Can a picture really say a thousand words? In this case, the answer is definitely no. These mug shots are just the beginning of some pretty twisted stories.
When a person is arrested it is common practice as part of the booking process for the police to take a photograph of the individual. These photos are used as a form of identification for the prisoner and can also be shown to victims or witnesses of the crime. The booking photo or mug shot can also be released to the media to help identify a criminal that has escaped from custody or is wanted for a crime.
The practice of taking photographs of criminals began in the 1840s, shortly after the invention of photography. But it wasn’t until 1888 that French policeman officer Alphonse Bertillon standardized the process. A booking photo is known as a mug shot because the word “mug” is a slang term for face.
A typical mugshot is two-part; one consisting of a profile view and one front-facing photo, taken against a plain background.
All the mugshots in our collection have unusual or creepy backstories. The folks in them may seem like regular people, but looks can be deceiving. The stories behind the pictures remind us that we can’t judge people at face value; something to think about next time you’re scrolling through Facebook.
She Made Soap And Crunchy Tea Cakes Out Of Her Neighbors
Leonarda’s mugshot is very deceiving. She may look the part of a warm mother figure but in life, that’s not the role she played at all. The part she chose was that of a killer.
As a young woman, Leonarda visited a fortune teller who told her that all of her children would die young. This prophecy haunted her throughout her life and eventually drove her to murder. In 1939 she learned that her firstborn son, Giuseppe, had joined the Italian army and would be sent to fight in WWII. Recalling the prophecy she decided that she would do whatever it took to keep him safe. She reasoned that the best way to do this would be to make human sacrifices. And that’s exactly what she did. She killed three of her neighbors with an axe before dismembering their bodies and using human remains to make soap and crunchy tea cakes. Ew!
14. The Cannibal Next Door
The scariest thing about Jeffrey Dahmer is how ordinary he looks. I’m not sure how we expect serial killers to look, but this certainly wouldn’t be it. He looks remarkably average and we all know that old Jeffrey was anything but average.
Most of us know the story of Jeffrey Dahmer, the serial killer nicknamed The Milwaukee Cannibal. He murdered 17 young men and his story of necrophilia and cannibalism made him one of the most well known serial killers in history.
But here’s something you may not know about this serial killer: at his high school, Jeffrey had a reputation for being a class clown. At this school, if you did something crazy or bizarre it was referred to as “Doing a Dahmer”. If only they had known, right?
12. The Co-Ed Killer Killed His Grandparents At 15
Edmund Kemper is an American serial killer who became known in the media as the Co-Ed Killer. In the 1970s he killed eight women, including his own mother and young hitchhikers. But his life of crime started long before– he was already a double murderer by the time he reached his 16th birthday.
Kemper and his mother had a difficult and stormy relationship so when he was 14 years old, he was sent to live with his paternal grandparents. But they also struggled to control him and he resented them for trying to discipline him. When Kemper was 15 years old, he fatally shot them both with a shotgun. He went to a mental hospital following these crimes but managed to manipulate doctors into releasing him at the age of 21.
11. The Face Of Evil
This scary looking guy is Pazuzu Algarad. He and his girlfriend were arrested in 2015 after police found the remains of two men buried in their back garden. They were charged with the murders of Joshua Fredrick Wetzler and Tommy Dean Welch who disappeared in 2009.
Pazuzu was a self-confessed Satanist and an extensive search of his home proved that he often took part in devil-worshipping rituals and sacrificed animals. According to a friend, he often spoke about the murders, adding that he had eaten parts of his victims, but no one had believed him.
To avoid facing punishment for his grisly crimes Algarad committed suicide in 2015 whilst in prison. Guards at Central Prison in Raleigh, North Carolina discovered his unresponsive body early one morning with a wound on his wrist.
10. The Gorilla Man – Never The Same After Week-Long Coma
Earle Leonard Nelson AKA The Gorilla Man is a serial killer you may not have heard of before. His story sounds like something out of a cheesy movie, but it all really happened.
Nelson was born in 1897 in San Francisco and when he was 10 years old, he was involved in a bicycle accident that rendered him unconscious for nearly a week. After he woke up, he complained of headaches and started displaying bizarre behavior. He was never the same again.
Earle was in and out of mental hospitals, often escaping, for much of his life. He began murdering landladies in 1926 and it’s thought that he could have had in excess of 20 victims. He was eventually caught and received a death sentence.
9. The Happy Face Killer Wanted To Be The Most Famous Serial Killer
Keith Hunter Jesperson is the most twisted type of serial killer out there. Murder wasn’t enough for Jesperson; he also wanted to be infamous for his killings and left bold notes for the police and the media about his crimes. These were often signed with a smiley face symbol which led to his alias as The Happy Face Killer.
In a five-year period between 1990 and 1995 Jesperson murdered eight women, mostly by strangulation. But Keith claims that he is the most prolific serial killer that’s ever lived and has confessed to over 160 murders. However, the police were only able to connect him to eight murders. Jesperson was an interstate truck driver and most of his victims were young women and prostitutes that he found at truck stops.
3. The Hillside Stranglers
Cousins are often the first friends that children have and the bond between them can be strong, even as adults. But sometimes, even these bonds can be deadly. Such was the case of Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, AKA The Hillside Stranglers.
In just over 5 months between 1977 and 1978 the pair killed 10 women and dumped their bodies along the side of the Hollywood Hills. Police initially suspected that there was just one serial killer at work, but DNA evidence showed two distinct profiles. They were captured in 1979 and later convicted of kidnapping, raping and strangling ten females who ranged in age between 12 and 28. They both received life sentences.
5. The Aurora Massacre
James Holmes began to show signs of mental health problems at a young age. By the time he was 11 he had already attempted to commit suicide. He attended therapy were he spoke about having visual and auditory hallucinations and confessed that he was obsessed with the idea of killing.
But thinking about something and actually doing it are two different things and no one could have anticipated that James would turn his bloody fantasies into a horrifying reality.
On the 20th of July 2012 he entered a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises and opened fire on the crowd. He killed 12 people and injured 70 more during the massacre. In 2015 Holmes was sentenced to 12 life terms without the possibility of parole.
13. 10-Year-Olds Abduct, Torture, And Kill 2-Year-Old
No, these are not two little boys posing for “cute” mugshot-style photos. What you are actually looking at here are the faces of the two youngest convicted murderers in modern history. Believe it or not, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables were just ten years old when they abducted, brutally tortured and murdered a two-year-old child.
The crime took place in 1990. The two boys played truant from school and went to a local shopping center where CCTV cameras caught them leaving with a small toddler. The young child was James Bugler and the two had snatched him while his mother was distracted. Police found his body two days later and arrested Thompson and Venables after a tip-off. The two were found guilty and sent to juvenile detention. They were released at the age of 18 with new identities but will remain on lifelong parole.
8. The Murder Of Travis Alexander
The story of Jodi Arias and Travis Alexander can get pretty confusing, but here’s what we know for sure. On the 4th of June 2008, Jodi (aged 28 at the time) killed her boyfriend Travis Alexander by stabbing him multiple times while he has in the shower. Her coup de grace was a shot to the head from a 25-caliber automatic Colt pistol.
Was this a cold-blooded murder or an act of self-defense? Jodi claimed that Travis had been abusive towards her during their relationship and that on the day of the murder she had finally snapped and fought back. Her lawyers tried to paint a picture of a woman who committed justifiable homicide, but the jury didn’t agree. They found her guilty of first degree murder in 2013 and given a life sentence.
7. I Love You To Death
Lust can drive people to do some pretty cruel things. Such was the case of Chacey Poynter and Michael Garza. In this instance, their desire to be with each other turned deadly.
The problem that Poynter and Michael had was that she was married to another man. That man was Captain Bob Poynter, a Texas firefighter and paramedic. The two were married in 2009 but after 5 years they filed for divorce. Chacey told her lover that her husband was abusive towards her and together they hatched a plan to get back at him.
Chacey lured him to a deserted road where Michael was waiting and fatally shot him in the head. She tried to play the victim in front of the police, but their background was quickly revealed. The two are currently awaiting trial.
4. Crime Spree On Interstate 5
Randall Woodfield is an American serial killer who is suspected of killing up to 44 people between 1979 and 1981. You may not recognize him, but you may know him by the name the media gave him – The I-5 Killer or I-5 Bandit. He committed a number of crimes, including robbery, rape, and murder along the Interstate 5 highway, which runs through Washington, Oregon, and California.
Randall grew up in a good home and had a talent for football. He was even selected in the 1974 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers as a wide receiver, but didn’t make the final roster. A few years later he embarked on a chilling cross country crime spree before being apprehended in 1981. He is serving a life sentence at Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem.
2. Lucky Luciano Made Millions In The Prohibition Era
This looks like a guy you wouldn’t want to mess with right? Well you’d be 100% correct. This is the face of Charles “Lucky” Luciano, an Italian-American mob boss who is considered by most people to be the father of modern organized crime in the USA.
Luciano was born in 1897 and moved to the United States with his family when he was nine years old. He started his own street gang in his teens and quickly moved into protection rackets and prostitution. During the prohibition era, he started bootlegging and selling drugs and by 1925, Luciano was grossing over $12 million a year.
He was convicted for crimes related to prostitution in 1936 and given a 30-year prison sentence, but during WWII he negotiated a deal with the government. This deal allowed him to freely live out his life outside of the United States.
1. Hostage Turned Bank Robber
The story of Patty Hearst is just as sad as it is bizarre. Patty came from a prominent family and at the age of 18 she went to the University of California, Berkeley, to study art history.
In 1974 Patty was kidnapped from the university by a group of left-wing terrorists known as the Symbionese Liberation Army. They planned to use her as leverage; hoping that her family’s political connections could be used to free two of their members who had been arrested for murder. When this plan failed they gave her an ultimatum: stay with us or we kill you.
Patty was held hostage for 19 months and began to sympathize with the SLA’s cause. She even participated in a bank robbery with members of the group. This crime got her sent to jail, but her sentence was commuted by President Jimmy Carter a few months later. She received a full pardon from President Bill Clinton in 2001.
6. A Killer Couple
Okay, let’s be honest, even without knowing about their sordid background there does seem to be something a little off about this couple right? A certain look in their eyes, maybe? They may have done a good job of appearing like average hard working people but Fred and Rose West had very dark secrets. And they managed to get away with their crimes for almost twenty years.
Fred and Rose West were a serial killing couple who are believed to have raped and murdered up to 13 young women, between 1967 and 1987. They buried most of their victims within their home and in their garden. One of their victims was Fred’s own step-daughter.
This booking photo is probably one of the last photos ever taken of Fred West. He committed suicide while awaiting trial leaving Rose to face prosecution alone.