Scrolling through old photos can be fascinating. You’re instantly transported into another time and place. If you’re lucky, you’ll get some nostalgia and maybe a few laughs. But sometimes, the most innocent-looking photograph will give you goosebump when you read the backstory.
The sad violin
There’s something melancholic about a photo of an old violin. Maybe it’s because of the slow, deep music associated with it, or just weathered look of the old wood.
This violin is one of the oldest in the world, valued at $1.5 million. But the reason for its exorbitant value is heartbreaking. See those initials on the case? This violin belonged to Wallace Hartley, the lead violinist who died on the Titanic, He played it the night she sank, and the violin was later found floating in the debris field.
Nothing like a family trip to see the mall Santa, right? With Christmas decorations and the kids all dressed up, the holidays are a time of joy and good cheer… unless Santa is a psychopath, that is.
Behind the white beard is Bruce McArthur, part time mall Santa, full time serial killer. For over seven years, McArthur used a dating app to meet victimes and lure them to their deaths. He would then spread their remains among the several properties he managed. McArthur is currently serving life in prison after being convicted for his crimes.
Vacation pictures are the best right? It’s always so much fun to go back and relive those memories. Unless those memories are more sinister than you realized.
In this picture, YouTuber vlogger Sarah Funke was on a trip to the Red Lake in Cyprus. She’s at the edge of the water, ignoring the nearby log. Except it wasn’t a log at all. It was a half-sunken suitcase. And two years later, it would be open and its contents revealed to the world. This seemingly innocuous suitcase actually contained the victim who had gone missing.
Father knows best
This looks like the classic photo of a happy family. Everyone is all dressed up and smiling, and it looks like the perfect picture to frame in the living room. Except no one really wants this memory.
The man in the photograph is John List. In 1971, not long after this photo was taken, he lost his job. Unable to cope with the lack of income and humiliated by the thought of having to go on welfare, he chose instead to kill his mother, wife, and children. He was captured 18 years later.
What comes next
The sunny vacation photograph seems so innocent, but the idyllic setting betrays the truth of what would become of these young explorers.
This is Lisanne Froon, one of two Dutch girls went missing while hiking in Panama. When one of their backpacks was found, cell phone data shows that they attempted to dial 911 just two hours after this photo was taken – and again 10 days after that. Partial remains were eventually found by locals. No one knows exactly what happened.
What lies beneath
Just a woman, warming her puppy in her jacket on a chilly day. What could be so wrong with this picture? Well, it’s not just who she is, it’s what she’s looking at.
This is Myra Hindley, in a photo taken by Ian Brady. The pair are among England’s most notorious and violent criminals. Though it looks like she just just looking at the ground here, what Myra is actually looking at is the final resting place of one of the duo’s victims. She knows because they put them there.
Fighting for their lives
Just a group of guys, hanging out and enjoying their flight. There’s nothing chilling about this particular picture. But that’s because the people in the photo didn’t end up where they thought they were going. Where they were going was much worse.
This is a Uruguayan rugby team, and this picture was taken just before their plane crashed into the Andes mountains. The survivors were stuck in the mountains for months, and had to retort to some unsettling acts in order to survive – which not all of them did. Some of them eventually made it out of the mountains, and their horrific story has been documented in books and a movie.
A teenager with a red Solo cup at a house party – almost every high school student’s social media is full of pictures just like this one. Except this was no ordinary teenager, and this was no ordinary house party.
This is Tyler Hadley. He’s hosting his party at his parent’s house, cool as can be. He’s drinking an having fun with his friends.
But he was hiding a big secret.
That same day, Hadley had killed both of his parents.
They were still in the house when all his friends came over. His friend, in the picture, upon realizing what he had done, turned him in. But knowing he would never see his friend again, he asked him to take a picture together.
This is just a picture of a private jet. Surely there’s nothing creepy here? Well, it’s not just the jet, it’s what would happen with it later.
That’s because this jet belonged to golfer Payne Stewart. In 1999, Stewart and five others took off on the jet’s final flight. Shortly after takeoff, the cabin lost pressure, and all passengers succumbed to the lack of oxygen.
Eventually the jet strayed from its path, and was intercepted by USAF fighter jets. As the jet approached the Canadian border, on a path to Winnipeg, the Canadian Air Force prepared to have to shoot it down. Instead, Stewart’s jet ran out of fuel and crash landed in South Dakota.
A shadow of their former self
At first glance, it looks as though this photo is of the ground, with the shadow of an elderly citizen walking with a cane cast by a late afternoon sun. But that shadow was actually all that was left of that person.
This photo was taken in Hiroshima, Japan, in the aftermath of the U.S. atomic strikes on the Japanese cities. The force was so massive, people were vaporized in place, only tiny specks of where they were etched into the stone by sheer force.
Stairway to heaven
In February of 2015, hiker Daylenn “Moke” Pua set out to hike up Haiku Stairs, also known as the ‘stairway to heaven on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. He was never seen again. The stairs are considered dangerous due to lack on maintenance, and hikers are advised not to scale them.
The 27-year-old had been taking selfies and pictures of the scenery, which he texted to his friends and family the day he ventured to the mountain. When he didn’t return home that night, as concern grew, recipients of these texts reviewed the photos more closely. Upon closer look, in one of the scenery photos Pua sent, they noticed there appear to be what looks like a man crouching in the bushed, looking toward the trail Pua was one. Authorities were unable to identify him.
If you have any information about Pua’s disappearance or the man in the photo, contact Crimestoppers.
John and Jackie Knill were a Canadian couple on a romantic vacation in Thailand, a country they loved and visited often. One morning, the couple woke to see the beach looked different than normal – the tide was lower than they had ever seen it. They snapped a series of photos.
Unfortunately, the unusually low tide was one of nature’s warning signs that a tsunami approaching. By the time the couple realized these seemingly far away waves were much bigger and more dangerous then they appeared, it was too late. The couple was among over 225,000 casualties of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and the series of tsunamis that swept over large parts of Southeast Asia. The photos in their camera were recovered, however.
Below is the last known photo of Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend, Amy, in the fall of 2003 as they set out on an adventure in the Alaskan wilderness, Timothy Treadwell loved Grizzly bears and often ventured out to capture close up photos of the dangerous animals. He was so excited about the trip he not only extended the stay, but invited his girlfriend, Amy, out with him.
Amy chartered a flight and met up with Timothy, arranging with the pilot to pick them up a week later. When the chartered pilot returned to the location, he saw a Grizzly bear pacing in their camp site. It was later determined that the bear had attacked both Timothy and Amy, and neither survived.
In the 1800s, photography was in its earliest phases of development. Taking portraits required long periods of holding still to capture the right amount of light and exposure. It’s hard to hold perfectly still for an extended period of time, but even micro-movements would blur the resulting image.
In this family portrait, we can see that the father and mother have a little blurriness. The daughter (center), is much clearer than them. That’s because the couple’s daughter had passed earlier that day, and the greiving parents wanted to get a picture of her (possibly the only one) before they proceeded with her funeral.
This is home
This may look like an image of a girl scribbling on a chalkboard….and it is, but the context is what makes this photo unsettling.
In the aftermath of WWII, many children were left orphaned, homeless, in need of medical attention, and with serious psychological trauma. Numerous intuitions and organizations were set up to help these children.
A photographer for LIFE magazine visited one these, what was called a ‘home for disturbed children, where he met Polish orphan Tereska, believed to be around 8 years old at the time.
Her scribbles, as it turns out, is what she drew when the teacher asked her in Polish to draw her house and family. She had been saved from a camp at the end of the war.
This Los Angeles hotel’s daytime exterior disguises the bizarrely dark history that has occurred on the premises. The Hotel Cecil, now rebranded as Stay on Main Street, was the makeshift home of Richard Ramirez in the height of his Night Stalker spree in the mid 1980s.
Besides that, thee mysterious disappearance of Elisa Lam, as well as the footage of her bizarre behavior on the day she is believed to have crawled into the water tank she was later found in, happened in this bad juju hotel, among many other dark and mysterious tragedies.
In December of 2003, the Whitaker family went out to dinner to celebrate that Bart Whitaker, the family’s youngest son. Little did they know that Bart, the man of the hour, had been lying to them about attending school and wasn’t graduating – he had been lying to them about it for some time.
In order to avoid being exposed – and get the family’s inheritance, Bart had arranged a hit on his family for later that night. When the family returned home later that night, the man Bart had hired attacked the whole family. His father survived the attack, but his brother Kevin, pictured here earlier that night with Bart, did not.
‘Down the hill’
In 2017, two teen girls, 13-year-old Abigail Williams and 14-year-old Libby German, were dropped off at Delphi Historic Trails in Indiana. The two wanted to get some fresh air outside, and took pictures and Snaps of their walk. The two would later be found in the park. They had been fatally attacked. Looking back over their images, authorities noticed that in many of the photos the girls had taken that day, a mysterious figure can be seen in the background, now believe to be their attacker stalking them.
The figure appeared in so many of their photos, there was speculation that they had noticed the man following them and took photos for that reason. The figure can he seen in this image in the center on the far end of the bridge. When the girls were found, their phones were recovered, and a recording from that day contained an audio recording of the man directing th girls ‘down the hill.’ As of now, he has not been identified, and the case is still open.
If you have any information about this case or the man in the photo, notify Indiana authorities.
In a remote region of Alaska lied a small, abandoned town called Portlock. It was abandoned for good reason – between 1940-1950, an inordinate amount of the town’s residents went missing, never to be found again, or were later recovered from a nearby lagoon with signs of a fierce attack.
The natives in the region told the settlers that the surrounding forests were home to a half-man, half-beast creature that could be responsible for the mysterious deaths. By late 1949, the town was so paralyzed with fear after a rash of disappearances of residents,, at which point the remains residents decided to flee the area for good.