[WARNING: This list contains images that may disturb some readers.]
A simple snapshot can live on for decades, gathering dust and fading as the world around us changes. Whether it be an image that forces you to question your faith in humanity or a photograph that defines an era, it seems that the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” can, in some cases, be true. These pictures, however, may just leave you speechless.
10A Normal Day In Omagh
On August 15, 1998, a car bombing took place in Omagh, Northern Ireland. It was carried out by the Real IRA and resulted in the deaths of 29 people, while further injuring over 200. The bombing took place during “the Troubles,” an ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland that lasted for over 30 years. The Omagh car bombing had the highest death toll of any incident during “the Troubles.”
The camera containing this picture was found buried beneath the rubble, boasting this snapshot of a quiet street moments before the impact of the bomb. One of the more poignant pictures published in the aftermath of the Omagh bombing, this image is now infamous. The serenity, the smiles, the unknown threat—it all makes for a truly harrowing image. One that inadvertently foreshadows a massacre, unbeknownst to the people in this snapshot frozen in time.
9The Final Moments Of Regina Kay Walters
Regina Kay Walters was a 14-year-old girl from Pasadena, Texas, who was murdered by a notorious serial killer, Robert Ben Rhoades. One of three victims—although Rhoades claims to have killed more—Walters was the unfortunate exception in the way Rhoades toyed with her. Rhodes cut her hair, dressed her up, and took pictures of her in distress—the most saddening of which is the picture you see above.
Robert Ben Rhoades was captured in September 1992, but not before taking two more lives. He was sentenced to life without parole and remains imprisoned in Texas to this day.
The picture of this young girl in her final moments—dressed, altered, and stranded with a monster like Rhoades—is a difficult thing to look at. The forceful nature of the lens being pointed at Walters and the look of desperation on her face make this picture a hideous display in human torture—a cat playing with a mouse. An image that will forever mark the breaking of one man’s psyche.
8Reynaldo Dagsa Assassination
Reynaldo Dagsa was a Filipino politician who was murdered by an armed assailant on New Year’s Day 2011. His murder gained worldwide notoriety due to the photograph he had taken of his family just seconds prior to the shooting, which captures the gunman aiming at Dagsa while his lookout stands guard.
As you can see in the picture above, Dagsa was snapping a shot of his wife, daughter, and another elderly female relative, when the shooter and his lookout appeared and were caught in the flash. The photograph was used as evidence by Dagsa’s wife, which lead to the almost-immediate arrest of both men, though it was believed that there was more to his death than what was originally perceived.
Although fascinating, this picture is a testament to the absolute absurdity of life: A man, only 35 years of age, at the very beginning of a new year, takes a picture of his loving family and simultaneously captures his own death in the lens? I guess it doesn’t matter who shot first.
7The Beas River Tragedy
On June 8, 2014, 24 engineering students from Hyderabad, India, lost their lives on a college trip when a sudden surge of water was released upstream from the Larji Hydroelectric Power Project on the Beas River.
The students of VNRVJIET were on an educational tour in Himachal Pradesh, traveling from Shimla to Manali, when the bus stopped so that the students could take pictures on the banks of the Beas River. Without warning, the floodgates opened and a torrent of water took the group of 24 by surprise, sweeping them away in an instant—an incident caused by gross negligence on the part of the Larji Hydroelectric Power Project.
While this picture should have been just another fond memory from a tedious college trip on the phone of one young student, it has instead become a harrowing look at the final peaceful moments of a group of friends who have now lost their lives.
The above picture—and the gaudy headline—used ever so eloquently by the New York Post (a paper generally not fit for cleaning one’s shoes), shows the final moments of Ki-Suk Han—a 58-year-old father and husband who was pushed in front of an oncoming train by Naeem Davis, a homeless man whom Han had argued with.
According to witnesses, Han may have initiated the exchange, drunkenly accosting Davis after leaving home intoxicated due to an argument with his wife. Although Naeem Davis blames his aggressive actions on multiple reasons—the voices in his head, drugs, and even a lost pair of boots (they were very nice boots)—he maintains that Han would not leave him alone, and that he acted accordingly upon being harassed. After originally pleading “not guilty,” Davis was later charged with second-degree murder after implicating himself in the investigation.
Regardless of the reasoning behind the death of Ki-Suk Han, this picture will forever remain a distressing look at the abrupt nature of death.
5The Public Suicide Of Budd Dwyer
Robert Budd Dwyer was a politician serving as a Republican member of the Pennsylvania State Senate for over 10 years. He later served as the Treasurer of Pennsylvania until the day of his death—January 22, 1987.
After being convicted of having accepted a bribe, Dwyer called a press conference where he was to announce his resignation. Upon being found guilty, Dwyer faced up to 55 years imprisonment and a hefty fine of $300,000—an unjust punishment in the eyes of Budd Dwyer, since, many years later, ex-attorney William T. Smith admitted to lying under oath when accusing Dwyer of bribery.
The press conference was broadcast live to television audiences across the state of Pennsylvania. After part of his original speech had been read out, Dwyer stopped reading from his prepared text and began to hand out envelopes to his staffers. From the final envelope, Dwyer then produced a gun and said, “Please leave the room if this will offend you.” As friends and fellow cabinet members from the audience pleaded, he spoke and stuttered under the weight of their words, quickly pulling the trigger before he could be stopped—dying in office.
If, for some odd reason, you wish to see the video of Budd Dwyer’s suicide on live TV, you can find it on Youtube.
4The Death Of Travis Alexander
You may have already seen this picture of 30-year-old Travis Alexander showering before being brutally murdered by his ex-girlfriend, Jodi Arias. It was widely distributed via news channels after the murder occurred. That cannot, however, take away from the impact the image has on the mind.
In 2008, friends found Travis Alexander dead in his home in Mesa, Arizona. He was found on the floor of his shower with 27 stab wounds, a slashed throat, and a gunshot wound to the head. Arias initially denied killing Alexander, stating that she believed he was murdered during a burglary, but she later changed her statement, saying that she killed Alexander in self-defense.
Jodi Arias is now in jail awaiting her sentencing trial, which will take place on September 8, 2014. You can view some of Arias’s original artwork here, if you’re into that sort of thing. Yet the chilling pictures of Travis Alexander in his final moments are not to be taken lightly and remain just as potent today as they ever were.
3James Bulger CCTV Image
In February 1993, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, both 10 years old, murdered two-year-old James Bulger after kidnapping him from the Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle, Liverpool. The details of this case were to send a shock wave of panic across England, forcing parents to question what their children were capable of and what they were exposed to. The infamous CCTV image of young James Bulger being led away by his killers would grace the news channels for months to come, and it would forever remain a haunting look at an infant in his last hours.
Venables and Thompson lured James Bulger away from his mother and walked with him, hand-in-hand, to a railway embankment 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) away from the shopping center. Along the way, the boys were stopped multiple times, being asked if they were lost, needed help, and also being urged to take their “younger brother”—who would not stop crying—home.
James was found two days after his death, tied to a railway line in Walton. His extremely horrific injuries were covered in the media and sparked outrage at the leniency of the court’s decision regarding the incident. Venables and Thompson remained in young offenders’ institutions for eight years, getting psychiatric help until the age of 18. They were released with new identities and subsequently given care and security by the government. Because the government is always looking out for the right people. Right?
2Mark Chapman Meets John Lennon
On the day that John Lennon died, the Earth stood still and mourned. In cities all over the world, distraught fans and music acolytes alike joined together and organized mass funerals in the name of one man. That was the kind of love that John Lennon aimed to inspire in people—a kind of musical kinship. Just one month prior to his death, John had released Double Fantasy—his long-awaited comeback album and his first solo effort in five years. This would be his final album.
On December 8, 1980, Mark David Chapman shot and killed John Lennon at the entrance of The Dakota (the building where Lennon lived) in New York City. The delusional Mark Chapman decided to target Lennon because of his fame—though he just edged out Johnny Carson and George C. Scott. “If he was less famous than three or four other people on the list, he would not have been shot,” Chapman told police.
It was merely hours after this picture was taken that John Lennon was killed. The quiet, unassuming fan waiting for his autograph in the image above is none other than Mark David Chapman. Along with being Lennon’s killer, he was, unfortunately, also the last person to be photographed with Lennon alive.
Life is a journey; death will always be rife among those wanting to travel further and change things for the better, but like John Lennon once said, “I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round.”
1Two Brothers On Vacation
In 1975, Michael and Sean McQuilken were just two smiling San Diego natives on a family vacation in California. Along with their sister, Mary, they posed for photographs with their hair raised, laughing at the strange situation, as others in the vicinity did the same. Moments after this picture was taken from atop Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park, the boys were struck by lightning, seriously injuring but—contrary to popular belief—not killing them.
This image has been recycled countless times over the years, mostly as a public service announcement to bring attention to lightning safety. The picture of the happy, carefree faces of the two brothers morbidly hints at the life-threatening danger that is imminent—a danger that, astonishingly, causes 24,000 deaths per year worldwide.
For that reason, this picture is still just as shocking now as it ever was.