The 13 Most Infamous & Haunting Crime Scene Photographs Ever Taken

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.

  • St. Valentine's Day Massacre

    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. 

  • Black Dahlia Murder

    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. 

  • 'The Most Beautiful Suicide' Of Evelyn McHale

    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's Shooting

    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. 

  • Manson Family Murders: Sharon Tate Murder Scene

    August 6, 1969 is remembered as the day the bodies of actress Sharon Tate (then pregnant with husband Roman Polanski's child) and five of her friends were found in her house in the hills of Los Angeles. They had been brutally murdered by several of Charles Manson's followers in an attempt to create a race war.

    The crime scene photos show the reality of the horrific murders - there were blood pools on the carpets, a cord was hung around Tate's neck, and there were hundreds of bullet holes in the walls and ceiling. 

  • The Calico Kidnapping Polaroid

    19-year-old Tara Leigh Calico vanished from her Belen, New Mexico, neighborhood on September 20, 1988. Almost one year later, on June 15, 1989, a Polaroid picture was found in a parking lot on the other side of the country - in Port St. Joe, Florida. An examination of the photo determined that it couldn't have been taken before May, 1989, and that the woman in the foreground of the photo had scars on her leg that were virtually identical to the ones on Calico's leg.

    The FBI determined that the woman in the photo was Calico, but additional investigations didn't turn up anything concrete, and to this day she is still listed as a missing person.