23 Chilling Photos Taken By History’s Most Depraved Serial Killers — Before And After They Killed Their Victims

Published August 7, 2022
Updated August 16, 2022

Taken by the likes of Rodney Alcala, Harvey Glatman, and the BTK Killer, these macabre photos show how some serial killers used photography to lure their victims and relive their horrifying crimes.

Unknown Woman Rodney Alcala
Undentified Woman Rodney Alcala
Christine Thornton Rodney Alcala
Regina Kay Walters
23 Chilling Photos Taken By History’s Most Depraved Serial Killers — Before And After They Killed Their Victims
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For some serial killers, taking a life isn't enough. They also take photos of their victims — trophies and mementos that they can use to relive their murders.

And some killers even used photography as a way to lure their victims in to begin with. For example, Rodney Alcala and Harvey Glatman offered to photograph their victims before murdering them. Others, like Robert Ben Rhoades or Jeffrey Dahmer, simply seemed to enjoy using photography to document their vile crimes.

Above, look through 23 harrowing photos taken by serial killers.

Serial Killers Who Posed As Photographers

For serial killers like Harvey Glatman, Rodney Alcala, and William Bradford, photography was a convenient tool to find victims and lure them closer. All three men promised to take photos of their victims, who were mainly aspiring models, before taking them to an isolated area and killing them.

Perhaps none were as prolific as Alcala, who operated for 11 years, mostly in California and New York. The killer, who often used the name "John Berger," photographed many of his victims before killing them.

For example, according to Marie Claire, he lured in his victim Ellen Jane Hover by presenting himself as a UCLA-educated photographer who had studied under Roman Polanski. That was true, but Alcala hid his real intentions.

Investigators later found the name "John Berger" on Hover's calendar and surmised that she agreed to have her photo taken. Instead, Berger, a.k.a. Alcala, had killed her.

Hover wouldn't have been the only one. In 1979, investigators found hundreds of photos taken by Alcala in a Seattle storage unit. In 2010, they released some of them in hopes of learning the women's identities and possibly locating more victims.

Photo Taken By Serial Killer Rodney Alcala

Huntington Beach Police DepartmentOne of the photos that police found in Rodney Alcala's storage unit. Investigators have asked the public to come forward if they know anything about the identities of these women.

Several women came forward. According to The New York Daily News, Judy Cole contacted police to let them know that she believed she was the woman in photograph #169.

She told the New York Police Department that she believes she met Alcala in 1978 while living on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Cole, then 19, agreed to pose for photographs for Alcala on the roof of a building. For reasons known only to him, he let her leave the impromptu photo shoot with her life.

"He was very charming. I should have known better," Cole told the NYPD, according to The New York Daily News.

But whereas serial killers like Alcala used photography as a means to an end, other killers used photos to remember and revisit their gruesome crimes.

Serial Killers Who Took Photos Of Their Victims For Pleasure

Some killers, like Robert Ben Rhoades or Dennis Rader, didn't need to use photography to lure their victims in. They had other methods. But they used the camera to perpetuate the excitement they felt while killing their victims.

Rhoades, for example, found his victims through his work as a long-haul trucker. He killed perhaps dozens of people over fifteen years, including a 14-year-old hitchhiker named Regina Kay Walters.

In February 1990, Walters had the horrible luck of meeting Rhoades while hitchhiking with her boyfriend, Ricky Jones, in Houston, Texas. But whereas Rhoades quickly killed Jones, he kept Walters for months and tortured her in a chamber he'd built in the back of his truck.

Shortly before he killed her, Rhoades also took several chilling photos of the teenager in an Illinois barn, where he'd forced her to wear a black dress and heels. Police later found a number of the pictures he'd taken of her.

Dennis Rader's House

Larry W. Smith/Getty ImagesSerial killer Dennis Rader's house in Park City, Kansas, where investigators found hundreds of "bondage selfies" that he'd taken while wearing his victims' clothing.

Dennis Rader, known as the BTK killer for his method of binding, torturing, and killing his victims, also used photography. But while he only occasionally photographed his victims, he most often photographed himself.

Rader would dress up in his victims' clothing, then tie himself up to imitate how he'd killed them. Then, he would take a photo of himself to relive his murders.

Indeed, photos taken by serial killers capture a chilling, gruesome moment in time. Pictures like Alcala's freeze a final moment of innocence. And images like Rhoades' freeze a last moment of horror.

Above, look through 23 photos taken by serial killers like Alcala, Rhoades, Rader, Jeffrey Dahmer, and more.

After looking through these photographs taken by serial killers, look through these harrowing crime scene photos. Or, discover the stories of history's worstfemale serial killers.

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A New York-based publisher established in 2010, All That's Interesting brings together subject-level experts in history, true crime, and science to share stories that illuminate our world.