24-hour true crime network Investigation Discovery is one of the most popular cable channels in the U.S among women ages 24-54. The shows are based on some of the most appalling and depraved acts ever committed and around the clock every day we just can't seem to get enough. We just appear to be fascinated by terrible people doing terrible things - it aligns all of our moral compasses and allows us as a society to set the bar for knowing: "yes, this is what true evil looks like."
Criminology professor Scott Bonn explained to Time, "The public is drawn to true crime because it triggers the most basic and powerful emotion in all of us—fear. As a source of popular culture entertainment, it allows us to experience fear and horror in a controlled environment where the threat is exciting but not real."
So when we see scary images and read creepy stories there is something comforting in knowing we are at a safe distance. Although we don't want to slow down and watch these sinister crimes happen, something in our mind triggers our guilty pleasures and we just can't help but look...
18 Pogo the Clown
There are few serial killers in the world as frightening as John Wayne Gacy. During the 1970s, in Chicago, he lured 14 young men and boys to his quiet home and tortured them before killing in cold blood. He then hid the bodies in the crawlspace under his own home - married with a wife and two young children, they were unaware of his horrific crimes.
The reason why he got away with murder within the community was because everyone loved him. Known as "Pogo the Clown", he dressed in full costume to entertain families and even met with the mayor who thanked him for all the joy he spread. In 1994, he was sentenced to death by lethal injection. Before his death, one of his last sinister quotes was, "The dead won't bother you, it's the living you have to worry about."
17 Before the Amityville Horror
In 1976, when they captured this family photo together at their home 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, they had no idea that this would become one of America's most talked about horror stories. Above is the DeFeo children (back row, left to right): John, Allison, Marc. (Front row): Dawn, Ronald "Butch" Jr. Their parents Ronald and Louise are not pictured - the only surviving member of the family now is Butch.
At around 6.30pm, Butch burst into a local bar screaming, "You got to help me! I think my mother and father are shot!" When the police arrived at the family home, every member of the family had been shot in their sleep, execution style. After hours of police interrogation, it was discovered that Butch had shot all his loved ones in cold blood, he told the police, "Once I started, I just couldn’t stop. It went so fast." The case since became known as "The Amityville Horror Story."
16 The Real Ted Bundy
To his close friends, Ted Bundy was known as handsome, charismatic and kind. He worked late nights, answering calls for an emergency suicide hotline and was able to save the lives of others through his reassuring words. The blonde, attractive friend he is seen pictured with above would have no idea that during the 1970s he became one of the worst monsters alive.
Bundy stalked the highways around Florida, using his good looks and charm, he persuaded vulnerable women to get inside his VW Beatle. He then beat them, or strangled them to death, before hiding the bodies wherever he could. Before he was executed by the electric chair, he denied all charges - then weeks before his death he finally confessed to 30 homicides - although the actual victim count is believed to be much higher.
15 The Jonestown Massacre
On November 18th, 1978, cult leader Jim Jones instructed all members living in the Jonestown compound to commit suicide. 918 people died - a third of which were women and children. Jones started his cult, originally named the Peoples Temple, in Indianapolis, Indiana, but then moved to Redwood Valley, California in 1956 - he wanted this to become his utopia.
Concerned about what was going on within the compound and the treatment of the children, authorities launched an investigation. Panicked Jones told his congregation, "If these people land out here, they'll torture some of our children here. They'll torture our people, they'll torture our seniors. We cannot have this." He then urged everyone to quickly drink a punch that contained grape juice, cyanide, and Valium. The Jonestown Massacre was the most deadly single non-natural disaster in U.S. history until the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
14 Diving Into A Murder Scene
26-year-old Christina "Tina" Watson was enjoying her honeymoon in 2003 with her newlywed husband, David Watson. The pair had booked for a scuba diving trip in Queensland, Australia. According to Watson, his wife had been pulled under the water too deep and he was unable to save her in the strong current. Although another witness on the dive said he saw Watson "bear-hug" his wife, then as she sank, he swam in a different direction.
Then one disturbing photo added to the gruesome crime scene - diver son the trip had their underwater photos developed and Tina's lifeless body can be seen floating in the background. In court, the defense and prosecution argued between Watson killing his wife to cash in the life insurance or whether Tina died through her own lack of diving experience. In 2012, the case was finally dismissed due to lack of evidence.
13 The Final Hours of Elisa Lam
One of the creepiest videos that ever emerged online was the final hours of Elisa Lam. The 21-year-old Canadian student was staying at the Cecil Hotel in downtown LA when CCTV captured her erratic behavior. She could be seen running into the lift, trying to push the buttons for the door to close - which fails, then peering round the side as if something was chasing her.
Days after this footage was recorded, guests started complaining about the foul tasting water and the hotel found Lam's body face down in the water tank. Her death was ruled as accidental drowning - although experts argued she could not have closed the heavy water tank lid once she was inside. The hotel is even creepier considering serial killer Richard Ramirez was once a regular guest here and an unsolved murder (unrelated to Ramirez) happened in one of the guest bedrooms.
12 Minutes Before The Omagh Bombing
In 1998, Omagh bombing was a terrorist attack in Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, carried out by the Real Irish Republican Army. The bombs killed 29 people and injured more than 220 people. This photo was recovered from a camera found in the debris following the blast, the red car that can be seen in the background - a red Vauxhall Cavalier - was carrying the bomb that killed the innocent victims.
One survivor Jolene Jamison recalled, "I was in the kitchen, and heard a big bang. Everything fell on me - the cupboards blew off the wall. The next thing I got blasted out into the street. There was smashed glass everywhere - bodies, children. People were inside-out." Both the child and the gentleman in the picture, who were Spanish tourists, miraculously survived the incident.
11 The Last Photo of Travis Alexander
The last photo of Travis Alexander is haunting when you discover that his ex-girlfriend, Jodi Arias, took the picture of him in the shower, then stabbed him nearly 30 times. Seconds after this photo was captured, Arias took a shotgun and shot him through the head - a medical examiner confirmed that Alexander was already likely dead before the gunshot wound as she had severed his jugular vein. Some theories online believe that if Alexander's eye is magnified there is a faint outline of Arias before she attacks.
Arias was arrested after Alexander's close friend's said he had confided in them about an ex-girlfriend who was stalking him, accessing his Facebook account, and slashing his tires. Arias' plea that she acted in self-defence was thrown out of court and she was charged with first-degree murder in 2013.
10 CCTV of James Bulger and His Kidnapper's
In 1993, 2-year-old James Bulger was kidnapped in a busy Merseyside, England, shopping center, when 10-year-old Robert Thompson and Jon Venables distracted him from his mother then led him by the hand out of the building. CCTV showed Thompson and Venables looking at several children before selecting James as their target. The above footage shows them leading the vulnerable boy away.
They later revealed to detectives that their plan was to kidnap a child and push him into heavy oncoming traffic. They instead took James to a nearby canal and tortured him, before ending his life by dropping a weight on his head. When they were arrested, the public was so disgusted and due to the mounting number of death threats, both the boys (now in their 30s) have had their identities changed.
9 The Last Picture of Mother and Son
On July 14th, 2014, a regular international flight flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, known as Flight MH17, was shot down after contact was lost, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board. A Russian-made Buk missile over eastern Ukraine had been fired at the aircraft - the perpetrators were likely unaware the plane had lost signal and was carrying domestic passengers.
Just hours before the incident, 15-year-old Gary Slok and his mother Petra Langeveld posted this selfie to social media. They were on board Flight MH17 and traveling to a resort for single parents and their children. A statement from their surviving family members read, "Gary and his mother Petra were on their way to Malaysia to have the dream holiday of their life. Sadly they never got the chance to fulfill that dream. But his story and his last picture tell you how dreams of many people with wonderful lives ahead of them have been wrecked."
8 The Most Beautiful Suicide"
A photograph of Evelyn McHale, taken just four minutes after her death, is known now as "the most beautiful suicide." McHale jumped from the 86th-floor Observation Deck of the Empire State Building on May 1st, 1947. Nobody understood what caused her to jump and she didn't appear depressed to those closest to her.
In her coat pocket, there was a black pocketbook that read, "I don't want anyone in or out of my family to see any part of me. Could you destroy my body by cremation? I beg of you and my family, don't have any service for me or remembrance for me. My fiance asked me to marry him in June. I don't think I would make a good wife for anybody. He is much better off without me. Tell my father, I have too many of my mother's tendencies."
7 The Dyatlov Pass Group
In 1959, a group of nine hikers, led by Igor Dyatlov, failed to return from the northern Ural Mountains of Russia and a search party was sent to look for them. Mikhail Sharavin, a student who joined the search, reported they found the group's campsite but no survivors, recalling that “the (tents were) half torn down and covered with snow. It was empty, and all the group’s belongings and shoes had been left behind.”
Disturbingly, the tents had been cut open from the inside and footprints that belonged to the group led to the woods nearby - all the footprints showed the group were wearing only socks or barefoot as they ran, despite the temperature being around −25 to −30 °C (−13 to −22 °F) with a storm blowing.
Medical examiners found the cause of death for all nine hikers was hypothermia; they could have survived at the campsite but something caused them to flee – choosing to freeze to death instead of returning to the camp. The above photo is the last picture of the nine hiker's when they were alive.
6 The Tragic Life of Ocey Snead
In 1904, 24-year-old Ocey Snead was administered a lethal overdose by her own family so they could collect the $32,000 (roughly $850,000 in today's money) insurance money. For unknown reasons, Ocey was hated by her mother ever since she was born. When Ocey fell pregnant and gave birth to a daughter, her mother told her the baby had died, then kept her drugged on morphine and forced to stay in bed. The reality was the baby had been adopted.
When Ocey's family finally killed her, they told the doctor who visited the home it was suicide - even faking a note. Her family members were eventually caught out on their sinister crimes - they were found guilty of administering a lethal overdose, faking a suicide note and cashing out a fraudulent life insurance claim.
5 Last Photo of the Valentine's Dance Couple
On Valentine's Day in 1971, 19-year-old Jesse McBane and his girlfriend, 20-year-old Patricia Mann, went to a Valentine’s Dance in Pittsboro, Durham. The picture above was on that night and were never seen alive again. When they failed to return to their dormitories, their concerned roommates called the police. McBane's close friend told the police, "I knew immediately. I just got the sickest feeling in my stomach that something terrible had happened. She was a good girl. She went by the rules."
Then days later, a man found both of their bodies in the woods nearby. Their hands had been tied behind their backs with thick ropes - they had both been tortured to death side-by-side. Detectives never found who tortured and killed the couple - the case, still to this day, remains unsolved.
4 Tyler Hadley's Sinister Selfie
17-year-old Tyler Hadley sent his friend's a text message inviting them to his house in Port St. Lucie, Florida for a party - he added: "Don't worry parents won't be here." When the teenagers flooded his home, they partied away, completely unaware Hadley had bludgeoned his parents to death with a claw hammer.
Mary Jo and Blake Hadley's bodies were found in one of the bedrooms by their son's best friend, Michael Mandell. During an interview with ABC News, Mandell said, "(Hadley) says, ‘Mike, I killed my parents.’ And I said, ‘No you didn't, Tyler. Shut up. What are you talking about?’" Mandell said. “And, he said, ‘Mike ... look at the driveway, all the cars are there. My parents aren’t in Orlando. I killed my parents.'" Mandell then entered the bedroom where he found the bodies and called the police. In 2014, Hadley was sentenced to two life sentences without the possibility of parole.
3 Removal of Jeffrey Dahmer's Fridge
In apartment 213, 924 North 25th Street, Milwaukee, police found one of the most disturbing crime scenes they had ever come across. Serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer had murdered and dismembered seventeen men and boys. He kept the body parts in his fridge so he could consume them later - in the above picture they can be seen removing a fridge including a human head and heart.
His killing spree lasted for three years until 1991, when he invited a young man named Tracy Edwards back to the apartment in exchange for $100 to keep him company. Edwards noticed a foul smell at the apartment and became worried who he had agreed to spend time with. He managed to crawl out of a bathroom window and get free. It wasn't until the police arrived shortly after that he realized just how lucky his escape really was.
2 Myra Hindley Stands Over The Grave of Her Victims
Known as one of Britain's most sinister serial killer couples, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley earned the name the ‘Moors murderers’ after murdering five victims in the 1960s. They both met when working at the same chemical plant and quickly realized they shared an appetite for cold-blooded killing.
Their victims, one a girl aged only 16-years-old, were lured to Saddleworth Moor, usually through trusting Hindley as she was a woman, then strangled. Hindley was often seen carrying the cord she used to strangle one victim - delighted by the thought nobody knew of her crimes. The above photo was taken by Brady, he captured the moment Hindley was stood over the grave belonging to a victim, she smiles at the camera. She died aged 60-years-old, suffering a heart attack as she was behind bars.
1 The Last Photo of Regina Kay Walters
This terrifying picture is of 14-year-old Regina Kay Walters was the last known victim of serial killer Robert Rhoades. This photo of her was captured by Rhoades as she can be seen trying to defend herself. In 1989, he drove an 18-wheeler truck and would scour the country looking for innocent women to murder - his total victim count is believed to be more than fifty although he only confessed to killing three.
Rhoades was finally caught when an Arizona Highway Patrol officer noticed that his truck had stopped and the hazard lights were turned on. When the officer looked inside the truck, he found a naked woman screaming - the officer was able to free the woman and take Rhoades into custody. He now sits behind bars currently serving a life sentence.
Sources: Crime Feed, Bizarrepedia