On this day, Jan. 23, 1897, Elva Zona Heaster was found dead in Greenbrier County, W.Va., leading to the case of the "Greenbrier Ghost" and perhaps the only trial in United States history where evidence from a ghost helped secure a conviction. Heaster's mother suspected that her son-in-law, Erasmus Shue, was behind her daughter's death, saying "The devil has killed her."

Mrs. Heaster told prosecutors that her daughter's ghost appeared to her at night to say that Shue had broken her neck, and turned her head completely around.

Prosecutors exhumed the body. The neck had indeed been broken and her windpipe smashed.

At trial, a defense attorney challenged the mother about her visions, but the tactic backfired. Shue was convicted and died in prison from an unknown illness in 1900.

Scott McCabe