The Ghost Who Solved Her Own Murder

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Very little is recorded of the life of Elva Zona Heaster. Born in Greenbrier County, and raised near Richlands, West Virginia, not much else is known about her. Even the exact date of her birth is uncertain (though it is speculated to be around the year 1873). But what is remembered of Heaster is that in October 1896, she met a man named Erasmus Stribbling Trout Shue. The two fell in love and were soon married. However, three months later their romance was cut short when Zona was found dead in their home. An autopsy was performed and ruled that she passed of natural causes. Her husband and family mourned her and it almost seemed as though that would be the end of the tragically short and uneventful life of Elva Heaster. That all changed when a witness came forward, refuting the possibility of a natural death. Instead, claiming the direct opposite. That it was a murder committed by none other than Heaster’s beloved husband. And who was it that made such wild and bold claims? Elva Heaster herself!

Heaster’s mother, Mary Jane Heaster, never took a liking to Shue. The depth of her daughter’s love for her husband did nothing to alleviate the distrust that Mary Jane felt towards her son-in-law. Upon discovering the news of her daughter’s death, Mary Jane immediately began to entertain the possibility that Shue was involved. These suspicions were soon confirmed, told to her directly by her deceased daughter.  In the four weeks following Heaster’s death and burial, the ghost of Heaster manifested, visiting her mother in the night. In these visitations, Heaster explained to her mother what a violent and cruel man Shue was. Heaster informed her mother that the actual reason she died was because Shue had broken her neck. To prove the validity of this the ghost of Heaster demonstrated the capability of turning her head around until it was facing backward.  This proof was enough to inspire Mary Jane to renew her efforts advocating justice for her daughter. Heaster’s body was exhumed and another autopsy was performed to determine that the physical trauma she had experienced exceeded those of natural causes.

Shue was arrested and charged with killing his wife. During the trial, both sides attempted to use the visitation of the ghost to benefit their case. The prosecution, to prove the validity of Mary Jane’s testimony. Her story was unwavering, to the point it seemed almost impossible to be fabricated. And the defense, to prove that the key witness in the case, the deceased’s grieving mother, was prone to what they believed to be delusions. However, thanks to Mary Jane Heaster’s testimony, Shue was found guilty of the murder of his wife. Thanks to the evidence provided by Heaster’s spirit, her murderer was put behind bars.  Thus solving, and administering justice for her own murder.  Again, very little is recorded of the life of Elva Zona Heaster. But of her death? That is a different matter entirely.

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