the stairs. Her eyes were wide open and staring right at him. She was dead.
The boy ran home to tell his mother and she raised the alarm. Edward went home, carried his wife’s body up to the bedroom and dressed her in her Sunday best. When the coroner arrived an hour later, he found the dead woman wearing a stiff-collared dress that covered her neck and she had a veil over her face.
Edward was cradling his wife’s head and sobbing hysterically. When the coroner tried to take a closer look, Edward reacted so violently that the coroner gave up and left. He listed her cause of death as being due to “childbirth”. The strangest thing about it was that Zona had not even been pregnant.
When Zona’s mother found out her daughter was dead, she shouted, “The devil has killed her!”
During the funeral, Zona’s mother took a sheet from inside the coffin and brought it home. When she washed it in a basin, the water turned as red as blood. The old woman believed this was a sign that Zona had been murdered.
Every night for the next four weeks, Zona’s mother prayed that the truth about her daughter’s death would be revealed. She didn’t have long to wait. One night, the ghost of Zona appeared to her mother and told her exactly how she had died.
She said Edward was cruel and abusive to her. One day, he went too far. She told him she had no meat for his dinner and Edward flew into a rage. He attacked his wife and broke her neck. When she said this, the ghost slowly turned her head completely around at the neck.
The next morning, Zona’s mother went to the police and told them what she had seen. Although they were skeptical, they dug up Zona’s body again and performed a proper autopsy. When he heard the news, Edward began to get nervous and stressed-out. He wandered around the town saying, “They will not be able to prove I did it.”
The autopsy revealed that Zona’s neck had been broken and she had been strangled to death. On her throat, were the marks of fingers. Edward Shue was arrested and charged with murder.
When the police investigated his background, they found some suspicious facts. Edward had a violent temper. He had beaten his first wife severely and thrown her out of the house. His second wife had died mysteriously of a blow to the head.
As he sat in his jail cell, Edward was sure he would not be convicted of Zona’s murder. He told everyone who would listen that there was no evidence against him.
During the trial, Zona’s mother was called to testify on the stand. She told the jury how Zona’s ghost had appeared to her and revealed the name of her murderer. Nobody knows if the jury took her story seriously, but they did come back with a guilty verdict and Edward was sentenced to life in prison. He died a few years later in Moundsville Penitentiary.
Today, there is a sign on the highway near Greenbrier. It reads:
“Greenbrier Ghost – Interred in nearby cemetery is Zona Heaster Shue. Her death in 1897 was presumed natural until her spirit appeared to her mother to describe how she was killed by her husband Edward. Autopsy on the exhumed body verified the apparition’s account. Edward, found guilty of murder, was sentenced to the state prison. Only known case in which testimony from ghost helped convict a murderer.”