It takes an especially terrifying constitution for a human to take the life of another. To a regular human being, murderers are rightfully considered some of the lowest people around. At the same time, we fear and despise the things killers are capable of doing. Both of these reactions are generally reasonable, and while some may disagree on the finer points of capital punishment, most people think it goes without saying that horrible criminals belong behind bars for a long, long time.
Due to this prevailing mindset, one of the most important duties police have in protecting the public is capturing these vicious murderers and bringing them to justice. Every man or woman willing to genuinely put his or her life on the line and ensure the general population remains safe is worthy of a certain level of praise, and those who capture killers are considered true heroes on an even greater level. Unfortunately, the truly horrific murderers some of these law enforcement agents have caught were entirely unrepentant for their crimes. Photographic evidence exists showing just how proud they were about what they did as seen in their mug shots, court appearances, and sometimes, even in reporter snapshots taken immediately upon their arrest.
The world at large will never understand why or how murderers are so inclined to do the horrible things they do. All most of us can do is hope they feel some remorse about their worst actions, which is exactly why it gets so frightening when these awful men and women apparently feel no shame about what they did. Keep reading to see 15 chilling photos of murderers shortly after they were caught.
15. Smile For The Camera
To this day, the first thing most people notice when looking at photographs of horrific serial killer Ted Bundy is that the man was strikingly handsome in the traditional sense of the word. Even in this picture, where he’s being led in chains from one state-appointed confinement to another, haggard and unshaven, Bundy looks shockingly photogenic as he nods to the camera with a huge smile across his face. It was this charisma that actually made Bundy so terrifying as he used it to lure no less than 30 women across seven states into a world of torture, sexual assault, and eventually, their deaths. Bundy himself was aware how atrocious the things he did were, once claiming to be “the most cold-hearted son of a bitch you’ll ever meet.” At the same time, his ability to blend into a crowd, or at least stand out only in good ways, sends chills down the spine of everyone who realizes this means just about any man like him could be capable of such vicious deeds.
14. Great Joke, Chief
A number of serial killers profiled on this list reveal how seemingly normal these criminals can sometimes be. The infamous “Giggling Granny,” real name Nannie Doss, is improbably even more frightening than the other slice-of-life killers, and it all relates to how she acquired that nickname. Doss murdered at least 11 members of her own family, including four husbands she may have directly lured to their deaths. Though she claims some of these men beat her, that doesn’t explain why she also killed her children, mother, and sisters. The excuse also very clearly fell apart the moment she confessed, thanks to the fact that she was apparently unable to stop laughing throughout the interrogation, during which she offered a full confession. This photograph, in particular, shows Doss with the arresting officers who took her statement, and the one emotion visible on her face is pure contentment. The male officers look like they can’t believe what they heard, and chances are, that was exactly the case.
13. They’re Gonna Make Horror Movies About Me? Neat!
The whole point of this list is that the men and women on it were vicious killers, and yet, Ed Gein takes the idea of terror to an entirely different level. While most of these other killers have had maybe one or two films made about them, pieces about Gein have found their way into countless horror classics, like Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. As mimicked by the terrifying villains in those films, Gein murdered at least two women and dug up the bodies of countless more, draping his household items in their skin when he was done. It was apparently also Gein’s intention to fashion a “woman suit” out of his victims’ remains. This rare photo shows Gein in the arms of two officers who apprehended him, and he couldn’t look happier about it all. Initially found unfit to stand trial, Gein eventually was found guilty by means of mental insanity. This hardly makes it any easier to comprehend his crimes, but any other result would’ve been even worse.
12. “Get Away With Murder,” You Say?
While most people probably aren’t aware of the full extent of John Wayne Gacy’s horrible crimes, now more than ever, society is very familiar with the trope of an evil killer clown. In many respects, Gacy created this archetype in the most horrifying way possible: using his part-time job as Pogo the Clown to lure unsuspecting young victims to his home, where he sexually assaulted and then murdered them. Gacy had at least 33 victims to his name, and when captured, was reported to tell police, “You know, clowns can get away with murder.” Luckily for the rest of us, it turned out that wasn’t the case as Gacy was convicted for 12 of his murders and sentenced to death for his crimes. 14 years later, his execution took place. Before Gacy could meet his fate, though, the police had to capture his image, something he clearly didn’t take seriously as can be inferred from the images above. Once it was all said and done, the clown no longer had anything to laugh about, nor was his joy in any way worth the horrible deeds he committed.
11. Maybe Looks Can Kill After All
In most cases, the most terrifying thing a convicted killer can do is show no remorse, or revel in his or her crimes with a big smile upon getting captured. One of the earliest serial killers to be seen by the public eye, Carl Panzram, took a different route to inspiring fear in the hearts of people everywhere: in his own words, he claimed he was “rage personified.” Panzram was a homeless alcoholic from his teenage years onward and would often rob and sexually assault men at random. When Panzram was finally caught, he confessed to killing 21 people and sexually assaulting no less than 1,000 men — a number that would be almost impossible to prove yet remains utterly heartless to even jokingly brag about. It wasn’t the sheer heartlessness of Panzram that made him such a menacing figure, though, as his look in every way confirmed his self-description. As terrifying as it is that other killers are content with what they did, the fact Panzram was never done was a much more pressing concern, at least until he was hanged for his crimes in 1930.
10. The Ice Man Caught-Eth
Although it would probably be fair to call every contract killer to attempt the profession an “ice man” (or woman), the nickname has been forever associated with Richard Kuklinski due to his particular method of preserving his victim’s bodies (freezing them). More creative than the police force, Kuklinski’s fellow career criminals called him names like “the one-man army” or even “the devil himself” due to his absolutely stone cold demeanor. Kuklinski was ultimately convicted of eight murders, and if he’s to believe, upwards of 200 more could be attributed to his time getting paid to kill. In this photograph, Kuklinski looks suave as a professional, almost as though he were some sort of businessman who scored a huge deal moments before it was taken. In fact, the man next to him has him in handcuffs, and he’s being led from one location where he was held in custody to another. Clearly, not even getting caught was going to do anything to break his composure, and that includes receiving two life sentences.
9. More Like Son Of A…
Nine out of ten criminals, let alone murderers, will probably come up with at least a few excuses before confessing to the horrible crimes they committed. In the summer of 1976, David Berkowitz was known as the “.44 Caliber Killer” due to a horrific killing spree wherein he murdered six people and injured eight more, all with his namesake weapon. A wild manhunt ensued, and Berkowitz was soon caught, surprisingly confessing in short order. The catch was, he literally blamed it all on his dog, Harvey, which he said was possessed by a demon. This wild story caused people to start calling Berkowitz the “Son of Sam,” named after Harvey’s prior owner. Also, from that moment on, Berkowitz allegedly revelled in the media attention his crimes received as seen in this photograph of him with his hands in chains and a big smile across his face. Because of the joy Berkowitz took in his trial and media coverage, so-called “Son of Sam laws” have since cropped up, ensuring that no vicious criminals could profit financially through the media covering their crimes.
8. Just An Old Woman Out For A Stroll
Technically speaking, this isn’t a photo of a murderer getting caught, although it didn’t take the police very long to figure out what had happened. Of course, no one could blame the officers for making their initial mistake. Upon first glance, no one would suspect that the hardened killer in this picture, with a potential 15 victims to her name, could possibly be the elderly woman underneath that umbrella. Further inspection reminded onlookers that the world could be a bizarre place, and the nearly 60-year-old Dorothea Puente was indeed soon to be found guilty of many horrible crimes. Puente was a landlord to primarily elderly tenants and would milk her tenants’ Social Security checks for as long as possible before eventually killing them. When the police asked, she used their old age or made up conditions to mask her crimes. Eventually, bodies were found in Puente’s backyard, sparking the pictured investigation. Rather than face the music, Puente excused herself for an afternoon stroll, and not expecting an old woman could be a murderer, the police let her go. Luckily, they found her five days later. Stories like this are especially terrifying for their ability to remind us that literally anyone can be a killer.
7. Oh Hai Night Stalker
The type of name given to a serial killer generally speaks volumes about the atrocity of his or her crimes, and it’s hard to think of a more menacing sobriquet than “The Night Stalker.” His real name was Richard Ramirez, and he invaded at least 13 Los Angeles and San Francisco homes throughout the mid-1980s, terrorizing and murdering the residents after robbing and sexually assaulting them. Ramirez had the horrible childhood not unusual for such vicious criminals, yet his true inspiration seemed to be an avowed commitment to Satanism, which means he never expressed any remorse for the horrible things he had done. Despite this, Ramirez was somehow able to find a great number of female fans, probably because of pictures just like the one above. In the photo, Ramirez looks almost childlike and definitely happy to be on camera. That pentagram on his hand should have been a deal breaker for most women, though, if the fact that he’s draped in the county blues for some truly horrifying crimes isn’t enough to turn off the ladies.
6. Don’t Worry; I’ve Got All Day
This list is loaded with horrifying serial killers, and Jeffrey Dahmer proves to be one of the most horrifying, which is evident through his nickname alone: The Milwaukee Cannibal. As such a moniker would imply, Dahmer sexually assaulted then murdered 17 men from the late ‘70s to early ‘90s, and when he was done with his sickening inclinations, he capped off this parade of terror by eating his victims’ internal organs. Once captured, Dahmer readily confessed to all of his crimes, accepting his fate of living the rest of his life in prison. That didn’t quite come to pass, though, as a fellow inmate named Christopher Scarver murdered Dahmer two years into his stay. Obviously, he didn’t see that fate coming when this photograph was taken during his trial as Dahmer looks more like someone in line for the bank than someone who’s about to meet his terrible fate. Courts found Dahmer to suffer from a number of psychological disorders, yet here, he looks calm, cool, collected, and frighteningly unfazed by the world finding out about his darkest and most outrageous acts.
5. All In A Day’s Work
Earning a nickname based on the town where you reside typically goes one of two ways: either the sobriquet recognizes you as a local hero like poker player “the Cincinnati Kid,” or it signifies your infamy as was the case with “the Boston Strangler.” The latter epithet belonged to Albert DeSalvo, or at least he confessed as much, with some skeptics now believing the crimes may have been committed by a number of assailants. Maybe DeSalvo didn’t commit all 13 strangulations he took credit for, but even confessing to doing so makes him seem like a pretty horrifying person. In any event, DeSalvo was convicted of committing the crimes and sentenced to life in prison, where he himself was later murdered. Up until the day his own life was taken, though, it looks like the Boston Strangler actually had a pretty good time living under the Massachusetts Department of Correction’s dime. As the picture above shows, he remained smiling, holding a cup of coffee, and relaxing by a window as though meeting his fate was just another day at the office.
4. Maybe Get That Tattoo Removed…
Upon first glance, anybody with a neck tattoo is pretty menacing, and that’s regardless of whether or not they committed any crimes. Perhaps the one exception would be that strange type of man who needs to tattoo the name of the woman he loves on whatever he believes is the most painful place to receive such a tattoo. That was the case with Adam Plaeger, who by all accounts was completely obsessed with his girlfriend, Melanie Heuberger, leading to him inking her name across his throat. Tragically, as time has proven far too many times, obsession can have two forms, and in this case, the dark side led to Plaeger strangling Heuberger to her death then stuffing her body in a closet. It wasn’t long before family members started noticing a smell, and Plaeger soon confessed in full to his crimes. Because Heuberger was killed just last year, the full outcome of this story is still not known, but that tattoo is still a terrifying reminder of how badly love can go wrong.
3. Horrible Parenting Makes Some People Smile
As the saying goes, people are innocent until proven guilty, and the results aren’t in on this woman’s recent trial related to the murder of her young daughter. Things are looking seriously grim for Krystle Villanueva, though, and this terrifying mugshot is a big part of why. Most women (and men, for that matter) could never so much as crack a smile in the immediate wake of their child’s death. Villanueva is unlike the average mother, however, in that the horrific stabbing death of her daughter caused the woman to beam into a brilliant smile. These unfortunate crimes took place in January of 2017, so the outcome of her trial won’t be made known for some time. Of course, the smile is likely more than enough to convict her in the court of public opinion, at least of the fact she’s emotionally disturbed and frighteningly detached from her own child. Early court findings seem to support the mental instability theory, which is sadly the only thing that makes any sort of sense.
2. Murder Makes Him Tongue Tied
Regardless of whether or not he ever committed a murder, most people would run away from David Adam Pate while screaming in terror. Mug shot or no mug shot, any photograph of a man proudly showing off his forked tongue mere inches away from the “Satan” tattoo on his forehead could easily be called the stuff of nightmares. Add in the full story, and it becomes clear that’s what Pate wishes to be. Pate was arrested for the crime of luring Rickey James into the woods and stabbing him dozens of times, taking his life. When captured by police, Pate pled guilty to the crime and smiled throughout his court proceedings. His testimony was so emotionally intense, it made his victim’s brother run away from the courtroom, a reaction that apparently caused Pate to smirk in satisfaction. Luckily, those of us outside of the James family can rest easy knowing that Pate has been sentenced to life in prison, and thus, the odds of running into his face in person under any circumstances are rather slim.
1. Killer Party, Tyler
Back in high school, practically everyone could relate to the idea of his or her parents occasionally getting in the way of a more active social life. Some kids weren’t allowed to borrow their parents’ cars, maybe some others found themselves grounded week in and week out, and then there were kids like Tyler Hadley, who had it pretty good but apparently wasn’t allowed to throw parties in his house. For this reason, when Hadley made the shocking decision to murder his parents for their perceived overbearing qualities, the only thing left to do was throw a traditional teen party to celebrate. Seen holding up a red cup to the camera in this photo, Hadley looks entirely calm as he stands next to a friend wearing a thousand-yard stare, likely because he just became the first person to hear a confession. That friend soon went to the police and Hadley was arrested, meaning this was taken a bit before he was actually caught. Pretty terrifying.