person walking on snowy mountain peak with lighting piercing through the sky

Eight Seemingly Normal Pictures With Eerie Backstories

A picture is worth a thousand words, but not all pictures should be taken at face-value. In fact, many simple, even happy-looking, photos could have gutting and eerie backstories. These eight photos span through many decades, always with some kind of evil lurking just beyond. This may force you to take another look at other images. What macabre mysteries and stories lie outside the frame?

Innocent-Looking Photos With Eerie Backstories

#1 Rajiv Gandhi

The last picture of Rajiv Gandhi alive
Photo credits: The Deccan Chronicle

This was the last ever photo of Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Moments after this picture was taken, a suicide bomber — who wearing orange flowers on the lower left — hugged him and detonated the bomb. Her profile is shown in the top left. The photographer was also killed during the explosion. [1]


#2 ‘Terezka’s Scrawls’

'Terezka’s Scrawls'
Photo credits: Bored Panda

This photo already looks haunting even without knowing its eerie backstory. In 1948, photojournalist and founder of Magnum Photos David Seymour visited a home for emotionally disturbed children in Warsaw. That day, the center told the kids to draw “home” on the blackboard. The other children drew houses. Meanwhile, Terezka had grown up in a concentration camp. If you’re unable to decipher her scribbles, you could see the horrors of her “home” in her piercing gaze.


Read: 10 Examples of ‘Anti-Homeless’ Hostile Architecture That You Probably Never Noticed Before


#3 Class Photo of 1999

School shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold’s school photo
Photo credits: Bored Panda

Looks like any other school photo, right? At least, until you know the eerie backstories of the two boys in the top left corner. The ones pretending to point guns at the camera. That’s Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, and their friends. A few weeks after this photo, Harris, and Klebold would come to school with guns, killing 15 students and one teacher. Then they turned the guns on themselves. This event is known as the Columbine High School Shootings of 1999. [2]


#4 Young Osama 

Osama bin Laden (second from right) on a visit to Falun, Sweden, in 1971.
Photograph: Camera Press

Here’s a picture of a large and happy family on vacation in Sweden in 1971. But notice the person second from the left, the 14-year-old boy in a brown shirt. Years later, he becomes the infamous Osama bin Laden, the founder and leader of themilitant Islamist organization Al-Quada. The terrorist group is most well-known for its attack of the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001. [3]


Read: Thousands Of Swedes Are Inserting Microchips Under Their Skin


#5 An Unsettling Reaction

Perry Smith and Richard Hickock leaving the courtroom after jury announced the verdict in the Clutter case
Photo credits: Research Gate

This may look like an unexceptional photo of two smiling men. However, this has one of the most eerie backstories. These two men are Richard Hickok and Perry Smith, two murderers, as they receive the death penalty. They had murdered a family with two children, intending to rob them. But they found nothing of value except $50 in cash. The casual almost joyful smile on Smith’s face adds a frightening context to this photo.


#6 Fan and Murderer

John Lennon signs an autograph for his future killer
Photo credits: All That’s Interesting

John Lennon, known for founding the Beatles, writes an autograph for a fan, definitely not something out of the ordinary for him. But little did he know that this fan was Mark David Chapman, the man who would murder him a few hours later. That’s when Chapman shot Lennon five times and stayed with him until the police arrived. Chapman confessed to the officers about the murder. He was motivated by anger when Lennon said the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Chapman thought this was blasphemous, but he never tried to flee from his crime. [4]


#7 The Killer Clown

Pogo, The Clown in the 1970s
Photo credits: Chicago Tribune

Many people have a fear of clowns and this story won’t help with that. John Wayne Gacy worked as Pogo the Clown or Patches the Clown at children’s birthday parties. But he had an evil side hobby. In the 1970s, he was convicted as a serial killer and rapist. He had sexually assaulted and killed about 33 young men in about six years. Now known as “The Killer Clown,” Gacy received the death penalty in 1980. [5]


#8 Struck By Lightning

Michael McQuilken and his brother, Sean, climbed California's Moro Rock in 1975.
Photo credits: NBC

Did you know that hair standing up and tingling skin is a sign you’re about to be struck by lightning? Michael McQuilken, 18, and his brother, Sean, 12, did not in 1975 when they posed for a picture at California’s Moro Rock. It looks like they are laughing at their crazy hairstyles. Fortunately, both brothers survived from the attack

“At the time, we thought this was humorous,” said Michael. “…I raised my right hand into the air and the ring I had on began to buzz so loudly that everyone could hear it. I found myself on the ground with the others. Sean was collapsed and huddled on his knees. Smoke was pouring from his back.

Sadly, this photo has multiple sad and eerie backstories. Michael lost his brother to suicide in 1989. [6]

Keep Reading: Vandals Are Stuffing Meat Into Electric Vehicle Charging Stations


  1. “A blast from the past: Rajiv Gandhi assassination.” Deccan Chronicle. Bellie Thomas. May 21, 2016
  2. “30 Photos That Look Ordinary Until You Know The Backstory.Bored Panda. Neringa Utaraitė. 2019
  3. Osama bin Laden.Britannica. Adam Zeidan. April 28, 2021
  4. “How Mark David Chapman Went From Beatles Superfan To John Lennon’s Killer.All That’s Interesting. Marco Margaritoff. April 20, 2020
  5. “Timeline: Suburban Chicago serial killer John Wayne Gacy and the efforts to recover, name his 33 victims.” Chicago Tribune. Kori Rumore. December 17, 2018
  6. “Decades later, hair-raising photo still a reminder of lightning danger.” NBC. JoNel Aleccia. July 30, 2013
Sarah Biren
Freelance Writer
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender.