I absolutely love reading about urban legends and ghost stories that have taken place in my home state! I have a pretty big collection of books, and a majority of the books that make up my shelves are ghost stories, some of which are books that have these accounts in them. Here are three of the best and strangest urban legends that have occurred in West Virginia.
1) The Flatwoods Monster hails from Flatwoods, located in Braxton County, West Virginia.
The one and only sighting of the Flatwoods Monster occurred on September 12, 1952. It has been determined that the monster was at the least 7 feet tall, and had a black body, and a black face which seemed to glow.
While there were various accounts of what people thought the monster looked like, it was always described as not having a human shape. The witnesses also describe the monster to be floating above the ground slightly.
Seven people went to investigate a bright object that crossed the sky and landed on a farm in Flatwoods. The group went to the site where they thought the object landed. When they arrived, they allegedly saw a large "ball of fire" to their right, and they also described a very strong scented mist that made their eyes and noses burn. They reported seeing two small lights to the left of the object and when they pointed a flashlight at it, the Flatwoods Monster appeared. The monster supposedly let out a shriek and started towards the group, to which they all scattered.
2) The Mothman is a winged bird/man hybrid creature that hails from Point Pleasant, WV.
The first known sighting of the Mothman is November 12, 1966, by five men who were digging a grave at a cemetery. The men allegedly saw a creature fly low from the surrounding trees over top of their heads. Just days later, two couples told police that they saw a big creature who had glowing red eyes. They supposedly saw the creature just outside of the town in an area called the "TNT Area," which is the site of a former WWII munitions plant. The following few days, there were multiple sightings. There were around 100 sightings of the Mothman, and undoubtedly many more that were too afraid to report their sighting.
3) Zona Heaster Shue, also known as the Greenbrier Ghost, is a lady that was murdered in 1897.
Originally, her death was claimed to be because of natural causes. Zona's husband, Edward Shue, sent a young boy to run some errands and the young boy discovered Zona's dead body lying at the bottom of their stairs. When the doctor arrived, Edward Shue had carried his wife's body upstairs to a bedroom and had dressed her in a high-necked dress with a very stiff collar with a veil over her face and laid her on the bed.
Because Zona was obviously dead, the doctor just briefly examined the body, noting bruising on her neck. When the doctor tried to look closer, Shue snapped at him and so he stopped the examination and left the house.
Zona was buried in the local cemetary. During the wake of his wife, Edward Shue would at first be extremely sad and then would be extremely energetic. He wouldn't let anyone close to his wife's coffin. He also tied a scarf to her neck and claimed that it had been his wife's favorite scarf.
Pictured here is Mary Jane Heaster, Zona Shue's mother. Heaster was certain that Edward Shue had killed her daughter.
She had removed a sheet that was inside of her daughter's coffin and noticed that it had a very strange scent to it, so she washed it. The water in the washing basin turned red when she dropped the sheet in. The sheet reportedly turned pink and the water then cleared up. Heaster believed that this was a sign that her daughter had been murdered. So she began to pray that Zona would return to her and explain what happened.
Just as her mother had wished, Zona reportedly returned to her mother four weeks after her funeral. She explained that her husband was a very abusive man.
Zona said that Edward had come home and thought that she hadn't cooked any meat for dinner, so he snapped her neck. Zona allegedly turned her neck all the way around exorcist style to show her mother.
Heaster then went to the local prosecutor and explained everything that had happened. Not only had her mother expressed her concern of Zona being murdered, but so had several other locals. The prosecutor talked to the doctor who admitted to not having done a full examination of the body. This was enough for the prosecutor to call for Zona's body to be exhumed. The autopsy indicated that Zona's neck had definitely been broken and her windpipe had been crushed. Her ligaments were torn and had ruptured also. With this as evidence, Edward Shue was then arrested and charged with the murder of his wife. As the white sign indicated, this is the only known case in which a testimony from a ghost helped convict a murderer.
Just a few years ago, I was at the West Virginia Book Festival (my all-time favorite festival in West Virginia) when I came across a booth about the Flatwoods Monster. I had never even heard of it, and it had been in my home state all this time! I picked up every postcard that they had and listened to the lady at the booth tell me the story of the monster, and I have never forgotten about it. These urban legends are so fascinating to me!
I know that I didn’t list them all, so tell me, what is your favorite West Virginia urban legend? Comment below!