There’s few classic ghost photos that just never get the attention that they deserved, and the mysterious Bruno Hauptmann Electric Chair photo is one of them. The spooky image, which was snapped in 1983, is at the center of a mystery that involves a vacationing family, a man convicted of murdering the Lindberg Baby, and one of the original investigators of the famous Enfield Poltergeist haunting most recently featured in The Conjuring 2.
Watford, UK resident Karen Collette was taking her family on a day trip to London in the fall of 1983. They’d climbed aboard the Bakerloo Line train when her nephew asked if she would snap a picture of him. She did, and because this was occurring in the Dark Ages before the digital camera, the photo went unseen for weeks until she had the roll of film developed.
But something wasn’t right. One of the photos in the roll, specifically the one she had taken of her nephew, had something very alarming depicted in the background. Perfectly in focus was what looked an awful lot like a man being executed by an electric chair, complete with lighting bolts shooting from his hands.
Collette insisted that the picture had been snapped when the group were deep underground, moving far too fast to get a clear shot of anything that might have been rushing by outside the train. She was so alarmed by the picture she’d taken that she sent the image to seasoned paranormal investigator Maurice Grosse, who became one of the world’s most famous ghost hunters after investigating the case of the Enfield Poltergeist.
Grosse was intrigued by the ghostly image, and set to work having a number of tests run not only on the photo, but on the negative as well, and what he discovered shocked even him. Pun intended.
As it turns out, Collette’s camera had been a poor quality one, so crappy, in fact, that it would have been impossible to superimpose anything onto the negatives at all. The man in the electric chair was real, but who was he, and why was he in a tourist’s photo?
After spending a few weeks investigating the image, things took an even stranger turn when Grosse came to the conclusion that the man in the photo was none other than Bruno Hauptmann. For those of you unfamiliar with Hauptmann, he was convicted and executed in 1936 for his part in the abduction and eventual murder of the Lindberg baby. Up until the day he died, Hauptmann denied having played any part in the Lindberg murder, and in recent years, there’s even been new evidence discovered that might indicate that he’d been wrongly executed.
Grosse was convinced the bizarre image was of Hauptmann, but wasn’t entirely convinced that there was anything paranormal occurring in the photo. At that time, Madam Tussauds’ Chamber of Horrors had a wax work of Hauptmann’s execution on display, which lead Grosse to consider that Collette simply captured a billboard promoting the new figure. But when Tussauds was questioned about any promotional material, they didn’t just deny having any billboards near the train, they denied ever having any made any promotional material for the sculpture at all.
Grosse maintained an open mind about the photograph, but no real conclusion was ever reached.
A few years after the investigation had wrapped, a psychic approached Collette and told her that she was being followed by the spirit of a man who who had been punished for a crime that he had not committed. Grosse might have been on the fence, but Collette believed that she had photographed the ghost of Bruno Hauptmann, who had returned from the grave to send a message.