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A state historic marker near the Sam Black Church exit of Interstate 64 in West Virginia commemorates the ‘‘only known case in which testimony from a ghost helped to convict a murderer.’’ The victim lies about five miles away beneath a tombstone which reads ‘‘In memory of Zona Heaster Shue, Greenbrier Ghost, 1876–1897.’’ About four miles from the historic marker, the log cabin where Zona Heaster Shue’s body was found still stands.

The young woman died mysteriously two months after her marriage to Edward Shue. Her death was presumed natural until her spirit appeared in a dream to her mother, Mary, accusing her husband of murder. Mary Heaster said that her daughter appeared at her bedside (in the dress she died in) four times to tell her how Edward had come home from his work as a blacksmith and in a fit of rage had broken her neck with his hands. An examination of the exhumed body verified the ghost’s tale. Edward Shue was found guilty of murder and sentenced to the state prison at Moundsville where he died eight years later.

The Greenbrier County Courthouse where Edward Shue was tried is there today, and the murder trial records carry the words of the Greenbrier Ghost as they were repeated in the trial testimony of her mother. This ghost story is one of the best-known in West Virginia, and at least two books on the Greenbrier Ghost have been written.

This Article was written by Dennis J. Deitz

Last Revised on October 28, 2019


Deitz, Dennis J. The Greenbrier Ghost and Other Strange Stories. South Charleston: Mountain Memories Books, 1990.

Lyle, Katie Letcher. The Man Who Wanted Seven Wives: The Greenbrier Ghost and the Famous Murder Mystery of 1897. Charleston WV: Quarrier Press, 1984.

Cite This Article

Deitz, Dennis J. "Greenbrier Ghost." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 28 October 2019. Web. 20 July 2024.


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