It has long been thought that, if ghosts are real, then they might be here for some reason. Perhaps it is because of some extreme emotional trauma that they remain tethered to this plane or maybe they had some unfinished business or un-obtained goal in life that keeps them tied to this world in death. Most of the time we cannot possibly know what these entities want and so they linger here with their inscrutable errands, trapped amongst the living, perhaps for all eternity. Yet on some occasions the ghosts seem to be successful in achieving what they desire, and here are some odd and curious cases of ghosts who have righted wrongs against them in life and even solved their own murders from beyond the grave.
A very odd case of a ghost supposedly coming forward to solve their own murder is the eerie case of 47-year-old Teresita Basa, a respiratory therapist who was in 1977 working at a place called Edgewater Hospital, in Chicago, Illinois. She was mostly a very normal woman who did her job well and was well-liked by her co-workers, and no one would have possibly predicted the horrific events that were to unfold for her. On the evening of February 21, 1977, firefighters were called to Terasita’s apartment complex on a fire call, and the call led them right up to her own apartment. When the firefighters gained entry into the room they were horrified to find that the tenant, Teresita Basa, was naked, badly burned, and covered with a mattress, but rather than the fire it was mostly surmised that the large kitchen knife sticking out of her chest was what had probably killed her.
The case was immediately considered a murder, and an investigation was launched that quickly ran into dead end after dead end. There were no suspects, no evidence, and no clues except for a cryptic note scrawled in a journal, written by Terasita and merely reading “Get tickets for A.S.,” which may or may not have had anything to do with anything. No one knew, and other than that there was absolutely nothing to go on and the case quickly went ice cold. That is, until a very bizarre and unlikely lead came forward, which would propel the case into the annals of the strange.
One day out of the blue, nearly 6 months after the murder, two of the lead investigators on the case, Detective Joe Stachula and Detective Lee Epplen, were approached by a man named Dr. Jose Chua, who it would turn out had a rather odd story to tell indeed. Chua told them that his wife was having bizarre episodes in which she would go into a trance and become possessed by none other than the spirit of Teresita Basa, and that the dead woman had been talking through her at these times. The bemused detectives were understandably quite skeptical of all of this, but their attention was piqued when Chua said that the voice coming from his wife’s mouth claimed to know who the killer was, a man Teresita had known named Allan Showery. Considering that the name matched the initials found in the diary, the detectives decided to hear Chua out, and things only got stranger from there.
The supposed spirit of Teresita Basa had allegedly given a lot of details that no one could have known, in particular the information that Showery had been to Terasita’s apartment on many occasions, in fact on the very evening she was killed in order to fix her television, and had also stolen jewelry from her that same night, which had been given to her mother by her father after a trip to France, after which the thief had then given as a gift to his girlfriend. The voice had even named names and telephone numbers, and when the detectives checked up on this it turned out to be completely accurate. Now Chua had their full attention, and with a little digging they amazingly found that there was in fact a man named Allan Showery working at the very same hospital where Teresita had worked, and they brought him in for questioning as a possible person of interest.
During the interrogation Showery admitted to having been at Teresita’s apartment on the night of the murder, but he claimed he had only fixed her TV and then gone home, odd considering the “possessed” wife of Chua had eerily said that he had been there for that very purpose. The detectives were getting a very bizarre vibe from all of this, and decided to question Showery’s girlfriend, who told them that he not only did not know the first thing about fixing TVs, but that he had also recently given her some jewelry, which just so happened to exactly match the description that Teresita’s purported spirit had given. When Teresita’s family members were called to the station to look at the jewelry for themselves they confirmed that it was the same as what had been stolen, and by all appearances it seemed that the voice of the very dead Teresita had actually given the first solid lead in months, on her own murder.
When confronted by all of this damning evidence, Showery ended up confessing to the murder to the dumbfounded detectives, saying that he had gone over there on the pretense of fixing the TV in order to kill her so that he could steal the jewelry. He would plead guilty in court as well, earning him convictions for murder, arson, and aggravated assault, although he would only end up serving 5 years of a total sentence of 22 years in prison, all supposedly because of Teresita’s ghost. The case has been met with some skepticism over the years, as it turns out Chua’s wife also had actually worked at the same hospital, and may have picked this information up from mutual friends and co-workers, but no one really knows, and if it is true then the murder of Teresita Basa may just well be the first time a case was solved by the spirit of the murder victim possessing the living to point the finger at her killer.
Speaking of firsts, how about that time when a ghost’s testimony was actually allowed in a court of law? Wait, what? For this one we have to go back to the year 1897, in the U.S. state of West Virginia. In January of that year, a black smith named Erasmus Shue sent the son of a neighbor to visit his wife, Elva Shue, to see if she needed any groceries, and while he was there made a rather gruesome discovery. There at the foot of the stairs was Elva’s lifeless body, set into a strange position with her legs together, one arm flung out while the other lie across her chest, and her head at an awkward angle. A doctor who examined the body came to the conclusion that there was no foul play involved and that she had died from complications of pregnancy, despite the fact that her husband was suspiciously unwilling to allow anyone to examine the body too closely, especially the head and neck, going so far as to have it covered during the funeral for reasons no one knew. Despite this apparent oddness, that was the end of it at the time, at least it was for those who were still alive.
Not long after the case was dropped and the death deemed natural, Elva’s mother, Mary Jane Heaster, began to have extremely vivid recurring dreams in which her dead daughter appeared to her and told her that she had been killed by her abusive husband when he had flown into a rage over an unsatisfactory dinner, her neck broken and twisted. Each time the ghost appeared she would punctuate it by creepily spinning her head all the way around and then walking away to vanish as her freakishly twisted around head stared back over her shoulders at the mother. These dreams were described as being incredibly potent and lifelike, unlike anything Heaster had ever experienced, and she began to wonder if her dead daughter really was appearing to her and trying to tell her something. She then approached a policeman named John Preston, who believed it all enough to have the body exhumed where it was found, surprise surprise, that her neck indeed had been forcefully snapped, of which he would say:
On the throat were the marks of fingers indicating that she had been choken [sic]; that the neck was dislocated between the first and second vertebrae. The ligaments were torn and ruptured. The windpipe had been crushed at a point in front of the neck.
This would have been an obvious reason for why Erasmus had gone to such great lengths to make sure no one could properly get a good look at the body, and it was all highly suspicious indeed. Preston dug a bit into Erasmus Shue’s past and found that, although his public face was that of a respectable and well-liked man, he had been married several times before and each of these women claimed that he had been very violent and abusive. Although there was nothing to link him directly to the murder and no witnesses to the crime, this was still enough to get Shue arrested and put on trial for the murder of his wife, and here things would get even weirder still.
During the trial, Heaster took the stand, and although she had been told by Preston not to make any mention of her supernatural experiences, Shue’s defense lawyer relentlessly grilled her on the ghost of her daughter, seeing this as a way to make her look crazy and get her testimony thrown out. The defense’s tactic worked, in the sense that Heaster came out with her stories of being visited by the ghost of her daughter and the information she had gleaned from these visitations, but rather than paint her as a rambling crazy lady the jury actually believed it all, accepted her testimony, and Shue would be found guilty of the murder of Elva Shue, receiving a life sentence that would be cut short by his death by pneumonia. Although it is unclear just how much effect Heaster’s testimony actually had on this decision, it is amazing that it was officially accepted at all, and to this day a plaque in Elva’s honor reads “the only known case in which testimony from [a] ghost helped convict a murderer.”
Similarly, there is another case of a ghostly daughter reaching out to her living mother in order to solve her own murder. It begins in Polstead, Suffolk, England in the year 1827, when a young woman named Maria Marten decided to elope with her lover, William Corder. They agreed to meet one evening at a town landmark called the Red Barn, but Maria sort of vanished after that. Corder frequently mailed the girl’s family from Ipswich, where they had been planning to move to, and told them that she was doing fine, but no one actually heard from her, and it would not be long before the reason why was discovered.
During the time of these letters everyone assumed that Maria was still alive, and that she had gone through with her plans to elope with Corder and move to Ipswich, but the young woman’s mother began to have very strange dreams that would convince her that something was not quite right. In these dreams she saw her daughter murdered by Corder and her body buried right there at the barn, and she became obsessed with the idea that Maria was reaching out to her from beyond the grave to tell her something. She began telling her husband about these surreal dreams, and he decided to have the barn checked out, more to put her mind at ease than any expectation of actually finding anything. Amazingly, Maria’s body was found right where the dreams had said it would be, and William was arrested and found guilty of her murder and later hanged for it, in a case that would become infamous and known as “The Red Barn Murder.”
In some cases, the vengeful ghost has appeared to multiple witnesses, as is the case with Royal Flying Corps Lieutenant Desmond Arthur, who in 1913 was killed in a tragic crash near the former Angus airfield in Montrose, Scotland. Not long after this, the base became ground zero for all manner of paranormal activity, such as anomalous noises, roving cold spots, the frequent appearance of an apparition that looked like an airman, radios that would play by themselves even without a power source, and even a ghost plane that would fly over only to vanish into thin air. On some occasions the phantom airman was said to approach people at the base and try to speak to them, but no sound would come out, and it was soon realized that this was the ghost of Desmond Arthur, and that he was perhaps lingering around the base for some unknown reason.
Interestingly, just before the haunting began there had been launched an inquiry into the cause of the dead airman’s crash, which had found that the cause had been recklessness, a scandalous ruling that was an embarrassment and tarnished Arthur’s reputation, and which seemed to make the ghostly activity ever more intense. The personnel at the base, and particularly those who had knew him in life, became convinced that the ghost of Arthur was trying to tell them something, and with their pleas a new investigation would be opened into his crash, this time with the Court of Enquiry finding that he was not to blame for the accident and therefore exonerating him. According to the tale, Arthur appeared one more time on Christmas Eve of 1916, this time before his three closest friends at the base who had gotten the new inquiry pushed though, after which he allegedly smiled at each of them and then vanished, this time for good. Although Arthur’s ghost is long gone, apparently appeased now that his name was cleared, there are still many tales of other airmen ghosts at the Montrose base, and indeed it has become rather known as one of the most haunted places in Scotland. Maybe these ghosts too will find their peace someday as well.
Is it possible for wandering ghosts to be chained to this plane of existence because of being kept here by some demon that haunted them in life sure as they haunt the world of the living now? If so, do they possess the ability to right these wrongs and allow themselves to pass on to wherever it is they go? Or is this all just coincidence, overactive imaginations, and lore? We may never know, but it is somewhat fulfilling to at least think that in some cases perhaps these restless spirits were able to exert themselves on the world from beyond the veil of death in order to find the peace and closure they were denied in life.