16 Disturbing Photos With Terrifying Backstories

Warning – some images may be upsetting.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but you might not know what horrors lay behind the following photographs by merely looking at them.

Here are 16 disturbing photos accompanied by spine-chilling context. BE WARNED – you may find some images upsetting.


August 1998 in Omagh, Northern Ireland. The red car beside this father and daughter contained a car bomb which went off shortly after this photo was taken. The father and daughter survived but 29 other people, including the photographer, died.

The bombing was orchestrated by the Real IRA, an IRA splinter group protesting the IRA’s ceasefire and Good Friday Agreement.


Why is 17-year-old Tyler Hadley looking so sombre at his own house party? Isn’t he having a good time? Probably because he murdered his parents to throw the party (their bodies were hidden in a bedroom at the time this photo was taken).

He received two life sentences without parole.


The Monniers were a fairly well-off and well-thought-of family living in Poiters, France in the late 1800s. One day, their 25-year-old daughter Blanche went missing.

Another 25 years later, an anonymous letter landed on the desk of the Paris Attorney General:

Monsieur Attorney General: I have the honour to inform you of an exceptionally serious occurrence. I speak of a spinster who is locked up in Madame Monnier’s house, half starved, and living on a putrid litter for the past twenty-five years — in a word, in her own filth.

The police found Blanche locked in a rat-infested room with just a mattress, covered in her own filth, weighing 55 lbs and not having seen the sun in 25 years. She died in a psychiatric hospital 13 years later.


October 2014. Two maintenance workers embrace each other as they wait to die atop a wind turbine that caught on fire in Ooltgensplaat, Holland. Heartbreaking stuff.

A gunman identified as Michael Gonzales aims his pistol at local village politician Reynaldo Dagsa shortly before Dagsa was assassinated

Filipino politician Reynaldo Dagsa was out celebrating New Year’s Eve with his family and remarkably managed to capture his killer in a photo right before being assassinated. The killer’s accomplice can also be seen in the top right.

Thankfully, the photo helped lead to the assassin’s arrest.


UK readers will likely be familiar with this one — a chilling CCTV image of 2-year-old Jamie Bulger being abducted by 10-year-olds Robert Thompson and Jon Venables who would then go on to murder him at Walton & Anfield Railway Station.


Looks like a photo of a young girl posing awkwardly for the camera — if only that were the case. 14-year-old Regina Walters was photographed by her kidnapper and killer, Robert Ben Rhoades, moments before he murdered her in an old disused farmhouse.


California, 1975. This picture shows two brothers with their hair standing on end; the result of electrical charges in the atmosphere (how’s that for foreshadowing). Moments later the two bros got blasted by lightning, suffering third degree burns but luckily surviving. Another man that was struck died.


It’s pretty clear something massively screwed up has occurred in this photograph. The truth is rather shocking — 918 people had just taken part in the largest mass suicide in history in Jonestown, Guyana (via cyanide poisoning).

The 1978 ‘revolutionary suicide’ was spearheaded by Jim Jones; the charismatic leader of The Peoples Temple Agricultural Project.


This Polaroid photo was found in the car park of a supermarket in Port St. Joe, Florida in 1989. Shockingly, it features a young woman and a boy, both gagged and tied up.

The girl, Tara Calico, had gone missing a year earlier during a bike ride and to this day hasn’t been found. The boy’s remains were found in the Zuni Mountrains in 1990 — it’s believed he escaped but died before finding help.


Probably the most famous photo in this list — John Lennon signing a copy of his album Double Fantasy for Mark David Chapman, who then murdered Lennon just 6 hours later.


Columbine, 1999. This is, of course, a class photo from Columbine High School containing Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (chillingly holding up gun fingers in the top left) who would go on to murder 12 of their classmates, 1 teacher, and injure an additional 24.


A man takes an underwater photo of his wife in Queensland, Australia and captures a lifeless body in full scuba gear on the sea floor.

The body belonged to a lady named Tina Watson, who had been diving with her husband Gabe. An inquest suggested that Gabe had turned off his wife’s air regulator and drowned her, although a lack of evidence led to him going free.


This is a photo of American politician R. Budd Dwyer moments before he stuck the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger, live on TV.

Video footage of the incident is available online if you’re into that kind of thing.


Dean Coril AKA The Candy Man is one of the infamous serial killers in history. He and his accomplices David Brooks and Elmer Henley raped, tortured and murdered 28+ young boys between 1970 — 1973.

Coril was shot to death by Henley, who is currently serving a 600-year prison sentence. In 2012 a filmmaker was allowed to go through Coril’s personal belongings, and among them he found the above Polaroid of a terrified child in handcuffs.

The screwed up thing is that to this day, no one knows who the child is.


Back in the early 19th century, you had to stay very still for photographs for a few seconds while early cameras processed slow shutter speeds. Photos typically contained at least some blurriness, for example, the parents in this photo.

Why is their daughter in such sharp focus though? Because she’s dead. She died earlier that day and mum and dad thought they’d get one last photo in before saying goodbye. Totally normal practice back in the day.

Phew – that was intense. Time to check out some photos of cats wearing tights.


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