Art to some, an eyesore to others, graffiti is an inherently mysterious form of expression. The creators are typically unidentified and the purpose unexplained, meanwhile the act of making graffiti itself often goes unseen and undetected despite frequently occurring in high traffic places. Sometimes, these images appearing on asphalt, bricks, concrete, and rock are more than just strange, but downright unsettling, as the following examples show:
Perhaps the most infamous unapprehended serial killer in American history, the Zodiac Killer terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area during the late 1960s, continuing to taunt the police and the press for many more years before seemingly fading into the shadows for good. At the site of the first known murder committed by the Zodiac Killer, the symbol used by the killer in his numerous letters over the years – crosshairs inside a scope – has been spray painted on a sign warning trespassers. While the graffiti is likely the work of a local troublemaker, some wonder if it’s a more sinister message sent by the never identified Zodiac Killer himself.
Starting in 1971, a house in the Spanish city of Bélmez de la Moraleda has been the sight of an alleged paranormal phenomenon wherein faces appear in the concrete flooring of the home. Though some accuse the occupying family with perpetrating a hoax for profit, many self-identified parapsychologists consider it the best physical evidence to date regarding the supposed existence of paranormal phenomenon. To this day, the Bélmez Faces continue to draw curious onlookers and attract the attention of paranormal investigators.
Chernobyl Shadow People
Online photo galleries showcasing graffiti found in abandoned buildings are in no short supply, and are sure to include some unnerving imagery. However, the graffiti found at the site of the Chernobyl disaster is a creepy cut above the rest. In particular, an array of shadow people can be found scattered throughout the dilapidated and irradiated complex. These minimalist silhouettes tend to pop out when explorers least expect them, charging up adrenaline and reminding visitors of the tragic consequences of atomic power in what can be truly considered the world’s ultimate ghost town.
Curse of Shim’on
Warnings on ancient tombs threatening potential grave robbers with supernatural retaliation are surprisingly rare, despite their prevalence in fiction. It’s therefore even more unsettling when one examines the curse on the tomb of a young man named Shim’on who lived in Israel roughly 2000 years ago. The warning appears seared into the stone above the burial space, seemingly blood-red in color, and informs the reader of an “unfortunate end” if they are to violate the burial chamber below.
The Toynbee Tiles are a series of messages embedded in pavement in cities across the United States and South America, first appearing in Philadelphia in the mid-1980s. The creator of the messages has never been identified. Though the text varies to some degree, each Toynbee Tile has roughly the same message. Apart from seemingly referencing author Arnold J. Toynbee and the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, the true meaning or purpose of the Toynbee Tiles remains a mystery.
Goulston Street Graffito
In the early morning hours of September 30 1888, the serial killer known as Jack the Ripper struck twice – murdering two women in less than one hour. When the bloodstained apron of the second victim was discovered lying against the outside of a tenement building several blocks from her body, a message in chalk was found written on the wall above. This message, known as the Goulston Street graffito, was quickly removed by orders of police authorities for fear of inciting anti-semitic violence, but was believed by many investigators to have potentially been written by the killer and therefore important evidence for solving the case.
Unauthorized or otherwise unexplained writings and drawings on roads, rock face, signs, and walls have been a frequent form of artistic expression throughout human history. Mostly benign acts of vandalism, some examples of graffiti transcend the baseline for the bizarre, achieving a special rank in the realm of the unknown.