They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. But they never said that those words would be something you would want to hear. Or see. There are beautiful works of art, like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or van Gogh's Starry Night, that once you lay your eyes on them you will never forget. There are stunning photographs, like those taken by the Hubble Telescope of the distant universe, that will stay in your mind forever. And then there are unsettling and disturbing pictures, like the following photos from unsolved mysteries, that you just can't unsee.
Admittedly, unsolved mysteries are fun. You can spend hours getting sucked into the black hole of the internet, jumping from Wikipedia article to Wikipedia article, learning about a vast array of strange and mysterious incidents — from grisly and shocking murders where the killer was not caught to unbreakable codes left behind by an unidentified corpse. These kinds of cases are fascinating. But reading a bunch of articles only won't give you all of the information. Words are great, but until you actually see photos, something is missing. And because we don't want anything to be missing, we found 15 of the creepiest photos from unsolved mysteries around and put them together for your viewing pleasure.
15 The Allenstown Four
Between 1985 and 2000, four unidentified female bodies were discovered at Bear Brook Park in Allenstown, New Hampshire. In 1985, the bodies an adult woman and a young girl were found in a large metal drum near the ruins of an old store. The cause of death appeared to be blunt force trauma, but they remained unidentified. In 2000, two more young girls were found deceased in a similar metal drum close to the first site. DNA evidence eventually revealed that the adult woman and two of the young girls were somehow related, but the third girl's relationship to them was undetermined. In January of 2017, it was announced that a man named Robert Evans, a convicted murderer who killed and dismembered his wife, was the father of the girl who was unrelated to the others. Police feel confident that Evans murdered the Allenstown Four, but since he died in prison in 2010, it is hard to know for certain.
14 Who Put Bella In The Wych Elm?
In England in 1943 four young boys were trespassing in Hagley Wood in Worcestershire and came across the body of a woman stuffed inside a wych elm tree. The forensic examiner on the case determined that the woman had been killed at least eighteen months prior to her discovery, putting her time of death around October of 1941 or earlier. Since England was dealing with this little thing called World War II at the time, identifying the body was a bit tricky. Nonetheless, two somewhat credible theories surfaced. One was that a man named Jack Mossop and a friend of his had put the woman in the tree after she passed out from drinking too much as a way to scare her out of her alcoholic ways. Mossop was sent to a mental hospital because of recurring dreams about a woman staring at him from a tree where he died before the body in the wych elm was discovered. Another theory was that a prostitute named Bella, who worked near the body's discovery site, was the victim. Ever since the botanical corpse was found, the phrase "Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?" (sometimes misspelled "witch elm") has been repeatedly graffitied on the Wychbury Obelisk.
13 The Lead Masks Case
In 1966, two electronic technicians from Brazil died under extremely strange circumstances. A young kite-flying man came across the pair of bodies on August 20 of that year in Rio de Janeiro. Both men were wearing a suit, a lead mask, and a waterproof jacket, and police found an empty water bottle nearby, as well as a notebook containing a rather odd message. The English translation of the message states, "16:30 be at the specified location. 18:30 ingest capsules, after the effect protect metals await signal mask."
No one is exactly sure what that message means, how exactly the men died, or what exactly they were trying to accomplish. A friend of the two men said they were "scientific spiritualists" and believed that they could contact aliens by ingesting various drugs. That would more or less explain things, wouldn't it?
12 The Black Dahlia
The murder of Elizabeth Short, also known as the Black Dahlia, is so insanely gruesome that we can't actually show you the worst pictures from that crime scene. Seriously. They are the stuff of nightmares. In 1947, Short's body was discovered on a vacant lot in Los Angeles, California. She had been horrendously mutilated and completely drained of blood. Her face had been slashed open from the corners of her mouth to her ears — kind of like Heath Ledger's version of the Joker — and her body had sustained numerous cuts, specifically on her thighs and breasts. Oh... and her body had been cut in half at the waist. If you look closely at the photograph above, the shape of the blanket covering Short's corpse gives that away. The murder caused a major media frenzy, but her killer was never caught.
11 The Hinterkaifeck Murders
On the evening of March 31, 1922, four members of the Gruber family, who were farmers in a small community north of Munich, were lured one by one into the barn and slaughtered with an axe. The killer next went into the home and brutally murdered the Grubers' two-year-old son and their maid, Maria, who had just been hired that day. The axe murderer lived in the house for the next few days, eating their food and feeding their cattle.
In the days leading up to the crime, Andreas Gruber, the family patriarch, told his neighbours that he had seen footprints leading to his farm from the edge of the nearby forest. He also heard footsteps in their attic and found a newspaper on the farm that was unfamiliar to him. And six months prior, the Grubers' maid quit, claiming that the place was haunted.
To this day no one knows who killed the Grubers or how long s/he had been stalking the family.
10 The Boy In The Box
The Boy in the Box was the moniker attached to a young murder victim found naked, wrapped in a plaid blanket, and left in a cardboard box in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1957. Despite the best attempts by the police and widespread media attention, the true identity of the boy has remained a mystery. He is also known as "America's Unknown Child" and his beat up body showed signs of malnourishment when it was discovered. In fact, he was in such bad shape that investigators were unsure of his age, giving a range between three and seven years old. Suspicion initially fell on a nearby foster home, but it was cleared of any wrongdoing. In 2002, a woman only going by "M" told police that her extremely abusive mother purchased the boy in 1954 and accidentally killed him by slamming him into the floor. Unfortunately her claim has never been proven or disproven.
9 The Dyatlov Pass Incident
Mountains have a long history of taking the lives of those who chose to climb them, but few have done so in the strange, unexplainable way that the Ural Mountains killed nine hikers in 1959. Theories have ranged from an avalanche to a Yeti to aliens or Soviet death rays. You know when the theories stretch from natural phenomenon to extraterrestrials that the circumstances were pretty freaky.
A number of the hikers were found stripped down to their underwear and appear to have died of hypothermia, which makes sense seeing as being naked in the mountains is a good way to freeze to death. But the other victims seem to have died from physical trauma, including one who had brain damage but no external signs of trauma. One female hiker's tongue was missing. Investigators finally settled on an "unknown compelling force" as being the cause of their deaths. So, really, no one has any idea what happened to them.
8 The Atlas Vampire Case
In Sweden in 1932 a prostitute by the name of Lilly Lindestrom was found super, super dead in her apartment in the Atlas area of Stockholm. And we when say, "super dead," we mean it. Lilly was discovered naked and appears to have engaged in some sort of sexual activity before her death, which makes a lot of sense considering her profession. She also had a pretty nasty case of a crushed skull and most, if not all, of her blood had been drained. Hence the "vampire" moniker. And to add another level of the creepies to this case, investigators found a gravy ladle next to the body, which they suspected was used to drink Lilly's blood. So if this was a vampire, it was a very proper vampire who didn't just jab his fangs into someone's neck and hope for the best. No, this vampire used a ladle to delicately imbibe his victim's blood.
7 The Tamam Shud Case
We recently went into a lot of detail on the Tamam Shud Case and all its bizarre details. Honestly, it's hard to sum up in a short paragraph or two, but we'll give it a shot.
In 1948, the unidentified body of a middle-aged man was found on a beach near Adelaide, Australia. The coroner couldn't figure out exactly how he died, but found a secret pocket in his trousers containing a piece of paper with the words "Tamam Shud" printed on it. The paper, it turns out, was torn from an extremely rare edition of a book of ancient Persian poetry. When police finally found the book, it contained a mysterious code that no one has been able to crack, as well as an unlisted phone number, which led them to a young nurse, who acted really weird but adamantly denied knowing the dead guy.
Add a strange suit case, rumors of Russian spies, a number of suspicious deaths close to the case, the unusual clothes worn by the cadaver, and a whole variety of other oddities, and you've got yourself one of the strangest unsolved crimes in recent memory.
6 The Disappearance Of Tara Calico
On September 20, 1988, nineteen-year-old Tara Leigh Calico disappeared while on a bike ride near her home in Belen, New Mexico. It is assumed that she was kidnapped or murdered, but no one witnessed anything and no evidence of her, living or dead, has been found... with one exception.
On June 15, 1989, several months after Tara vanished, a woman found a disturbing Polaroid photo, pictured above, in a convenience store parking lot in Port St. Joe, Florida. The photo shows a young woman and a young boy bound and gagged on a bed. The woman in the picture strongly resembles Tara, including having a scar on her leg that matches one Tara received in a car accident. The boy has remained unidentified to this day.
5 The Jamison Family Deaths
Father Bobby, mother Sherilynn, and daughter Madyson were on their way to look at a plot of land near Red Oak, Oklahoma that they were thinking of buying, when they disappeared on October 8, 2009. The bodies of the Jamison family trio weren't found until November of 2013, but the medical examiner was unable to determine their cause of death or who caused it.
About a week after their disappearance, their truck was found abandoned with plenty of valuables and over $30,000 in cash inside, as well as the family dog, who was malnourished but alive. The photo above is allegedly the last photo taken of Madyson, snapped on the day before they vanished. Evidence suggests that neither Bobby nor Sherilynn took the picture... so who did?
To make things even weirder, in the months prior to their disappearance, the Jamisons told their pastor that their house was haunted by spirits, leading to speculation that witches or the occult may have been involved in their deaths.
4 Death Of Elisa Lam
Elisa Lam was a student at the University of British Colombia whose body was discovered in the water tank on the roof of the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, California in 2013, several weeks after she was reported missing. Police released security footage of the last known whereabouts of Lam from an elevator in the hotel. The young woman was acting erratically, exiting and entering the elevator several times, talking to unseen entities, and looking very distressed all the while. While some have speculated that her behavior was caused by the bipolar disorder that she was known to suffer from, others have offered more outlandish explanations, ranging from paranormal forces to murderous conspiracies. Officially, the coroner concluded that Lam's cause of death was accidental drowning, but the strangeness of the circumstances surrounding her disappearance have many wondering what really happened.
3 The Spontaneous Combustion Of Mary Reeser
The death of Mary Reeser is one of the most notable cases of suspected spontaneous human combustion. When her body was discovered in July of 1951, there wasn't a whole lot left except ash. Her backbone remained, as well as part of her left foot, and her skull was still intact, although it had shrunken noticeably. The FBI investigation officially denounced the possibility of spontaneous human combustion, claiming instead that Reeser's death was caused by the wick effect. Since the woman used sleeping pills, they suspected she fell asleep while smoking a cigarette, which lit her clothing on fire and subsequently her body, which had enough fat and other flammables to ultimately destroy the body. However, the rest of the room she was in was more or less unscathed by the flames, which would have been extremely hot in order to cremate her body. Also, physical anthropologist, Wilton Krogman, who regularly consulted for the FBI on similar cases, strongly refuted the FBI's conclusion. Ultimately, we really don't know what caused Mary Reeser's fiery death.
2 The Ocean's Severed Feet
For some reason, starting in August of 2007, severed human feet in running shoes have been popping up along the coast of British Columbia, Canada, and Washington, USA. Since then, sixteen separate feet have been found, and only five (belonging to four different people) have been identified. Only two pairs are among the sixteen feet, and all of the rest of them are, bizarrely enough, right feet. No individual left feet have been discovered.
While it is common for bodies (of murder victims, suicide victims, or sufferers of unfortunate accidents) to eventually decompose and separate underwater, the fact that only feet have been found is considered quite the anomaly. Some have suggested that many of the feet could belong to victims of the December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands of people. In theory the bodies (or parts of bodies) could have circulated throughout the Pacific Ocean for years before washing up on the coast.
1 The Max Headroom Broadcast Interruption
On November 22, 1987 someone hijacked a television signal in Chicago, Illinois. Twice. The first interruption took place during football highlights, but was mostly unsuccessful. Later that evening, during a broadcast of Dr. Who, another interruption occurred, lasting for about a minute and a half. The interrupting signal was a pre-recorded video of a man in a Max Headroom mask saying some truly strange and disturbing things, while occasionally moaning or screaming in pain. He gave the camera the finger, crushed a Pepsi can while uttering a Coke slogan, and was, at one point, accompanied by a woman in a French maid outfit, who spanked him with a flyswatter while he shrieked. During the 90-second freak show, he also sang, hummed, farted, made a reference to Michael Jackson, laughed, and mocked a WGN pundit named Chuck Swirsky. Unlike most of the other items on this list, no one died, but for some reason, this stunt is just as unsettling.