Crimes usually aren't pretty, so it goes without saying crime scene photos can be disturbing. The images of dead bodies, pools of blood, and murderers on rampages act as both haunting reminders of our mortality and the savage capabilities of human depravity.
Not all photos of crimes scenes are modern - some date back to the 1930s, showing that no matter how much society advances, gruesome crime still occurs. Photographs, as opposed to live video, only capture a singular moment in time, leaving the viewer to dwell upon the horrific details frozen before them.
The 1929 St. Valentine's Day Massacre was the culmination of rival mafia gang wars between Al Capone and George "Bugs" Moran. Both ran bootlegging operations at the time - the height of Prohibition - and fought over the same turf, the city of Chicago. On February 14, 1929 a group of unknown men believed to be members of Capone's gang forced seven of Moran's men to line up against a brick wall.
Moran's men were then brutally slaughtered by machine gun fire. Around 70 shots were fired at them, and most hit their targets. To this day, the murders are still officially unsolved.
On January 15, 1947, Elizabeth Short, posthumously dubbed the "Black Dahlia" by local newspapers, was found dead in a vacant lot in Los Angeles. Her naked body had been cut in half, mutilated, and then posed in the grass. All of her blood was drained, and her skin was scrubbed, making it clear that her murder and mutilation had taken place elsewhere.
Short's killer was never found, despite the fact that grisly photos from the crime scene were disseminated across the country.
On May 1, 1947, California native Evelyn McHale jumped off of the Empire State Building's observation platform, plummeting onto the roof of a car parked on a street below. The impact of her body crushed the roof of the car, and killed her immediately. However, in the famous crime scene photograph, taken by Robert Wiles, a photography student at the time, McHale appears to be simply taking a nap with her legs daintily crossed at the ankles.
Dubbed "the most beautiful suicide," the picture was published in Time magazine later on that month. McHale was only 23 was she killed herself, and left behind a note that read "He is much better off without me... I wouldn't make a good wife for anybody," likely aimed at the fiancé she broke up with days beforehand.
William J. Gaynor had been the mayor of New York City for less than a year when he was shot in the neck while on vacation. A disgruntled city employee, John J. Gallagher, upset at having lost his job, followed Gaynor onto the ocean liner, SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse. Gallagher confronted Gaynor, and wound up firing at him right as a picture was taken.
The photo was taken by a photographer from the New York World newspaper. Gaynor survived the assassination attempt, although he died of a heart attack three years later.