The Greenbrier Ghost is a name popularly given to the the alleged ghost of 23-year-old Elva Zona Heaster, who was found dead in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, on 23 January 1897. Her death was at first thought to have been due to natural causes, but her mother, Mary Jane Heaster, later claimed Elva had been murdered. How did she know this? She claimed no less than being told of the fact by her late daughter’s ghost!
Namely, Edward Shue (full name: Erasmus Stribbling Trout Shue), the deceased’s husband, had moved Evla’s body and dressed it for the funeral by the time the doctor and coroner arrived (this was something normally done by the women of the community). Due to the truly wretched state they found Edward to be in, they made only a very cursory examination of the body. Edward made sure his wife’s body always had a scarf around its neck and that its head was propped up, which meant the doctor and coroner only saw slight bruising on the neck. Edward also prevented anyone from examining the body too closely during the funeral.
However, as mentioned, Elva’s mother claimed her daughter’s ghost appeared to her in a dream afterwards, saying Edward was a cruel man who abused her and eventually broke her neck for refusing to cook him meat for dinner. Elva’s body was then exhumed (a very rare occurrence in West Virginia at that time), and it was determined that her neck had indeed been broken, together with her windpipe. Edward was brought to trial for murder on 22 June. Although he was a successful blacksmith and generally well-regarded in the town, where he had moved in relatively recently, examination of his past records showed criminal behavior as well as that he was abusive towards his previous two wives, one of whom died in mysterious circumstances.
While Edward’s lawyer tried to paint Elva’s mother as unreliable, and the judge tried to get the jury to discount the ghost’s testimony, Edward was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. He died in prison around three years later.