A picture can say a thousand words, and for some, that means everything. When you get a glimpse of a photograph, the only thing you can know for sure is what is seen in front of you. What happens in the seconds before and after a photograph is taken can remain a mystery forever. Sometimes, you might not even know the significance of a picture until days, weeks, or even months after it has already been taken.
In a world where pictures are easier to take, be in, and keep, it’s no wonder that almost everything seems like it’s constantly being documented. But taking a picture isn’t always consistent to telling a story. Photographers and subjects can manipulate a photograph to make it seem to have an innocent story and nothing more. Unfortunately, however, that isn’t always the case. Although a picture is seemingly normal, with nothing irregular or peculiar about it, the story behind where the photograph came from and what comes out of it can sometimes be incredibly disturbing. Photographs can capture tragedy, mystery, and horror, all without even trying to. Sometimes, photographs are just taken to try and remember something good, but eventually, it turns out that they reveal a much darker purpose.
These fifteen photographs definitely fit into that latter category. All of these pictures seem normal to the eye, and if you don’t read the descriptions, they’ll remain that way. But the truth behind them is much darker than what meets the eye. Check out 15 innocent-looking photos that actually have very dark backstories.
15. A Mysterious Dancer
This photograph just appears to be taken at a dance recital. Nothing seems out of the ordinary, just a bunch of little girls waiting around while a young woman dances behind them. Everything seems fine in this particular photograph, that is until you learn that the woman was not actually there.
The photograph was taken by one of the mothers of the dancers at the recital. She claims the dancer was not there when the photograph was taken, and she only discovered the dancing woman while going through her photographs. No one recognized the woman in the photographs, and the subject isn’t in any other pictures that were taken that night. It would be truly terrifying to be the mother going through the pictures only to discover you had actually captured a ghost! The photo does not appear to be faked, and the missing legs on the dancing woman give us a little hint that something more sinister may be involved in the picture.
14. Two Kids At A Party?
The two boys in the photograph above are Tyler Hadley, who is in black holding the orange cup, and one of his friends that he had decided to invite to his huge house party. For Tyler Hadley, this would be the last photograph of him taken at a party. No, he did not die after the picture was taken. Instead, he was sentenced to life in prison for killing his parents.
The motive for the murders? They wouldn’t let him throw a house party. Instead of sulking in his room like a normal teenager, he decided instead to kill both of his parents using a hammer and throw the party while their bodies lay rotting in the master bedroom. People who went to the party claimed that the house was filthy and covered in a sticky brown substance in various parts. The photograph above was taken after Tyler had already admitted to several people what he had done, few of them believing his story.
13. What Happened To The Puppy?
In this photo, it appears to be a young girl holding a puppy. The expression on her face, we would assume, is full of excitement, possibly because she just got a new puppy or is simply happy to be holding it. Unfortunately, the truth behind the photograph is much more sinister and disturbing.
The girl in the photograph is Alina Orlova, a 21-year-old girl from Russia who is being investigated for animal cruelty. This young girl, as well of one of her friends, are currently under house arrest and are being investigated for their involvement with a chain of young women who crush, torture, and kill animals on camera as a sort of fetish. Apparently, the demand for these videos is high and the payout is huge in China. The whereabouts of the puppy remain unknown, but a pet cemetery was found in an abandoned warehouse close to where the girls live, full of the remains of kittens and puppies.
12. The Last Photo Of Two Young Girls
The two girls photographed above are Holly Marie Wells and Jessica Aimee Chapman, both ten years old. The incredibly charming, intelligent, and bright girls were photographed together on a summer day after a barbecue. The girls left after taking this photograph, unfortunately, never to return.
The two girls, both knowing where they were going and traveling together, decided to leave the barbecue to go buy some candy. On their way back, they ran into one of their teaching assistants, Ian Huntley, a man they knew and trusted. Ian invited them inside his home, for which his motive was unknown. The girls were then not seen for two weeks, the entire time search parties and families anxiously awaited their return. Ian took an active participation in the case, always helping search parties and willing to talk to news outlets.
Once the girls’ bodies were discovered, they were linked back to Ian, who confessed to murdering the girls. He had been accused of sexual assault and rape in the past, but since he was never actually convicted of any crimes before this, he was allowed to work in the school the girls attended, earning him the trust of his students. The girls would be around 25-years-old today.
11. Two Kids On A Security Cam
In the above photograph, you might just assume it’s a surveillance footage of a young boy holding his younger brother’s hand as they walk through a shopping center. The reality is much more sickening. The photograph is actually of two-year-old James Bulger being led away from his mother by his murderers, Jon Venables, holding his hand, and Robert Thompson. The mother looked away only for a moment only to turn around and realize she would never see her son alive again.
The two murderers were only eleven-years-old at the time, but the nature of their crime would make even the most seasoned murderer sick. They took the young boy to a secluded area, torturing him for hours until they eventually laid his lifeless body on some train tracks in an attempt to cover up their crime. A photo like this reminds us that we never know who around us may be capable of absolutely heinous crimes.
10. Sleepers In Bunk Beds?
If you saw this photograph outside this article with no context, it’s a touch off-putting, but you’d most likely assume it was just a picture taken of people sleeping in bunk beds. The reality, however, is that it is members of the Heaven’s Gate Cult who committed mass suicide in 1997.
The members of this cult were led to believe that there was an alien spacecraft headed towards earth hidden behind the comet Hale-Bopp. The comet was definitely real, and its approach towards Earth went down in scientific history. However, there was never any evidence that would lead a sensible person to believe attached to the comet was a spacecraft. The members were convinced enough and drank a lethal dose of poison mixed with vodka, believing the only way they could make it through heaven’s gate to the spacecraft would be to leave their bodily “containers” behind.
9. Shadow People
If you look at the picture above, it appears to just be a blurry image of a sidewalk. You might even wonder why someone would take a picture in the first place. There appears to be shadows in both images, but the subject the shadow belongs to isn’t clear. You might assume that it’s the photographer’s shadow taking a picture of an unseen subject. The reality is much darker. The photographer took the picture to capture the shadow. But it’s not just a shadow of a person standing behind the photographer.
The shadows in the photographs above belong to victims of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The bomb caused permanent shadows to be cast into the surroundings of the people disintegrated by the bomb. These shadowed pieces of property have since been removed and stored in a museum as the constant reminder of the civilian fatalities of war.
8. Class Photo
The photo above appears to be any normal class photo that you and I might have appeared in. All of the students look to be joyous and happy to be there, with no idea of what the future might hold for them. Everybody’s doing something different in front of the camera, posing in ways unique to their personality. Nothing seems out of the ordinary.
That is, until you look to the top left of the picture, and see the students sitting in the very top corner. They all appear to be pointing fake guns at the camera. It may seem harmless for teenage boys to be interested in violence. The reality, however, is that these are the students responsible for the Columbine shootings, one of the most infamous school shootings to ever shake our nation. The picture might seem harmless and charming, but in reality, it shows a group of people unaware of the horror soon to be caused by the violent teens in the corner.
7. A Sleeping Woman?
The photograph above appears to be of a sleeping woman, unaffected by anything surrounding her. She looks peaceful, decorated in Victorian-era clothing and resting blissfully on a soft bed. It seems strange someone might want to take a picture of this woman until you realize the reality behind the photograph.
The woman in the picture is allegedly “Loana the Bloodthirster,” a woman accused of horrific violent crimes under the speculation that she was a vampire. The picture was taken post-mortem after she allegedly died from drinking too much of her own blood. The legitimacy of the photograph is still under scrutiny, as some claim it’s just a photograph of a post-mortem woman. But this old picture was taken in a time when crimes were easier to get away with so legends might be the closest we’ll ever get to the truth behind some photographs. While we may never be certain who the woman in the picture is, she surely does look satisfied for someone recently deceased.
6. Regular Scuba Divers?
If you look at this picture, it looks just like a few people enjoying a scuba dive. And that’s exactly what the situation was, moments before this photograph was taken. In this picture, we see Gabe Watson front and center while a diving instructor swims towards Gabe’s newlywed wife, Tina, lying lifeless on the bottom of the ocean floor.
Gabe claims that his wife panicked once they were underground, and as her arms flailed, knocked his mask off. Once he recovered, he was too late to save her as she was already lying on the ocean floor. What many believed to be the truth, however, was that Gabe had actually shut off her oxygen for a few minutes until she drowned, turned it back on, and let her fall to the ocean floor. It was baffling to many as to how she was able to drown surrounded by other divers. The only evidence against Gabe was this photograph and another witness’s testimony that he had seen Gabe holding his wife in a “bear-hug” moments before she died. The truth may never be known, and Gabe is living free and remarried.
5. Not-So-Happy Couple
The two people in the photograph above look like your average couple taking a selfie to show the world how in love they are. The man looks pretty happy, while the woman still looks content, but something is surely slightly off. The look on her face leads us to believe something wasn’t exactly right when the picture was taken.
That may be due to the fact that this is another post-mortem photograph on our list, with the woman being the subject that is deceased. This post-mortem photograph differs in that the cause of the woman’s death remains unknown to this day. She appears to be in good health, but the look on her face suggests something more sinister might have happened. We may never know the truth of the photograph, but we do know that it’s hard to tell who might actually be alive in the pictures you see.
4. Seemingly Normal Woman
The woman in the photograph above appears to be a nice young woman enjoying her day outside. Nothing is out of the ordinary in this picture, and everything moments before and after seem to be normal, nothing in the picture hinting otherwise.
The reality of the photograph, however, is disturbingly dark. The woman in the photograph is Ilse Koch, better known as “The Beast of Buchenwald.” She was married to Karl Koch, the top guy in charge at the Nazi concentration camp in Buchenwald. Ilse is a disturbed woman responsible for the torture and murder of many prisoners at the camps. She would often remove their skin and keep it as a souvenir if they had interesting tattoos. She was arrested only to later commit suicide in prison at the age of 60. She had visions and terrors of the prisoners coming back to torture her in her cell. Her decomposing body is now buried in an unmarked grave, never visited or taken care of.
3. What Are The Marks On The Wall?
If you look at this photograph, there’s not much to it. It’s just a wall that appears to be a little banged up and damaged. You could find a wall that looks like this anywhere you go. It’s hard to keep some surfaces in good shape when they’re exposed to outside sources. Wind, precipitation, and sun damage all play a key role in causing various surfaces to look like this. However, there is a deeply disturbing truth hidden behind this seemingly normal wall.
It is actually a wall located inside a gas chamber at Auschwitz. The marks on the wall are scratch marks from the victims inside that were subjected to Hitler’s “Final Solution.” You might think it’s just a normal wall, but the scratch marks from the innocent victims begging to get out will remain as marks forever to remind us of the disturbing aspects of genocide.
2. Post-Mortem Family Photo
The subjects in the photograph above all seem to be one big, happy family. Everyone’s in the room, all eager to get their picture taken. But what exactly was the occasion? The photograph appears to be rather old, and in times when cameras were harder to gain access to, you had to have a pretty good reason to pay to get your picture taken.
That is because this is yet another post-mortem photograph on our list. Unfortunately, the deceased subject in this picture is the child lying on the floor. Post-mortem photography used to be a common practice, so for us, it can seem a little off-putting to see pictures like this now, even though that was normal life over a 100 years ago. However, it is still a little unsettling that all of these people are able to compose themselves enough to get a photograph taken while a lifeless child lays on the ground in front of them.
1. The Youngest Mother In The World
If you saw this picture, you might think it was a sweet photograph of two young family members. Perhaps an older sister holding her newborn sibling. Or maybe they’re cousins posing for a photograph. Nothing seems too out of the ordinary- until you notice the young girl appears to be lying in a hospital bed. That is because she is in fact the one who has just given birth to the baby that she is holding.
The five-year-old girl in the photograph is Lina Medina, the youngest woman to give birth in medical history. She holds her son, the baby of an unidentified father. Lina’s father was at one point arrested for alleged sexual abuse of a child, though he was never convicted. Lina gave birth in 1939, a time before people took paternity tests on talk shows. She is still alive today, although her son passed away due to cancer. She has never revealed the father and may take that secret to the grave.