In this article we will be taking a look at the Greenbrier ghost story from 1897, and the dreams that surfaced after Elva Zona Shue was found dead in her West Virginia home…
Mary Jane Heaster began having heartbreaking dreams a month after she buried her daughter, Elva Zona Shue, in 1897. In these dreams, Zona called out to her mother and told her that her death was not from natural causes – she had been murdered.
She pinned the blame on her husband – Erasmus (Edward) Stribbling Trout Shue. She claimed that the fickle man had lost his temper and ended her life because she had not managed to provide him any meat with his dinner.
He then apparently broke his wife’s neck.
The ghost of Zona demonstrated the injury in the dream – by turning her head around 180 degrees (Exorcist style!).
The heartbroken, and angry Mary Jane, went to the local prosecutor at once…but understandably, he did not really believe her ghostly dream story.
She was persistent though, and managed to get him to agree to exhume her daughter’s body and perform a thorough autopsy…
She was right – Zona was found to have a broken neck…she had been murdered.
Elva ‘Zona’ Heaster was born in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, in 1873. She had led a simple life right up to the point where she managed to get pregnant, out of wedlock, in 1895.
In those days this kind of thing was BAD news – nobody wanted to marry a ‘loose woman’ with poor morals, and a kid in tow.
However, she got lucky when a guy named Edward Stribbling Trout Shue moved into the area – he was looking for a new start in life, and didn’t really care that Zona had a child.
On October the 20th, 1896, the lovestruck pair were married…but Zona’s mother, Mary Jane, never really approved of Shue as a husband.
The couple seemed extremely happy in their new life – for three short months…
On January the 23rd, 1897, the body of Zona Heaster Shue was discovered at her home by a young boy running errands. She was found in a heap at the bottom of the stairs, as if she had tripped and fallen.
By the time the local doctor arrived at the house, Shue had moved his wife’s body upstairs to their bed, and had dressed her in a high-neck frock. When the doctor tried to examine the body he was continually interrupted by the sobbing Shue.
Whenever the doctor attempted to examine the head area of Zona’s body, Shue would suddenly cradle the head, and tell the doctor to leave them alone.
The doctor eventually listed her death as an ‘everlasting faint’ that was linked to childbirth…although he had no idea if the girl was indeed pregnant or not!
When Mary Heaster was finally able to convince the county prosecutor to reopen the case – she was already sure in her own mind that Edward Shue had killed her daughter.
The prosecutor did a thorough job of visiting all of Zona’s neighbors and friends in the area, and they all agreed with Mary Heaster’s claims of murder.
When the exhumation was set to take place, Edward was told he would have to be present…he then knew that the game was up, and he informed the prosecutor that he was about to be arrested.
Zona was found with a broken windpipe, and deep finger marks on her neck. Her vertebrae was dislocated and the ligaments torn.
Edward Stribbling Trout Shue collapsed in a heap – he knew the game was up, and he was arrested on the spot.
The later investigation found out that the mysterious Edward Stribbling Trout Shue had been married twice before he arrived in Greenbrier. His first wife had left him, due to the constant beatings he gave her…and his second wife died under mysterious circumstances.
Edward Shue was found guilty of murder on July the 11th, 1897, and sentenced to life imprisonment (he somehow managed to escape the death penalty). He was imprisoned at West Virginia State Prison where he died three years later.
If you have any thoughts or opinions on the Greenbrier ghost story, please leave them in the comment section below.