20 Creepy Photos That Will Give You the Chills

The tragic stories behind these creepy photos are enough to give you nightmares.

1 / 20
Quiet country home
Photo: AP/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.

2 / 20
Murder victim model
Photo: CEK/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.”

Would you believe these famous horror movies were inspired by real events?

3 / 20
Creepy clown
Photo: MGM/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.

4 / 20
Ghostly figures
Photo: Karl 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 stampede in 2010 at Loveparade, a German dance music festival. Five hundred others were injured in the devastating tragedy.

5 / 20
Highgate cemetery
Photo: Jane 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.

Explore the secrets of Toronto’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

6 / 20
Highgate angel
Photo: Rob 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.

You’ll want to sleep with the light on after reading these spooky ouija board stories.

7 / 20
Church struck by lightning
Photo: Deadline News/Shutterstock

Church spire struck by lightning

An ordinary church spire, and an ordinary act of nature. Yet the image of the damage a bolt of lightning caused to a stone church spire in Denny, Scotland, looks extraordinarily eerie.

Don’t miss these fascinating facts about lightning strikes.

8 / 20
San Francisco earthquake aftermath
Photo: Underwood 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.

You never know when these natural disaster survival tips will come in handy.

9 / 20
Burnt soccer ball
Photo: Thanassis Stavrakis/AP/Shutterstock

The remains of a fire

As a result of a wildfire in Mati, Greece in 2018, more than 80 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.

Here’s what it’s like to survive a fire tornado.

10 / 20
Crime scene
Photo: Matty 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.

Would you believe these real life crimes were solved by psychics?

11 / 20
Photo: AP/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.

Don’t miss this roundup of the strangest unsolved mysteries of all time.

12 / 20
Karla Faye Tucker
Photo: Clive 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.

Check out these mysteries that were finally solved by forensics.

13 / 20
Spanish torture device
Photo: Miguel 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 the best history podcasts to listen to right now.

14 / 20
Smoke on the water
Photo: Mark 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.

Discover more chilling ghost ship mysteries.

15 / 20
Remains of a pirate shipwreck
Photo: Steven 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.

16 / 20
Romanov Family
Photo: Sovfoto/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.

Check out these urban legends that turned out to be true.

17 / 20
Autopsy room
Photo: Simon Belcher/imageBROKER/Shutterstock

Autopsy table

On this table, an autopsy has just been performed, and another one will soon begin. It’s hard to imagine a colder, more clinical view of the end of life.

Next, check out these creepy real events that actually happened on Halloween.

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Deadly flu epidemic of 1918
Photo: 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 an estimately 50,000 Canadians. Pictured here is a Red Cross truck moving the sick in October 1918.

Find out how the COVID-19 pandemic is different from all other pandemics in history.

19 / 20
Creepy photos - blood moon
Photo: Shutterstock

Blood moon

Who needs UFO sightings to find the night sky spooky? Snapped during the lunar eclipse of April 15, 2014, this creepy photo shows the moon tinged a deep red—a phenomenon known as a “blood moon.”

Check out these moon mysteries that continue to baffle researchers.

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Creepy photos - Baltray shipwreck
Photo: Shutterstock

Baltray shipwreck

It’s hard to believe a photo taken in broad daylight could be so creepy, but the Baltray shipwreck manages to send a shiver down the spine. The Irish Trader ran aground off the coast of Ireland in a massive storm back in 1974, and its skeletal remains serve as a warning to ships to this day.

If these creepy photos weren’t enough to give you goosebumps, be sure to read the haunting tales of Canada’s most famous shipwrecks.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest