Seeing a picture that sends chills down your spine is terrifying enough. But every once in a while, you stumble upon a really scary picture that makes your heart stop more quickly once you realize the true backstory behind the taking of the photograph. Some pictures are so scary that there’s no way they could be real-we hope. Other pictures give us a little more inside information as to the backstory behind infamous murders and crimes.
In our modern times, it’s hard to really trust anything you find on the internet. There have been plenty of hoaxes and times that we thought a terrifying picture was the real deal, only to soon find out that it was all just an elaborate prank executed by some bored youth. But every once in a while, you really can stumble upon a truly terrifying photograph with an even scarier backstory! Sometimes these photographs don’t seem too scary when you first look at them, but upon further investigation, you quickly realize that the picture is something truly terrifying. But then, when you do a little research and learn more about the situation involving the subject matter of a certain picture, it becomes an image and story that will never leave your mind for the rest of your entire life.
Sometimes it seems as though the ability to take a photograph is a blessing and a curse. It’s great to have a chance to remember a moment for eternity, but what about when it’s not a moment that you’d like to remember? Here are 15 scary photographs with even scarier backstories.
15 Normal Merchants?
When you first look at this picture, you can instantly become overwhelmed with terror. There are two adults who look to be selling body parts of some sort. Surely this is just some still from a cannibalistic horror movie, right? Unfortunately, this is a very real photograph of two actual people selling body parts that they got from real humans. The even scarier part? Those humans that they are selling are actually their children. This photograph was taken during the Russian famine in the 1920s. People can do some seriously messed up things when they’re hungry, but this is just unimaginable. This couple, unfortunately, saw that their only option was to murder their children and sell the parts for food. This wasn’t uncommon, as food and resources were so low that people were often eating human meat in order to survive. Would you do the same in their scenario?
14 A Masked Figure
The picture on the left looks like a seemingly attractive woman, Maria Elena Milagros de Hoya. But the picture on the right is arguably much less attractive. Unfortunately, it’s the same woman, only after Carl Tanzler got ahold of her. Maria was a young woman who was struck with tuberculosis when she was only 21. She went to visit Dr. Tanzler, who did his best to treat her. He actually admitted that as soon as he met her he had fallen in love with her. Unfortunately, nothing could be done and Maria had passed on. Dr. Tanzler paid her funeral costs and even had a mausoleum built for her.
After visiting her grave nightly, he finally decided that he wanted to take the woman home with him! He spent seven years with the decaying corpse, all the while replacing the decomposing body parts. He would hold her bones together with wire and made a wax mask to replace her morbid face. A tube was even found in her vagina, presumably used for necrophiliac acts. He was eventually caught, tried for grave robbing, and let go due to an expired statute of limitations. He died several years later and was found in the arms of a wax replica of Maria.
13 A Friendly Costume Turns Deadly
This is a picture of a Swedish school teacher posing with two people who he would soon murder with that very sword. It was just like any ordinary day when this teacher showed up for work, except that he decided to wear an elaborate costume for no reason. Many people found this odd but thought nothing of it. They even asked him to pose for photographs so they could share the image on social media! But moments after, he decided to use his sword as an actual weapon instead of just a harmless prop. He ended up murdering several people and injuring a few more. Next time you see someone carrying around a sword, remember- swords can be cool, but make sure it’s not a real one and not something they intend on using on you.
12 At Least These Children Are In One Piece?
Remember those parents who decided to sell their dead children’s body parts? Well, although this picture is horrifying, you could argue that it’s better in that at least the mother didn’t kill the children first. Maybe so, but in this photograph, the mother was not at all suffering from a cannibalistic famine that had swept through the city. Although she appears to be weeping, the mother has decided to give her children up as a choice. The fathers had left her alone and she had another baby on the way. She decided to sell the children and use the money to start a new life with her new boyfriend. You might say "good," as at least the children will be getting away from their horrid mother. Unfortunately, they only wound up in the homes of even more sinister humans. They were purchased by farm owners who saw the children as nothing more than slaves. Decades later, the children were able to reunite and tell their story, but the tragedy they went through will never go away.
11 A Dark Eyed Young Girl
Some might say this picture is beautiful, others might find it a little scary. No matter what you think, you can definitely tell it is haunting before even knowing the backstory. The truth about this picture is that it was taken in the very last moments of her life. The girl is Omayra Sanchez, a 13-year-old from Colombia who found herself trapped under debris after a volcanic eruption caused a mudslide in 1985. Omayra spent a total of 60 hours in this position while she awaited rescue from the debris keeping her body partially submerged underwater. Rescuers tirelessly begged government officials for the tools they needed to lift Omayra out of the ground, but it came too late, and Omayra died waiting for help. In the meantime, many people were still able to talk to her and comfort her, trying to make her last moments as comfortable as possible. But when looking into her dark eyes, you can tell she already knows the fate that awaits her.
10 A Murderer's Apartment
When you first see this picture, right away you know that something is off. The white powder and bomb looking objects littered throughout give us a hint that some sort of terrorist lives in this apartment. Perhaps a member of ISIS? Nope, this is the apartment of James Holmes, the monster responsible for unleashing fire onto an unsuspecting crowd at the Aurora movie theater while they awaited the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. After he was captured by police, he admitted that his apartment was laced with explosives that would go off should anyone enter inside. Luckily, the bomb squad was able to take care of the situation and remove the bombs but not before snapping this photograph. It’s rather jarring to be able to see into the home of such a monster and knowing all of the terror that this one pathetic man caused.
9 A Concerned Mother
When you first look at this image, nothing is too out of the ordinary. But then you realize that the man was probably yelling at his wife as she cries and walks away. Domestic violence in itself is a pretty scary thing, especially when you notice the small child lying on the ground behind the two. But whatever you might think the terror behind this picture is, the backstory will still surprise you. The woman is Mrs. Thomas, the mother of the small child, Patricia, and the man who appears to be yelling is actually the chief lifeguard trying to console the woman. Just a few days before this, Mrs. Thomas was having a picnic with her husband and two young children, Patricia and Raymond. After wandering off for a moment, the children disappeared. Search and rescue teams hunted for hours and they eventually found Patricia’s lifeless body. The mother is crying at her discovery, and just moments later, they find the body of Raymond as well, both of whom drowned in the water just the day before.
8 A Father Who Made A Mistake
This is a picture that you have to look at a bit closely to really see the terror in the photograph. At first, it just looks like several people of a different culture sitting around on a porch. But when you look closely, it appears that a human foot and hand sit in front of the man. This no doubt turns the photograph into something terrifying. The man is a rubber worker in Congo, who, unfortunately, did not meet his quota for the day. As punishment, his young daughter was killed and all that was left was her foot and hand given to the man as a reminder of what happens when you don’t perform well at work. As if that wasn’t enough, his young daughter’s remaining body was cannibalized as well. We can only hope that this man was attempting to plot his revenge after this terrible photograph was taken.
7 The Last Jew
The title of this photograph is “The Last Jew of Vinnitsa,” and you can probably imagine why. Without knowing the backstory of the photograph, you can imagine the terror that surrounds it suggested by the casual soldiers behind the two men in the forefront as well as the pit of bodies below the man about to meet his fate. If you try pretty hard, you might be able to count how many bodies lie in the pit, but there are surely less than 20, right? The reality of the situation is that he was indeed the last of the Jewish prisoners to be murdered in Vinnitsa. But he wasn’t the last of 20 or so, he was the last of 28,000 Jewish prisoners! That is a startling number, especially when given such a glimpse of the body pit. And the looks on the soldier’s faces cause us so much anger. What kind of monster stands casually by as they watch a massive group of people get wiped out?
6 A Model Posing
Honestly, nowadays it isn’t that out of the ordinary to see a woman tied up in bondage. As the growing trend of BDSM would indicate, this type of photograph isn’t too out of the ordinary to us. Especially if you knew that the woman in this photograph was an aspiring model! But she was definitely not at all interested in being the subject of this terrible man’s photographs. The woman is Judith Dull, her photographer, Harvey Glatman. Harvey Glatman was a serial killer known for posing as a professional photographer. He would lure his victims in by promising them successful modeling careers. He would then overpower them, rape or torture them, and finally murder them. Unfortunately, Judith Dull did meet her fate behind his lens. The scary part is that she doesn’t appear that frightened yet either. At this point, she might have still believed he would let her go if she just posed for a few photos.
5 The Remains Of Jonestown
When you first look at this photograph, it’s hard to make out what exactly the subject of the picture is. But quickly enough, you realize those are all bodies lying on the ground in the photograph. Before it becomes too spine-chilling, without knowing the origin of the picture, you might think it’s just some sort of demonstration, or perhaps you start wondering what exactly the truth behind these pictures really is. The reality of the situation is that these are all victims of the Jonestown Massacre. The bodies pictured here were all cult members under the direction of their leader, Jim Jones, who forced them all to drink poisoned punch, resulting in a mass suicide that caused over 900 deaths. It’s utterly disturbing trying to imagine what this scene looked like moments before this terrifying incident occurred.
4 A Masked Murderer
The picture above was the only evidence people had for a while of “The Beast of Jersey.” This monster was known for terrorizing the town late at night, looking for his next victim. For ten years, The Beast of Jersey was on the loose, always causing mysterious cases of missing children, taking them right from their beds while they slept. He was eventually discovered, and it was revealed that he was actually just a seemingly pretty normal dude, family and all. He murdered children in order to offer them as sacrifices to his lord and savior, Satan. To this day, there is no way of knowing just how many children this monster actually murdered, but his story is tragic for the victims no matter how many there were. Imagine being an innocent child, sleeping peacefully in your own bed, when out of the blue this man creeps into your window and snatches you away for eternity.
3 A Prisoner In Her Own Home
The woman in the photograph is Blanche Monnier, and her story is a rather tragic one. At first glance you can easily tell right away that something terrible has happened to her. She looks like a living human skeleton. But the reality behind the photograph is unimaginable. Blanche found herself falling in love with a man that her family did not approve of. Out of the blue, Blanche disappeared shortly after announcing her plans to marry this broke lawyer that her mother did not want her to marry. People just assumed that she had run away, and this was believed for 25 years. That is, until someone tipped the police off with the idea that there was a spinster living in chains in someone’s attic. And so Blanche was discovered- in her mother’s attic weighing only 55 pounds! Her mother had kept her captive in order to prevent her from marrying a man the mother didn’t like. Her mother died in prison and Blanche unfortunately died a few years later in a sanitarium.
2 A Little Girl's Drawing
Right away you can tell that something is most certainly wrong in this photograph. The drawing looks like something straight out of The Ring, and the little girl’s face is filled with terror. The little girl in the photograph is named Tereska, a refugee saved from a concentration camp in Poland not too long before this photograph was taken. When asked to draw “home” on the blackboard, this is what she decided to draw. Unfortunately for her, the only home she seemed to remember at this point was a bunch of scratches and nonsensical images leading us to realize the horrors that this small child was forced to endure. Other children were asked to participate in the project as well, but none of them gave as quite distressed drawings as Tereska had. Most just drew their families before they were sent to camp, but for Tereska, those sweet memories were replaced by terrifying ones.
1 A Friend Left Behind
Catacombs can be pretty terrifying places. Knowing there are deep man made caves below the ground is scary in itself once you begin to imagine all the possible evils that could lurk inside of them. Most of the time, catacombs are hard to find in the first place, and if you do, they’re most likely illegal to enter. That is because they are dangerously unsafe and extremely easy to get lost in. Well, the legend behind this decomposing body found in Odessa Catacombs will make you scared of ever going near one again. The story goes that a group of friends were spending New Year’s Eve partying in 2005 when they decided to hang out in a catacomb they stumbled across. For whatever reason, one of the group got lost, and they never found her again. It was likely she had gotten lost and died either from the cold or from starvation. Once this body was discovered, there was no way to actually link it to the missing girl, but many assumed it to be her. Regardless of who this body belonged to, it was a rather tragic occurrence under any circumstance. The scariest part of these catacombs is that without a flashlight, it is completely dark the entire time.