5. The Last Public Execution in America
This photo, taken on August 14, 1936, shows the last public execution in the United States. A crowd of up to 20,000 people watch in anticipation.
Rainey Bethea was the last prisoner in America to be publicly executed after he was found guilty of the rape and murder of 70-year-old Lischia Edwards.
Although the crime itself was heinous, a media circus grew around the event because the sheriff of Daviess County at the time was a woman. Her name was Florence Shoemaker Thompson. Hundreds of journalists from all over the country flocked to the town of Owensboro, Kentucky to cover what was supposed to be the first execution publicly performed by a woman.
However, unbeknownst to the public, Thompson had arranged for Arthur L. Hash, a former Louisville police officer to pull the noose’s trigger.
On the day of the hanging, Hash turned up drunk and right at the last minute refused to pull the rope to trigger the execution. The crowd watched on in confusion as nothing happened. Finally a young deputy police officer leaned against the trigger that sprang the trap door, dropping Bethea to his death.
4. Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Shadows
On August 6, 1945 a US B-29 bomber dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima that killed 166,000 men, woman and children. The blast was so intense that it left haunting impressions of the poor souls that were killed that day. This photo here shows the shadow of an elderly person with a cane permanently etched into stone.
3. The Elephants Foot
This is the elephant’s foot, one of the most dangerous objects on the planet. It’s a melted pile of radioactive material mixed with sand, concrete and core sealant. It’s found in the basement of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
When it first formed after the 1986 nuclear disaster, anyone standing near it would have suffered irreparable damage in seconds. Within 30 seconds, a person would feel dizzy and nauseous. By 2 minutes, cells in the human body would begin to hemorrhage. Four minutes would render a human almost helpless, suffering from vomiting, diarrhea and fever. By just 5 minutes, a human standing next to the ‘elephant’s foot’ at the time of formation would have been exposed to a lethal dose of radiation and would have died within 2 days.
This photo was taken many years after the disaster when radiation levels had dropped. Interestingly, this photo is grainy because of the radioactive fallout.
2. Loana the Bloodthirster
This is said to be a postmortem photo of a young girl who committed suicide by drinking her own blood.
Loana Constantinescu lived in a town called Timisoara in Western Romania around the turn of the 19th century. She was known to practice a very old religion known as Zoroastrianism which has roots to pre-muslim Iran 600 BCE.
Rumours spread that Loana was a witch. In October, 1909 things got out of hand when two local Christian preachers and their wives rallied a mob around Loana’s house. They dragged her from her home and beat her with sticks and rocks. She managed to survive and was admitted to hospital. Doctors tended to her wounds and released her two days later.
Several days after her release from hospital Loana Constantinescu was found dead. Witnesses claim her body laid at a makeshift alter, bunches of herbs and incense scattered about the room – strange esoteric symbols were written on the walls.
A local coroner found lacerations on her ankles and wrists and pronounced her cause of death to be haemochromatosis. It’s thought that she consumed several goblets of her own blood and died from a toxic amount of iron.
It’s hard to verify this story as there are very few historical documents referencing the life of Loana Constantinescu. Some critics have noted that if that is Loana in the photo why doesn’t she have any signs of the mob beating she received just days earlier. Others have suggested that Loana managed to restore her physical appearance through the ritual imbibing of her own blood but willingly passed through to the afterlife.
From here the story has a strange twist. The two preachers and their wives, who rallied the mob, all died within one year of Loana’s death. The first couple were burnt alive after a fire engulfed their barn. The second couple were crushed to death by a falling tree while out for a walk. Could Loana’s spirit have got vengeance from beyond this mortal realm? Or is this story one big hoax? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
1. Televised Assassination
This photo was taken on October 12, 1960 at Tokyo’s Hibiya Hall. It depicts the moment of impact during the assassination of Inejiro Asanuma, the head of the Japan Socialist Party. The attacker, seen on the right, is Japanese ultra-nationalist Otoya Yamaguchi. This still-image captures the moment he plunged a small sword known as a yoroidoshi deep into the stomach of Asanuma.
Several weeks after the incident, while being held in a juvenile detention centre, Yamaguchi wrote on a mirror with some toothpaste. The words read: ‘Seven lives for my country. Long live His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor!’. He then hung himself from a light fixture with his bed sheets.
So there’s our list of 10 real photos with creepy backstories. Did this listicle of rare historical photos pique your interest? If so, let us know on Twitter and Facebook.