A picture is worth a thousand words and sometimes just as many nightmares. We live in a day and age where we can take photos with our smart phones, but back in the good ol’ days — better known as the the Golden Era prior to the ’90s — the quickest a person could get a photo developed was the minutes it took for a Polaroid to become clear. Before that it took days, maybe even weeks for pictures to be returned to their owners, and sometimes when they did, there were creepy gifts left behind that weren’t supposed to be in the original shots.
The unexplained photos that we’ve conjured up aren’t just those from the unexplained paranormal files, but they’re also disturbing photos of murder scenes or the last pictures taken of victims who just moments later met their end by the hands of notorious serial killers. These aren’t for the faint of heart or those who are scared of things that go bump in the night, but for those of you who can handle a little haunting, turn out the lights and proceed at your own risk!
15. Body Hanging From The Ceiling
Family photos are supposed to document moments that will be passed down from generation to generation, but this one from the Cooper family sent chills down the internet’s spine when it went viral a few years ago. It’s said to show four members of a family who just moved into their new Texas home. They took a photo while sitting at the dining room table and when it was developed the image of a falling body coming down from the ceiling was unintentionally captured.
Some people believe that the vintage photo was altered in order to stir up controversy and that the “falling man” is actually an upside down photo of a ballet dancer that’s been distorted to look ghostly. The picture has become its own urban legend as people have shared and reposted the image, and while there are those that have worked tirelessly to debunk the origins, it’s still given thousands of people nightmares.
14. The Sea Monster
You might want to rethink that trip you planned for a vacation by the lake after taking a look at what Robert Le Serrec said he saw at Stonehaven Bay, Hook Island.
Robert and his family were sailing around the bay in 1964 as the patriarch was snapping photos for posterity. It was then that Robert claimed they were all sent into a fright when a large, 30-foot tadpole-shaped creature crept up on their boat. He reportedly took a number of snaps of the terrifying creature before they decided to get into the water to get a better look. The snake-ish monster didn’t appreciate humans in its living space and opened its mouth wide to scare them off — a tactic that worked.
Naysayers claim that the effect was made using a long, dark, plastic sheet that was weighed down by sand. Real or not, it’s kept generations from swimming off the shores of Hook Island Bay for decades.
13. The Brown Lady
The eerie photo of the “Brown Lady of Raynham Hall” was taken by the photographers of Country Life magazine during a visit to the property. In 1936, Captain Hubert C. Provand, a photographer for the magazine, was taking photos of the staircase with the help of his assistant, Indre Shira.
“Captain Provand took one photograph while I flashed the light. He was focusing for another exposure; I was standing by his side just behind the camera with the flashlight pistol in my hand, looking directly up the staircase. All at once I detected an ethereal veiled form coming slowly down the stairs. Rather excitedly, I called out sharply: ‘Quick, quick, there’s something.’ I pressed the trigger of the flashlight pistol. After the flash and on closing the shutter, Captain Provand removed the focusing cloth from his head and turning to me said: ‘What’s all the excitement about?'”
Many believe that the photo shows the ghostly figure of Lady Dorothy Walpole, sister to Robert Walpole who is thought of as Great Britain’s first prime minister. Her husband Charles Townsend was known for having a violent temper and legend states that when he learned that she was unfaithful he locked her in various rooms in the house until she died from smallpox in 1726.
Over the years professionals claim that the “Brown Lady” is really just a case of overexposure, but that doesn’t explain the other sightings since the first in 1835. Her eyes are sunken, her face glows, and her spirit feels menacing enough that it’s caused dozens of staff members to quit.
12. Skunk Ape
The last thing anyone needs wandering around the depths of the forest are giant apes with the odor powers of a skunk. Much the mystery of Bigfoot, a creature called “ape skunk” is apparently skulking around people’s backyards.
As the story is told, a woman in Sarasota County, Florida photographed a hairy creature rummaging around her backyard. She sent the mysterious photo to the Sheriff’s Department anonymously saying that a new species had been discovered. The picture shows a black hairy figure with tiny red eyes and snarling fang-like teeth. While the creature was never seen again, people believe she just saw a bear, which seems less likely since whatever is in that photo looks nothing like a lovable Baloo. You have to admit, the creature skulking in the undergrowth looks rather creepy. Its face in particular seems unlike that of any other animal.
11. Elisa Lam
What exactly happened to young Elisa Lam? The student from Vancouver was staying at the Hotel Cecil in Los Angeles when she suddenly disappeared into thin air. For days hotel guests complained about the water, some saying it was coming out of faucets a weird brown color while others told staff that the taste was terrible. A hotel worker was sent to the rooftop to check on the water tank, and inside he found Elisa’s bloated, dead body.
When investigators combed through security footage they came across bizarre clips of Elisa inside of one of the elevators. The 21-year-old was exhibiting strange behaviors as she pressed all of the buttons on the elevator before arriving at a floor. She looks scared, peeking her head inside and outside of the elevator car. She looks as if she’s talking to someone but no one can be seen, and she hides in the corner of the elevator as if she’s trying to avoid being seen by an unknown person. Elisa then walks off the elevator as if nothing happened, and she’s never seen again.
The Hotel Cecil has a reputation of being mysterious and haunted. “American Horror Story” based their “Hotel” season on the creepy lodgings, and many attribute Elisa’s demise as being just a part of the hotel’s legacy.
10. Floating Black Knight
Possibly proving that aliens are monitoring the earth, photos surfaced of a black or dark object that has been orbiting our planet. It’s been dubbed the “Black Knight” and no one knows its origins, but it’s reportedly been sending earth signals for a while. It was classified and kept from the public for a number of years before photos began to circulate on the internet.
NASA is aware of the floating object and it’s even been inspected by NASA astronauts, however it’s still not known where this satellite comes from. It’s suspected that it’s been around for 13,000 years. Some experts think that it’s just space debris or a thermal blanket lost during an EVA (Extravehicular activity), while others think that an unknown species from outer space is watching earth, waiting for the perfect time for contact — or an invasion.
9. Worstead Church Ghost
Dean Corll, a serial killer known as the “Candy Man,” is known for kidnapping, torturing, raping, and murdering at least 28 boys and young men with his two accomplices. His crimes were committed in Texas between 1970 and 1973, and Corll took photos of his victims.
A filmmaker named Josh Vargas visited Corll’s home and spoke with the killer’s mother who directed him to a school bus on their property. It was settled in an overgrown field and after her son confessed to the horrific killings, she boxed up all of his belongs and put them in the bus. They sat there for decades without being searched or inspected.
As Vargas looked through the items, he came across one old, grainy Polaroid picture of a young boy with a frightened look on his face. He was handcuffed next to a toolbox and seemed to be crying or screaming. It was taken inside Corll’s house.
The boy has never been identified and when investigators looked through photos of other victims, he doesn’t seem to be any of them either. He’s been classified as the 29th unknown victim and has remained a mystery.
7. Ghost Sailors
At the Naval Station Pearl Harbor, kids were playing sports inside of an almost empty gymnasium. It was team “picture night” and a professional photographer snapped photos not only of the players, but of the Ford Island gym itself. The photographer didn’t see anything unusual in any of her photos, but someone else captured something interesting.
In the corner of the gym on the right side of the photo, you can see the figures of three ghost-like men who look like they’re in the military. A long-time employee of the facility said that the gym was once a pool hall with a bar and a dance floor where sailors liked to get together and cut a rug. Also, ancient Hawaiians used Ford Island as a place to hold their ceremonies. Being a place of wonder and mystery already, it is quite possible that there are ghostly sailors who aren’t ready to say goodbye.
6. Tulip Staircase Ghost
One of the creepiest, unexplained photos that exists is this one depicting the aftereffects of the Hinterkaifeck murders. We know what happened: The six members of the Gruber family (including the maid) were killed on their farm. They ranged from ages 72 to just two-years-old, and the story leading up to the deaths makes these murders even more horrifying.
Just days prior to his death, Andreas Gruber told his neighbors that he came across footprints in the snow. They led from the forest to his farm, but there weren’t any footprints to indicate that the person responsible for them ever left. He also said he heard strange footsteps in their attic and complained that a pair of keys had gone missing. It gets weirder; six months prior, the family’s former maid quit because she claimed that the farm was haunted. The new maid that died alongside the family arrived the day of the murder and had only been there for a few hours.
It’s believed that on March 31, 1922, 63-year-old Andreas and his 72-year-old wife Cäzilia, along with their 35-year-old daughter Viktoria and her seven-year-old daughter Cäzilia were lured out to the barn, one by one. They were murdered and left there. Maria, the 44-year-old maid and two-year-old Josef, Vikortia’s son, were killed in the house. The toddler was murdered as he slept.
An investigation showed that there was evidence that the killer stayed on the property for days, even tending to the cattle. No one knows who could have brutally taken the lives of the Gruber family, and it seems no one ever will.
4. The Phantom Pilot
Mrs. Sayer was having a great time with friends visiting the Fleet Air Arm Station at Yeovilton in Somerset, England. It was back in 1987 and the group of friends were all smiles, taking photos while posing in various aircrafts, as you can see from the ear-to-ear grin on Mrs Sayer’s face in this photo of her sitting inside of a helicopter.
No one was with Mrs. Sayer when this picture was taken, however when the group looked through their vacation photos, there was an image of a man next to Mrs. Sayer. It looks like a man in a white shirt was in the pilot’s seat, but Mrs. Sayer insisted she was alone. The woman did, however, tell an investigator with the Society for Psychical Research that when she posed for the photo it was a hot day, but she remembered feeling suspiciously cold. Meanwhile, other photos that were taken of Mrs. Sayer in the helicopter didn’t come out clearly.
3. Regina Kay Walters
No, this isn’t a still from a horror movie, this is the real life, terrified look of 14-year-old Regina Kay Walters. The young teen and her boyfriend Ricky Lee Jones were runaways from Texas. The two disappeared and police believe that they were picked up by serial killer Robert Rhoades. Investigators suspect that Ricky Lee Jones was killed almost immediately while Regina was held captive.
After Rhoades was arrested, his property was searched and police found photos of Regina that, based on bruising and hair growth, show Rhoades kept her for a long period of time. He cut her hair and made her wear a black dress with matching heels, as seen in the menacing photo that shows the young girl cowering away with her arms held up, a photo taken right before Rhoades killed her in 1990.
Ricky’s body was found in 1991 in Mississippi, but his remains weren’t identified until 2008. Although we can explain how these two died, there’s still the mystery surrounding what happened to these teens in their final, fateful days.
2. Enfield Poltergeist
Horror films may take bits and pieces from real life occurrences, but nothing is more petrifying than the true story of the Enfield Poltergeist. In 1977, 11-year-old Janet Hodgson gave all appearances of being possessed by an demonic entity that had taken over her house. Witnesses including her family, neighbors, journalists, and even police claimed to have seen paranormal activity, but it was still disbelieved by the public. Furniture moved around on its own, voices could be heard, things would fly across the room, people would teleport from one part of the house to another, Janet’s voice would change and she would speak as if someone else was possessing her, and people were tossed in the air, such was the case of one of the children featured in this photo.
News reporters tried documenting the incidents but there were researchers who thought the children were playing pranks for attention. Under “possession,” a man named Bill Wilkins who lived and died in the house was using Janet as a mouthpiece. “Just before I died, I went blind, and then I had a hemorrhage and I fell asleep and I died in the chair in the corner downstairs,” Janet said with a male voice. Bill’s son, who was alive at the time, verified that was how his father died.
Photos of the levitating children have embedded themselves in pop culture, but there are those that still believe all we’re seeing are pictures of children jumping into the air. Ask the now adult Janet Hodgson, she’ll be certain to disagree.