From a photo of a lethal snake bite to a picture of an assassin pulling the trigger on his gun we take a look at 10 real photos with unsettling backstories.
10. Parachute Test From Eiffel Tower
On the 4th of February, 1912, French inventor and tailor Franz Reichelt lept to his death from the first deck of the Eiffel Tower. Reichelt, who was testing his parachute suit had been granted a permit using a dummy but decided to test the device himself. Despite several attempts by his friends to discourage the jump, Reichelt was determined to test the design himself believing that the sensationalism of a live jump would attract sponsors for his design.
In front of spectators and reporters who had gathered to witness the act, Reichelt jumped from the first viewing platform only 57 metres (187 ft) above the ground. He smashed into the icy ground below after his parachute failed to open, dying instantly from the impact. The next day photographs of the grizzly accident appeared in newspapers throughout France.
9. Assassination Caught On Camera
On New Year’s Day, 2011, Filipino politician Reynaldo Dagsa was shot dead in front of his family while taking this photo. His assassin can be seen standing behind the car to the left aiming down the barrel of his gun. After the incident Dagsa was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead, killed by a gunshot wound to the head. This photo was turned over to police who quickly identified the shooter as well as his accomplice who can also be seen standing behind the family. The two seen here as well as a third accomplice were all arrested within a week of the shooting.
8. Lennon Signs Album For Killer
On December 8th, 1980, amateur photographer Paul Goresh captured this photo of John Lennon signing a copy of his album Double Fantasy for a fan outside his New York apartment. The fan, seen to the right was identified as Mark David Chapman, the man who would murder Lennon later that same night.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono left their apartment at around 5:00pm for a photoshoot with Annie Leibovitz and a recording session when the photo was taken. They returned around 10:50 pm where a waiting Chapman fired five shots at Lennon, hitting him in the back four times.
Chapman, who had a long history of mental illness travelled to New York from Hawaii specifically to kill Lennon, a plan he had told his wife who did not alert the authorities. It was later revealed that Chapman had a list of celebrities he was planning to kill including David Bowie, Johnny Carson and Marlon Brando. Bowie, who was good friends with Lennon and Ono was appearing on Broadway in the play The Elephant Man at the time. “I was second on his list,” Bowie later said. “Chapman had a front-row ticket to The Elephant Man the next night. John and Yoko were supposed to sit front-row for that show, too. So the night after John was killed there were three empty seats in the front row. I can’t tell you how difficult that was to go on. I almost didn’t make it through the performance.”
7. Killer Clown
The man seen in this photo is actually notorious serial killer and rapist, John Wayne Gacy. Gacy would appear at fundraising events, parades and children’s parties dressed as ‘Pogo the Clown’. Between 1972 and 1978 Gacy raped and murdered at least 33 teenage boys in Cook County, Illinois. He was sentenced to death on March 13, 1980 and spent 14 years on death row before being executed by lethal injection on May 10, 1994.
6. Broadcast Suicide
This photo of American politician and Treasurer of Pennsylvania, Robert Budd Dwyer was taken moments before his suicide. Dwyer was convicted of receiving a bribe from an accounting firm selected to determine compensation for Pennsylvania state employees who had overpaid federal taxes due to errors in state withholding.
on 22nd of January, 1987, Dwyer held a news conference where he shot himself with a .357 Magnum in front of stunned reporters. Dwyer’s suicide was later broadcast on television across Pennsylvania.
Dwyer maintained his innocence until his death and it was reported years later that William T. Smith, the prosecution’s primary witness had lied under oath about Dwyer accepting a bribe in order to receive a reduced sentence for his involvement in the incident.
5. Moments Before Disaster
This photo was taken by a Spanish tourist on the 15th August 1998, moments before the car exploded. The red Vauxhall Cavalier contained a bomb that killed 29 people and injured more than 220. The Omagh bombing as it became known, was carried out by the Real Irish Republican Party (RIRA), a splinter group of the IRA. The man and child seen in the picture managed to survive the horrific blast which claimed the life of the photographer whose camera was later discovered amongst the rubble.
It was alleged that the British, Irish and U.S intelligence agencies all had information that could have prevented the bombing but failed to pass on the intelligence to local police. Despite the immense devastation and vast amounts of intelligence no one was ever been convicted over the incident.
4. Lightning Strike
This photo of Michael and Sean McQuilken was taken at Moro Rock in California’s Sequoia National Park on August 20, 1975. The pic was taken by the sibling’s sister Mary just moments before they were struck by lightning.
“At the time, we thought this was humorous,” Michael McQuilken recalled. “I took a photo of Mary and Mary took a photo of Sean and me. I raised my right hand into the air and the ring I had on began to buzz so loudly that everyone could hear it.”
The temperature suddenly dropped and it started to hail so the teens headed back down the mountain. As they journeyed downward the bolt struck. “I found myself on the ground with the others,” Michael remembered. “Sean was collapsed and huddled on his knees. Smoke was pouring from his back.”
Sean was hit directly by the bolt which left him unconscious and suffering third degree burns. He managed to survive along with his siblings but another man was killed by the strike.
3. Lover’s Bridge Jump
This photo taken by a newspaper reporter in early 2013, inadvertently captured the moment a woman jumped to her death off the Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge in central China. The photographer was taking pictures of the thick fog that was surrounding the bridge at the time and after witnessing a man jump into the icy waters below managed to snap this pic of a woman jumping moments later.
The man was later identified by belongings he left at the top of the bridge as 20 year old migrant worker Liu Han. The unidentified girl seen in the photo was believed to be his lover.
2. Fatal Eruption
This photo of the 1980 Mount St. Helens volcano eruption in Washington was taken by photographer Robert Landsburg. Landsburg was killed by the eruption but his body was not discovered until seventeen days after the blast. He was found buried in the ash with his backpack underneath him. Inside his bag was his camera on which this photo was discovered. Landsburg, who must have known he was in danger had the presence of mind to rewind the film back into its case and place the camera back in the backpack moments before he was engulfed by the rapidly approaching ash cloud.
1. Deadly Snake Bite
This photo posted on Reddit by user gwtrull seems normal enough at first glance. But if you look below the woman’s right hand you can see a startled snake lunging upwards, about to bite the woman on the arm. The Reddit user who claimed to be a friend of the family seen in the photo said that the woman made a full recovery however the dog, who was also bitten by the snake died shortly after.