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25 Creepy Photos That Will Give You the Chills

If a picture is, indeed, worth 1,000 words, then here are at least 25,000 of the most creepy and chilling words you'll ever experience.

Country homeAP/Shutterstock

A quiet country home?

What looks like a lovely country home in upstate New York is actually one of 42 buildings that made up the Trudeau Sanitorium for people with tuberculosis (before the advent of current antibiotic treatment). Located in the Adirondack Mountains, this was America’s first such sanitorium. If you look carefully at the photo taken in 1948, you can see a white-clad nurse ascending the front steps to care for her patients.

Murder victim modelCEK/AP/Shutterstock

Creating a model of a murder victim

Between 1972 and 1978, John Wayne Gacy, Jr. murdered at least 33 men in Cook County, Illinois. In 1980, forensic artists were recruited to reconstruct the facial features of nine unidentified victims so that photos could be released by the media in an attempt to identify them. Gacy was known as the “Killer Clown.”

creepy clownMGM/Kobal/Shutterstock

Creepy clown

This 1928 image of Lon Chaney as a super-creepy clown (a still from the silent film, Laugh, Clown, Laugh), may be another reason people are afraid of clowns. If you find these photos creepy, you’ll be super creeped out by these chilling stories that’ll make you believe in ghosts.

ghostly figuresKarl F. Schofmann/imageBROKER/Shutterstock

Ghostly figures

The ghostly figures shown in this mural in the Karl-Lehr-Strasse tunnel in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, depict the 21 young people who died in a stampeded in 2010 at Loveparade, a German dance music festival. Five hundred others were injured in the devastating tragedy. If these creepy photos aren’t creepy enough for you, don’t miss these 10 true ghost stories that haunt people all over the world.

Highgate cemeteryJane Hobson/Shutterstock

Death’s relentless pursuit

Death is one of life’s realities, and yet the notion of death remains mysterious, if not terrifying. One reason may be the way that burial grounds tend to become crowded, a constant reminder that death is always in pursuit. Such is the case with this eastern portion of North London’s Highgate Cemetery, resting place to close to 200,000 people since 1839, where the gravestones appear to be collapsing in on themselves. Find out the oldest cemetery in every state.

Highgate angelRob Greig/Shutterstock

The sleeping dead

Another haunting image from London’s Highgate Cemetery is of this statue of a sleeping angel. The reposing was erected, no doubt, with the intention of bringing solace to mourners, yet it so vividly conjures the image of death that it may haunt you in your dreams.

church struck by lightningDeadline News/Shutterstock

Church spire struck by lightning

An ordinary church spire. An ordinary act of nature. Yet the image of the damage a bolt of lightning caused to a stone church spire in Denny, Scotland, feels more spooky than ordinary.

San Francisco EarthquakeUnderwood Archives/UIG/Shutterstock

San Francisco Earthquake

The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 was another “natural” event that wrought devastating destruction to the lives and plans of the unsuspecting humans in its path. These Victorian homes on Howard Street near 17th Avenue were among the 28,000 homes destroyed in the disaster. It’s estimated that approximately 3,000 lives were lost in total.

Burnt soccer ballThanassis Stavrakis/AP/Shutterstock

The remains of a fire

As a result of a wildfire in Mati, Greece this year, more than 86 people were either killed by the flames or drowned while trying to flee into the nearby sea. Local fisherman and private boat owners were able to save many more, but the sight of a burnt soccer ball is a haunting reminder of the devastation left behind.

Janet Fay murder locationMatty Zimmerman/AP/Shutterstock

A lonely crime scene

Between 1947 and 1949, a divorcee by the name of Martha Beck and her boyfriend, Raymond Fernandez, went on a killing spree, murdering as many as 20 women whom they’d met via newspaper personal ads. After the so-called “Lonely Hearts Killers” were apprehended for the murder of Delphine Downing and her two-year-old daughter, Rainell, the investigation took police to this basement in Queens, New York, where the body of another of the victims, Janet Fay, was unearthed from beneath the floor. These are the haunted house mysteries no one can explain.

Janet Fay murdererMurray Becker/AP/Shutterstock

The doomed Lonely Hearts Killers

In this 1949 photo, the Lonely Hearts Killer, Martha Beck, meets with her attorney in an anteroom of the Bronx Supreme Court in New York. This was the same day that Beck admitted to abandoning her two children to the Salvation Army a year prior so that she could be with Fernandez. Beck and Fernandez were each convicted of capital murder, and both were put to death via electric chair in 1951. Find out the most notorious criminals in each state.

George Washington graveAP/Shutterstock

A different George Washington, a different fate

The George Washington whose gravestone is pictured here was not the first president, but the first prisoner executed via electric chair in Texas. On the night of February 8, 1924, Texas executed a total of 28 convicts using its brand new electric chair.

Karla TuckerClive Limpkin/Daily Mail/Shutterstock

Deadly woman

This haunting image of convicted capital murderer, Karla Faye Tucker, illustrates why the public was divided over Texas’s decision to execute her on February 3, 1998. After Tucker confessed to murdering two people during a robbery, she made a public conversion to Christianity and captivated many in the American public with her charm and her claims of having reformed. Her execution (via lethal injection) was the first of a woman in Texas since 1863.

Gallows in SpainMiguel Angel Molina/Epa/Shutterstock

A legacy of torture

Pictured at the Olvidados Palace in Granada, Spain, these gallows were used to torture prisoners during the Spanish Inquisition. Here are some other historical facts you probably wish weren’t true.

Ghost shipMark Thiessen/AP/Shutterstock

Tsunami ghost ship

Ghost ships are haunting by nature, particularly when no one can really say what happened to the disappeared crew. But this ghost ship is haunting for a different reason. It was inadvertently launched into the sea as a result of a tsunami off the coast of Japan in 2011 (along with about 5 million tons of debris). Because it was a threat to maritime traffic and a potential threat to the environment, the U.S. Coast Guard sunk the ghost ship in 2012. Pictured here is the plume of smoke that remains. Creepy photos aside, these mystery ghost ships defy explanation.

Pirate ship treasureSteven Senne/AP/Shutterstock

Remains of a pirate shipwreck

Lots of creepy things can be found at the bottom of the ocean. This is one of them: a bell once belonging to a pirate ship (the “Whydah Gally”) discovered in the murky waters of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Hedda NussbaumCharles Wenzelberg/AP/Shutterstock

Hedda Nussbaum, New York City

Those who lived in New York City during the late 1980s will remember the tragic tale of Lisa Steinberg, the six-year-old girl who was beaten to death in 1987 by her “adoptive” father, Joel Steinberg. Steinberg’s then-companion, Hedda Nussbaum, is pictured here with six-month-old Lisa shortly after the illegal adoption, and long before Nussbaum became a late 1980s face of domestic violence.

Romanov familySovfoto/Universal Images Group/Shutterstock

The doomed Romanov family

In the wee hours of July 17, 1918, Russia’s entire royal family, as well as several of their servants, was murdered, bringing a swift and violent end to a 300-year-old imperial dynasty. The family had been imprisoned by the Bolsheviks since February of 1917. Prior to that, the patriarch of the family, Tsar Nicholas II, had made some ill-advised decisions, including leading the country into World War I in 1914, the same year that this photo was taken. Don’t miss these 10 urban legends that turned out to be true.

Influenza epidemic Nara Archives/Shutterstock

The deadly flu pandemic of 1918

While a dynasty fell in Russia, the deadly influenza pandemic was killing somewhere between 50 and 100 million people worldwide, including 675,000 Americans. For context, the AIDS virus has claimed “only” 35 million in the last four decades. Pictured here is a Red Cross truck moving the sick in October 1918.

Lady Victoria PerryHistoria/Shutterstock

A life lost to a deadly flu

Among the lives lost to the 1918 flu pandemic was that of Lady Victoria Pery (later Brady), an accomplished pilot, pictured here in 1914. Who knows what she might have accomplished had her life not been cut short?

Karl WallendeGeoffrey White/Associated Newspapers/Shutterstock

Karl Wallenda in a triumphant moment

Karl Wallenda, of the “Flying Wallenda” family of amazingly airborne circus performers, is pictured in a triumphant moment in 1978, just after he crossed the Tower Bridge in London by tightrope. Sadly, Karl died during a tightrope walk later that year in San Juan, Puerto Rico at the age of 73.

space shuttle challengerSteve Helber/AP/Shutterstock

The Challenger explosion

On January 28, 1986, the tenth flight of Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart a mere 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members, including a school teacher, Christa McAuliffe, who’d been selected from more than 11,000 applicants to participate in the NASA Teacher in Space Project.

SmallpoxUniversal History Archive/Shutterstock

The ravages of smallpox

Almost two centuries after the English doctor, Edward Jenner, discovered what would become the vaccine that would eventually annihilate smallpox, on May 8, 1980, the 33rd World Health Assembly officially declared the world free of this disease. Pictured here is one of the last people to have been infected with smallpox, a child in Bangladesh in 1975.

Polio wardShutterstock

The ravages of polio

Another illness that no longer steals lives, thanks to vaccines, is polio. This 1955 photo of an emergency polio ward at Haynes Memorial Hospital in Boston, where patients whose illness had affected their respiratory systems were kept in “iron lungs,” depicts the days when polio was still rampant. Boston’s polio epidemic hit a high of 480 cases that summer. See more photos showing what life was like in the ’50s.

Autopsy tableSimon Belcher/imageBROKER/Shutterstock

Autopsy table

On this table, an autopsy has just been performed, and another one will soon begin. (An autopsy is a postmortem examination to discover the cause of one’s death.) It’s hard to imagine a colder, more clinical view of the end of life. Next, if you’ve had enough of creepy photos, then find out the creepiest urban legends from each state.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.