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The Curious Murder of Zona Shue: The Greenbrier Ghost

Zona appeared after death to make sure her husband wouldn’t get away with murder

Heather Monroe
7 min readFeb 15, 2020


Zona and Trout Shue, ca 1896, Public Domain Image

Ghosts are typically content to remain the stuff of urban legends. They hardly leave us with evidence of their existence, or their previous lives. One spirit, though, the ghost of Zona Shue, gave an entire testimony used in court to help bring her killer to justice.

In the summer of 1896, Erasmus Stribbling Shue moved from Droop Mountain in Pocahontas County, Virginia, to the sleepy village of Livesay’s Mill in Greenbrier County. Erasmus was a tall, muscular man and decidedly handsome. He accepted a job at James Crookshank’s blacksmith shop. He often introduced himself as Edward, but everybody called him Trout.

Shortly after his arrival, Trout met a farmer’s daughter named Elva Zona Heaster. Zona was instantly smitten with Trout, and he with her. They courted for a short while and were married at the Methodist Church on October 20, 1896. They appeared to have a happy marriage, but no one knew what went on behind closed doors.


On January 23, 1897, Trout had a went the home of Martha Jones, known better as Aunt Martha. He asked if her son, Anderson Jones, could go to his house to do chores, and see if Zona needed anything from the store since she was feeling sick. Once inside, the child was horrified to find twenty-three-year-old Zona Shue’s lifeless body at the foot of the stairs. She lay face down, one outstretched arm, and legs straight. Her other arm was tucked beneath her chest, and her head tilted slightly.

Victorian custom dictated that female family and friends wash and dress the deceased. But, by the time Dr. JM Knapp arrived, Trout already prepared Zona for her funeral. He dressed her in a long gown with a high collar. He adorned her neck with a scarf that didn’t go, but he insisted it was her favorite.

Dr. Knapp conducted a post mortem that was more for show than for facts. Trout was oddly overcome with grief; openly wailing was uncharacteristic of the stoic…



Heather Monroe

Welcome readers! Heather Monroe is a genealogist and writer who resides in California with her partner and their nine children. •True Crime• History• Memoir•