Photographs hold many stories behind the frozen moment. There is the story of the photographer, the subject in the photo, and the onlooker. Most of the images add more layers to the picture once you know the story behind them. Photographs have the power to remarkably express the eras and stories that it is trying to convey. Some tales are unsettling even though the pictures are ordinary. Here are some pictures with a disturbing backstory.
1. James Bulger in the picture was missing. The family was optimistic as he was last seen with other children. The truth was beyond imaginable, and to this day remains one of the cruelest, hard-hearted murders that you will ever come across.
James Bulger, born on 16th March 1990, from Kirkby, England was kidnapped, tortured, and killed by two 10-year-old boys. James was two years old at the time.
Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, on 12 February 1993, took Bugler when his mom looked away from him at the New Strand Shopping Center. He was reported missing, and his mutilated body was found on a railway line nearby two days later.
According to the CCTV cameras, Thompson and Venables were observing kids all day at the mall. They got hold of Bulger when his mom was paying. The camera shows him with the two boys, taking him out by the hand from the shopping center.
They dropped him in the Leeds and Liverpool Canal where he suffered injuries to his head and face. Almost 38 people saw the kid with the two older boys and no one interfered.
When the boys reached Walton, they hesitated as the police station was on the road facing them. Instead, they took him down to a nearby railway station where they tortured them.
The boys threw paint into his eyes, placed batteries in his mouth, and dropped a 10-kilogram iron bar on him. He had 10 skull fractures as a result of these blows. Alan Williams, the pathologist on the case, revealed that Bulger had 42 total injuries.
Thompson and Venables weighed down his head on the track with rubble and expected a train to run over him and make it look like an accident. The body was cut in half after they left by a train. Pathologists on the case confirmed that the victim was dead before he was struck by the train. (source)
2. The picture of the boy holding a “Free Hug” sign went viral for hugging a cop. This normal photo gained more interest when news came out about his abusive mother was using him for online clout and eventually murdered the whole family by driving off a cliff.
The Hart tribe, a free-spirited family of eight with two women, Jeniffer and Sarah Hart, and their six adopted children was the perfect example of a fun-loving, adventurous family. They raised their own food and homeschooled their children.
The family always went on spontaneous road trips and festivals. They were social-justice-promoting, inspiring parents with kids who had exposure to art, music, and nature.
In this picture, Devonte Hart, one of their children, drew national interest in 2014 when the picture of him drowned in tears hugging a police officer during a protest in Portland over a deadly shooting of a Black man in Missouri. He was holding a “Free Hugs” sign.
The family of eight was presumed dead in 2018 after their SUV plunged off a cliff in California. The incident happened three days after child welfare authorities established contact with the parents to investigate the possibility of neglect or abuse in the household as their neighbors were concerned.
The suspicions started when Devonte, then 15, showed up at their neighbors’ place asking for food. He asked them to leave him food by the bush for a whole week as his mothers were punishing him by withholding food. One of the girls also showed up at 1:30 a.m. in a blanket saying she was being abused. (source)
3. John Edwards Robinson in this photo is holding baby Tiffany, whose mother he murdered the day before. He gave the baby to his brother saying she was adopted. His brother and Tiffany didn’t find out for 15 years.
John Robinson appeared to be an ideal family man. He had four kids who grew up with good exposure in Kansas city. He was a grandfatherly figure to everyone. But some knew he was a good manipulator and conned vulnerable women.
He reached out to vulnerable women and lead them to their deaths. By June 2000, authorities uncovered several bodies of women in his storage locker kept in barrels. One of the murdered women had a baby who grew up to be a teenager with Robinson’s brother. (source)
4. This normal photo shows a group of people whose plane crashed in the Andes on their way to Chile. They had to resort to eating their fellow dead passengers to survive those 72 days they didn’t get help and were eventually saved. They are all smiling in what looks like a normal picture, but it becomes eerie when you realize there is a human spine next to them.
The Andes flight disaster happened on 13 October 1972. The co-pilot was inexperienced and descended thinking they reached Curico but struck a mountain. The strike led to the tearing off of the tail section and wings. There were 45 passengers and crew. Eight died immediately and several died afterward due to injuries and frigid temperatures.
The search for the crashed airplane was called off after eight days because it was hard to spot the fuselage in the snow. After 72 days of starvation, exposure to harsh temperatures, and an avalanche, 16 of them survived.
They were short of food and they rationed what they had for days but had to resort to eating the dead bodies of people who did not survive the crash since there were no animals or vegetation anywhere nearby.
They ate their own friend’s bodies which had protein and fats to survive as there was no other source of food. Everybody had their reservations, but soon they found out all they have is parts of the plane, ice, and rock otherwise and decided to eat the flesh from the corpses. (source)
5. John Lennon, in this normal photo, signs an autograph for his killer, just a few hours before the murder and asked him “is that all?” Mark Chapman, the killer, had a gun on him then but waited for later. This picture is truly unsettling once you know what happened next.
According to Chapman, he chickened out when he was getting the autograph from John Lennon. He hung around until Lennon and Yoko came back home. Chapman got his record signed and Lennon asked “Is that all?”
He replied “No,” but stayed back until Lennon was back home reading The Catcher in the Rye. When Lennon returned from the studio, Chapman shot him with the gun he was hiding and continued reading until the police came.
Mark Chapman had several problems that were not diagnosed. He grew up idolizing John Lennon but could not stand him anymore since his popular remark that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus.
He had the intention to kill Lennon since then and he has made trips to New York with this intention. Chapman had fired five shots from a .38 revolver. Four shots hit Lennon, killing him. (source)