Anyone who has seriously researched that case with an open mind and listened to the tapes made during the exorcisms- which are more horrifyingly hair-raising in parts than anything many tens of million dollar spook movies can elicit- will consider outside forces of a very negative or evil nature may have been at work, even if only externally - attracted to the split personality schizoid girl.
Guest writer Phyllis Doyle kindly provides us with a ghost case that resulted in a trial well over a hundred years ago in the often very paranormally active state of West Virginia. Thank you, Phyllis, for this short but well-written, well-researched and intriguing piece on the remarkable Zona Shue story of justice seemingly secured from beyond the grave.
Throughout Appalachia country there are ghost stories that go way back in time. The American Revolutionary War, the Civil War, several mining disasters, and prior to all this, the Indian Wars between settlers and Native Americans left behind hundreds of lost souls throughout the land. It is a land haunted by those who never found their way back home. Greenbrier County, West Virginia, USA, is just one of the places that abound with the spirits of those who died tragically.
The story of Zona Heaster Shue, a young bride, married just three months when her body was found at the foot of the stairs in her two-story cabin, on January 23, 1897, is tragic and most unusual. There are differing stories as to where Zona was found.
Some say at the foot of the stairs, another says she was lying on the floor at the foot of her , and yet another says she was found in the dining room, and a trail of blood led from the front porch steps, through the house and to her body that was lying there stiff and cold.
Yet, regardless of which account is true, the fact remains that she was dead.
According to Dr. Knapp, Zona had died from heart failure. Zona's body was placed in a simple coffin and taken by wagon to her parents home, several miles away. During the ride to the parents home, the viewing of the body by family and friends and right up until Zona's coffin was sealed shut, Edward never left the head of the casket. Zona was buried in the Soule Chapel Church cemetery.
Zona's mother, Mary Jane Heaster, was devastated with the loss of her daughter and felt that something was dreadfully wrong about the way Zona died. She never liked Edward Shue and felt that there was more to be known about Zona's death.
A few weeks after the funeral, Mary found out what the nagging suspicion in her was. Zona's spirit began appearing to Mary at night, four nights in a row. The first time the spirit appeared, the room was filled with an eerie chill and a bright light came which then began to materialize into the daughter Mary knew. Zona communicated to her mother that Edward had choked her and pushed her down the stairs, killing her. To convince her mother that Edward had broken her neck, the spirit turned her head completely around. Well, Mary was convinced alright and went to visit John Alfred Preston, the local prosecutor, and told him her story. After several hours with Mary, Preston sent out deputies to interview Dr. Knapp and other people who had expressed suspicions about Zona's death.
An inquest jury was selected, the body was examined and an autopsy performed. Edward Shue was subpoenaed to attend the inquest and autopsy. He heatedly objected, but by law, had to be present.
Anderson found Zona's body. Badly shaken he ran back and told Edward, who immediately left for home. Anderson ran home to his mother who then fetched Dr. Knapp and told him what happened.
When Dr. Knapp got to the Shue home about an hour later, he saw that Edward had carried Zona to their room and placed her on the bed. He was crying, with his arms wrapped around her, cradling her head. The doctor noticed that Edward had dressed her in a dress with a high stiff neck and a large veil was wrapped around her neck, tied in a large bow under her chin. As Dr. Knapp examined the body, Edward would not leave and continued to cling to Zona's head.
As Shue awaited trial, investigations into his past showed that he was married twice before. His first wife divorced him for physical brutality and his second wife died unexpectedly and mysteriously.
During the trial, which began June 22, 1897, Preston tried to avoid the issue of Zona's ghost when her mother was sworn in as witness. However, the defense lawyer badgered Mrs. Heaster about Zona's ghost, hoping to discredit her. Unfortunately for the defense, Mrs. Heaster was not about to back down. She stood her ground and the jury believed her.
On July 11 the jury deliberated. Edward Shue was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison. When Edward was in jail awaiting transfer to prison, a lynch mob tried to break him out and hang him. The mob was disbanded. Edward Shue was transferred to the West Virginia State Penitentiary in Moundsville, where he died three years later from an epidemic outbreak.
"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 a ghost helped convict a murderer." ~ ~ ~