When a crime is committed, drastic measures are taken in order to determine just who exactly committed the crime. If you watch any modern crime shows today, you can get at least a sense of all of the difficult steps everyone involved in the case has to take in order to solve the crime. No one can touch anything in or around the scene in case of contaminating the evidence. Samples have to be taken from everything: the ground the crime was committed, all of the things around them, and blood and DNA from the actual victim. It’s a long and extensive process, and unfortunately, many cases remain unsolved.
If you look back between the 1900’s and 1960’s, a time before we had access to the technology and criminal methods we do today, figuring out exactly who committed a crime was much more difficult. They didn’t have fingerprint recognition or DNA matching technology, so a lot of things had to be done with the naked eye.
Most of the pictures we have on this list were taken in either New York City or Los Angeles between 1920 and 1960. Many of the photographs were found in old archives and many don’t have case files or extra identifying information with them. There’s a chance it was lost when moving, a fire, or transferring information from written word to a computer. All we have left are these photographs and the short descriptions that go along with them.
Let us know what you think and if you might have any more guesses as to what happened to the victim based on the picture alone! Here are 15 Old Crime Scene Photos That Will Haunt Your Dreams
15. A Third Of All Murders Remained Unsolved
Only a little over 60 percent of all murders have been solved since 1980. Before that, the number is even smaller. That isn’t counting missing persons cases where the victim is likely deceased. Anyone who is attempting to murder someone has at least a little idea of what they might need to do in order to cover it up. If a murder weapon is never found, that’s the first chance there likely to let a murderer go free. Even if a murderer is caught, they might take it to trial, giving them a chance to charm and persuade a jury who finds them innocent. The photograph above does not come with much context. It appears as though the man was attempting to call someone when he fell face first into the table. Photographs like these remind us that we never know when we might come face to face with our fate.
14. Murdered On The Street
Many crimes can be committed in public and they may still go unsolved. If there aren’t witnesses around, or at least reliable witnesses, that’s the first sign that the murderer might get away with the crime. Nowadays, we have cameras on every corner that businesses use to protect their stores and restaurants. People have smartphones in their hands at almost all times and can snap a picture with just a couple clicks. Police officers have faster and more reliable cars as well as facial recognition technology that can help them find a suspect. However, in the 40’s, when this photograph was taken, that kind of technology didn’t exist and it was much harder to capture a suspect. They still did have some methods to help determine who and how someone murdered. The photographer in this picture is snapping shots of the blood splatter so they can possibly figure out at what angle and location this victim was shot.
13. Fell From Above
This particular photograph baffled some of the police who were responsible for figuring this case out over 50 years ago. The victim is laying a small area, and simply falling down from the same ground he’s lying on would not match up with the position he’s lying. It was likely that he fell from above, which would explain why he seems as though he’s stuffed in between the two walls. The other thing that somewhat baffled the police at the time is the fact that he has blood splatter on his shirt and is also lying next to a bottle of medicine. It was likely that he may have been ill and fell from above while attempting to take medicine. Just from this photograph alone, we can get a sense of what might have happened, so having the technology we do today to solve a crime isn’t always necessary.
12. Stuffed In A Trunk
The photographer of this image was actually the first one to find this trunk filled with a dead body. As you can see from the picture, the body is rather mangled and construed in order to properly fit in the trunk. It seems as though it’s a decent hiding place, however, not good enough. Without fingerprint technology, however, it can be incredibly hard to determine who might have killed this victim, especially when it’s taken far away from the crime scene. Really, at this point, the only thing that the police have to help solve this murder is the body and the trunk that they found the deceased in. They can’t determine yet if it was his trunk, the murderer’s trunk, or a trunk that was purchased specifically for hiding a dead body. Solving crimes is never easy, which is probably why so many of them remain unsolved to this day.
11. Shoved In A Closet
Apparently, shoving people in places where you would normally want to keep your clothes was a common practice for people over 50 years ago. This victim, unfortunately, found their fate when they were shoved into a wardrobe after being murdered. Cases like these really make us wonder what the intention of the murderer was. Did they expect to just keep the body in the wardrobe and hope no one ever needed to go in there? Was this just a temporary hiding spot for the body and they were caught before they could move it? Unfortunately, because of lost records, we may never be able to actually determine just what happened to this poor victim. Everything about these photographs seems like a staged movie. Even the ashtray next to the wardrobe seems like an antique relic. Unfortunately, this is the very real reality of our long history with true crime.
10. 80% Of Gun Homicides Are Gang-Related
To this day, about 80 percent of homicides committed with guns are gang related. That’s a very obvious statement when you look at all of the shootings that occur today in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. That was still the case over 50 years ago. Gang-related murders are even more difficult to solve as it isn’t just between the murderer and the victim. There are long connections leading to groups of people responsible for a murder. Anyone who might witness a gang-related murder is also certainly not willing to talk to the police, as they’ll be outed as a snitch or rat and might possibly face murder themselves. This leaves many gun related cases unsolved and the murdered out there to roam free and continue on in their criminal activity. For the victim above, he was struck by a reckless Taxi and murdered on the street, so the police know exactly who his murderer is.
9. An Illegal Abortion Bed
Before the 1970’s, abortion was completely illegal, as it was seen as taking a life and was just as criminal as murdering a full grown adult. Just because something is illegal does not mean that it isn’t going to happen. Many women still needed to get abortions for whatever personal reason they might have had. Getting an abortion can be mentally draining and a difficult process for the woman who has to do it. Physically, however, it isn’t that difficult of a process, and most doctors know how to give one even if they weren’t specifically trained in them. This meant that many doctors would give abortions out of their homes or in another private area because they knew it was better to have it done safe and professionally than let a woman try to do it herself in her own home. Since it was still illegal, however, many people were caught and punished for the crime. Above is one scene that was busted for being the location of illegal abortions.
8. Only A Decapitated Head Was Found
Obviously, police don’t find all they need at the crime scene when it comes to being able to solve the case. That is especially true for the victim above, whose body remained missing, only their head to be found. Having the head is a very important key to solving a crime, however. You can determine identity, age, race, and possibly even the cause of death all from the head. Stumbling into a crime scene like this still begs the question, however: who would take the body, and why? You might be able to assume that this particular murder is gang related. Leaving only the head could be a warning for others, and taking the body is a sign of power. However, it could also be the work of a sadistic serial killer who enjoys puzzling the police. What do you think the real crime behind this photograph is?
7. The Old Death Row
The photograph above isn’t a crime scene photo, but it still fits in with the others on the list as it gives us an idea as to what life looks like for those who were actually caught for their crimes. The murderer above sits and awaits electrocution in the chair that they will lose their life in. Seeing a photograph like this is chilling in itself, as it’s hard to determine what the look in their eyes might mean. The other disturbing part is that the logo on the forehead is that of Westinghouse electrical company. Is it really necessary to advertise your electricity company on the forehead of a murderer about to be electrocuted? Although the courts found this person guilty and determined they deserved to die, it still seems a bit much that they’d want to advertise their company on this person’s head.
6. Smiling Next To Her Dead Boyfriend
The photograph above is a little off-putting for several reasons. Right away, you can see that there is a victim laying on the ground who is obviously in need of help. Everyone is gathered around him waiting and watching, looking terrified at what his fate might be. Then we notice something incredibly unsettling. The woman right in the middle is staring right into the camera with a huge smile on her face. Why on earth would this woman be smiling? It gives us chills to learn that the woman flashing her pearly whites is actually the dead man on the ground’s girlfriend! They were enjoying a nice relaxing swim when the man must’ve caught a current and drown. The girl in the middle stated that the photographer told her to smile, and when someone points a camera at you and says “cheese” it’s kind of hard to not smile. We suppose…
5. A Knife In The Hand
If you’re a true crime nut, then you know that every single detail in the photograph above is crucial in helping to determine what exactly happened when this crime was committed. The blood splatter on and around the victim is important in every little detail. It’s necessary to take samples of all of the blood to determine that it only belonged to the victim. There could potentially be 2-3 other people involved in the crime if the blood is tested and found to belong to more than one person. The way the victim is holding the knife is important too. Perhaps it was planted in their hand to make the situation look like self-defense! Even the shoes would have to be swabbed and taken as they might belong to the killer instead of the victim.
4. Murdered At The Doorstep
The photograph above was tragically taken on this man’s doorsteps. You can see he was probably unlocking his door or at least searching for his keys when he was murdered. A murder like this would probably fit into being gang-related. It’s common for gangs to shoot the victim from behind so as to get a clean shot without them knowing or able to dodge a bullet. Getting shot on a doorstep hints that someone was probably waiting outside this man’s home for him to return home. If it was a domestic dispute, it likely would have occurred inside in the privacy of one’s own home. But the challenging part when it comes to solving crime cases is that until you have all the evidence you need, assumptions mean nothing. Not all murders are committed the same, and though there are common similarities in many, you truly can’t be certain until you have a confession.
3. A Messy Cover-Up
If you’re looking for a place to dump a body, somewhere secluded and untouched is the perfect spot. However, you don’t know who may be watching, or who might stumble upon the body the next day. This is true for a body found in the desert in 1942. Again, it can be challenging to determine who might have killed this person when the body is taken from the home. However, when a body is removed from a crime scene, that creates several other locations that instantly become crime scenes. The place of the murder is the first one, then the transportation that the body was put in when moved. The final crime scene becomes where exactly the body was hidden. The murder weapon also needs to be found, potentially creating a fourth crime scene. Even if all of this was discovered, there’s still a decent chance that the actual murderer may never be found.
2. Killed In An Elevator Shaft
You might think that an elevator shaft would be a good place to hide a body. Not many people will ever see it, and the bodies may remain hidden for quite some time. That is until the elevator just isn’t working anymore. Whoever murdered these two men felt like this would be the perfect spot to hide the body, when in reality, they were found almost instantly. When you’re the murderer, it’s crucial that if you want to get away with the crime, you have to hide the body almost immediately. Whoever the victim is, they might soon have people looking for them, if they don’t already. It’s also pretty challenging to have a body go unnoticed, so finding the best hiding spot is crucial in getting away with murder. For those 30 percent of murder cases that turn into cold cases, the murderer knows exactly how to get away with murder.
1. Murdered On His Wedding Day
The man in the photograph above was celebrating his wedding day when he was called into the hallway and murdered. A case like this is not only tragic, but it’s absolutely baffling. Out of nowhere, your party guests suddenly turn into potential suspects as well as witnesses. Even the bride runs the potential to be accused. Maybe she only married him for his money and now that the ceremony is over, she can finally shoot him. Perhaps it was a family member of the bride who shared the motives we just mentioned. Perhaps it is gang-related, and the murder of someone on their sacred day is a sign to those around them. A murder like this is puzzling and tragic for countless ways and reasons. Like the rest of the pictures on the list, crime scene photos have the ability to give us insight into the horrors around this while still having the ability to baffle and puzzle us further.