The Mystery of the Roaming 'Woman in Black' Revealed

Elizabeth Poles told cops she intends to stay in Winchester, Virginia, for good.

ByABC News
July 30, 2014, 2:12 PM

— -- The mysterious “woman in black” has reached her final destination in Winchester, Virginia, after roaming the countryside for at least three weeks, she told police, although her brother says he believes her journey is not over.

“Officers spoke with the woman who says she is from Winchester and intends on staying in the area,” according to a Winchester Police Department statement released this morning.

Police gave Elizabeth Poles, 56, a ride to the station and provided her with food and shelter Tuesday night, according to Capt. Doug Watson.

“We were called to the area for crowd control last night because about 100 people gathered around that area to see this woman,” Watson told ABC News today.

Poles had been seen wandering along U.S. Southeast and Midwest highways - Georgia, Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky - with a stick and a small bag along her journey that apparently began earlier this month.

“She seemed to be in really good condition,” Watson said. “I spoke with her and she was very articulate and very appreciative of our help.

“She just said: ‘I wish people would mind their own business,’” Watson said.

Watson said Poles was “on a mission that has something to do with faith and religion.”

Raymond Poles, Elizabeth’s brother, said she was in the military for about 10 years before she started getting treatment in a VA hospital in North Carolina.

“She said she wanted to move down here about four years ago,” Raymond Poles of Smiths Station, Alabama, told ABC News today. “So my wife and I went picked her up.

“For the first few months, she was doing great,” Poles said, adding that his sister has since wandered off several times from his home. “She was going to churches on Sundays and to her appointments at the nearby VA hospitals.

“Then one Sunday, when my wife and I picked her up, she shaved her head. She was asking me, ‘Where can I buy those long black robes?’”

After Elizabeth Poles shaved her head, she started going back to Virginia, where her father raised her, according to Raymond Poles.

“The last time I saw her was three weeks ago,” Poles said. “She said, ‘You’re not going to see me down South again.

“I don’t want to call it a mental health problem. The VA calls her a disabled veteran,” Poles said. “But there is something going on with her.”

He said he doubts that she could have covered so much ground by foot alone and suspects that she relied on buses to help her along.

Many residents snapped pictures of Poles and offered her water, food and money along the way, but she rejected all of them. A Facebook page, “Where is the Mysterious Woman in Black?” had more than 50,000 fans.

Jimmy McClellan, a West Virginia resident, rode his motorcycle to Virginia Tuesday just to get a sighting of the mysterious figure.

“When I got there, I saw so many people ahead of me, lined up with camera,” McClellan told ABC News today. “When she walked pass me, I offered her a bottle of water.

“She said, 'No, please get back. This is none of your business,’” McClellan said. “She didn’t say it in nasty way.

“My friend went out there and did the same thing. She [Poles] refused it and started cursing at her,” McClellan added. “From what I’ve learned, she can be really nice or really rude. I don’t blame her rudeness. She wants to be left alone.”

McClellan said Poles appeared to be in good shape Tuesday night, and didn’t seem dehydrated.

“I expected her to be dirty, but she seemed like she just came out of the house,” McClellan added.

As for her brother, he has a prediction for where her journey will actually end. “I don’t believe she will stay in Virginia,” Poles said. “I think she will come back again.”