The mystery of the woman in black has been solved…mostly

The mystery of the woman in black has been solved…mostly

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The Woman in Black

WINCHESTER, Va, August 1, 2014 — After two months of social media frenzy, the journey of the mysterious woman in black has come to an end.

The woman, dressed from head to toe in black flowing robes pulling a rolling shopping cart or carrying a canvas black duffle bag, has been spotted walking across the southern United States.

Videos of her travels were posted on the internet showing her refusing food, water or any assistance from people who reached out to her.

Her fame reached unimaginable levels after a Facebook group was created called, “Where is the mysterious woman in black?”

The group page started tracking the woman’s walk and quickly reached over 60,000 followers.

People speculated on what would cause someone to walk across Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia. The leading theory was a religious pilgrimage, after she was seen on video engaging in a spiritual debate with a stranger.

The page became filled with sighting reports of time and exact location reminiscent of a strange human scavenger hunt.

Then on Wednesday, July 30, 2014, the hunt ended when the woman in black walked into a police station in Winchester, Virginia and telling them that she was planning on ending her walk at this point and wanted to be left alone.

The woman in black is a widow, a mother of two and a veteran from the U.S. Army, named Elizabeth Poles.

The 54-year old has been walking for two months to where she was raised, Winchester, Virginia.

Reuters discovered through the woman’s brother, Raymond Poles, that she has spent the past year in and out of Veteran Affair hospitals although a specific reason for her hospitalization is unknown at this time.

Through social media, people have reported their encounters with Poles as ranging from being kind and respectful to rude and cursing.

Her brother reported that his sister is a devout Christian but when she encountered the Winchester police she reportedly told them that she was from an Islamic nation and had worked at the Pentagon. Police have since determined that neither of those statements are true.

The Winchester police released a statement on Wednesday stating “The Winchester Police Department wants local residents to know that she will be part of the community and to respect her privacy if you see her in the area. She has expressed to officers that she wants to be left alone and is asking that the public respect her wishes.”

The police have told concerned citizens that Ms. Poles is not going to accept help in any form from anyone except for the police and that if they would like to help, they should make a donation to local homeless shelters.

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Susan L. Ruth
Susan L. Ruth is a long-time Washington, DC resident with extensive ties throughout the community. She is a genealogical researcher and writer, and is an active volunteer in the Northern Virginia competitive swimming community. Susan previously worked providing life-skills to head injured adults. Susan and her husband Kerry currently live in Northern Virginia with their three sons, Ryley, Casey and Jack and their American Bulldog, Leila.