The Greenbriar Ghost

In the movies and on television, ghosts often have a mission. They want the living to avenge their death or find their murderer or bring some sort of closure to their life on earth. In movies such as A Stir of Echoes and The Sixth Sense, the spirits of the living that were murdered assist the living in finding their killer. In life, this is not a common thing. In fact, this has only happened once that has been recorded and documented. The only known case in the US where the ghost of a victim is thought to have helped expose and convict the murderer is the case of the Greenbriar Ghost.

Elva Zona Heaster Shue was married to a man named Erasmus Trout Shue in 1886. Shortly after, a young boy found Zona’ body on the floor of the house. A doctor was called, but couldn’t investigate her death because Erasmus had moved the body and redressed her in her best dress. He also wouldn’t let the body go and clung to her sobbing and wailing like a child. The doctor said that Zona died of an “everlasting faint” and left well enough alone.

Zona’s mother, Mary Heaster, wasn’t happy to leave well enough alone. She prayed for God to help her avenge her daughter’s death. God did help her. He sent Zona’s ghost. Zona came to her mother at night and described in detail how her husband had been violent and abusive and how he had killed her in the heat of one of his blind furies when she had failed to prepare the dinner he wanted. Zona told her mother that he had broken her neck. Mrs. Heaster urged the prosecutor to investigate based on the information her daughter had given her. Zona’s body was exhumed and autopsy revealed that Zona had died of a broken neck. Shue was convicted and imprisoned for life. The ghost’s testimony was used as evidence in court.

So in this case, the movies are right. Ghosts can come back and work with the living to convict their murderer. I wish there were more cases like this. People might be more reluctant to beat their wives if they knew that their wives would come back for them in the afterlife.

On a side note,  Zona's sad story has become so popular it is now being made into a musical.


Sharon Day said…
Oh boy, up to that last line, I was thinking...why isn't this a movie? Hmm... Musical? Really? Neat story--so amazing!
Anonymous said…
i remember seeing a similar story on tv. a murdered woman's spirit possessed the body of a friend she had work with. the dead woman spoke through her friend and communicated her murder to the friend's husband. the couple went to the police and explained this strange occurence and gave the police information that led to the evidence they needed to convict the killer. amazing stuff!
it may have been on unsolved mysteries, but i'm not sure.
Jessica Penot said…
I have to watch more unsolved mysteries. They always have to most interesting stories on that show.
Nate said…
Wow - interesting case! Did they ask Zona to take the stand, or did they just accept the testimony from her mom? Just kidding :)

The subject of psi and the legal system is fascinating to me. For example, if a psychic helps the authorities find the body of a murder victim, it means one of three things: 1)The psychic is involved in the murder 2)The psychic is lucky 3)They psychic is psychic. If you can rule out the first two possibilities, you have something VERY interesting.

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