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10 People Incriminated by Their Own Selfies
Plenty of people love selfies. Sometimes, they’re taken to commemorate an important occasion. Other times, they’re meant to celebrate a moment. Often, they result from spontaneous impulses.
The selfies on this list were also taken for a variety of reasons, perhaps as a memento, to document a deed, to accompany public comments, to secure future bragging rights, for vanity’s sake, or for some other purpose peculiar to the photographers who took them.
While these selfies may strike us as odd, they had an unexpected result. These self-portraits incriminated the very people who created them.
10 Two California Women
Built during the first century AD, the Roman Colosseum is a cultural and historical artifact respected and admired worldwide—well, except in the case of two California women, it seems. They may have admired the ancient amphitheater, but they apparently did not respect it, not enough, at least, to refrain from carving their respective initials into its exterior during a sightseeing tour in March 2015.
The vandals were in their twenties when they committed the crime. Despite the presence of signs, in both English and Italian, warning visitors against vandalizing the site, the women were said to have been “shocked” to be taken into custody. The police had incontrovertible proof that the tourists had committed acts of “aggravated damage on a building of historical and artistic interest.” Not only were their initials carved into the wall of the Colosseum, but the vandals had also photographed themselves in front of their handiwork.
9 Cheyenne Rose Antoine
A Canadian man discovered the body of a young woman beside a road not far from Saskatoon’s landfill. Although her shoeless body was cold, she was still alive, although barely. A belt lay close by. The victim was transported to a hospital, but she died soon after her arrival. By making photographs of the 18-year-old woman’s tattoos, broken watch, and jacket available to the public, police learned her identity; her name was Brittany Jane Gargol.
The authorities’ investigation also linked the victim to Cheyenne Rose Antoine, 21. On the night of Gargol’s death, the two women had gone barhopping, Antoine told the investigators, but police proved that the suspect’s story wasn’t true. A surveillance camera at one of the bars the women supposedly visited showed no sign of their presence.
Investigators also discovered that, on the night of the murder, Antoine had told a friend she had argued with and subsequently murdered Gargol, whom she had first hit and then strangled. The clincher to the case was a selfie that Antoine had posted on Facebook. The photograph showed her wearing the murder weapon, Gargol’s belt, which had been found near the victim’s body.
On a previous occasion, Antoine had posted another message. Addressed to the murder victim, it read, “Where are you? Haven’t heard from you. Hope you made it home safe.” On March 25, 2015, as part of a plea deal, Antoine pleaded guilty to having murdered Gargol and received a seven-year prison sentence.
8 Adam Howe
His 2014 robbery of a building and a recreational vehicle located on the premises of the Hilltop Tabernacle Church in Chula Vista, California, netted 26-year-old Adam Howe $10,000. The selfie on his phone, which he left behind at the crime scene, earned him an arrest for burglary. Howe was charged with stealing cash and a laptop computer stolen from the building and purses and watches stolen from the RV.
The selfie’s background showed features that the investigating detective recognized. Visiting the site, he spoke to witnesses who, recognizing “the selfie suspect,” referred the detective to other places that Howe regularly visited. Howe was found in one of these locations, and a search of his personal property uncovered some of the items he’d stolen from the church and the RV.
Howe was sentenced to three years of probation with credit for time served.
7 Tommy Beverly
Indirectly, part of the loot stolen by Tommy Beverly, 27, led to his arrest. After the Shreveport, Louisiana, robbery suspect had stolen two cell phones and some cash in July 2018, it appears that he simply couldn’t resist the impulse to capture the moment by taking several selfies with at least one of the phones.
Their owner had set the stolen device to upload digital photographs shot with its camera to the cloud, which is exactly what happened, after Beverly took pictures of himself. Three days after the crime, police were notified of the cell phone’s location, and a tip allowed them to identify their suspect.
6 Travis Birkley
Donta H. Williams trafficked in K2, or “Spice,” a synthetic version of the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, sprayed with synthetic psychoactive chemicals, at the house to which Birkley had come to rob. Birkley was surprised by Michelle Williams, who was trying to protect her husband, and Birkley, who said he had a cousin with him, killed Donta and Michelle before murdering the other victims to eliminate witnesses to the crime.
Police determined that Birkley had acted alone in killing the victims, who were identified as Caleb Jordan, Javoni Liddell, Charles Hardy, Donald Smith, Michelle Williams, and Donta Williams.
On January 27, 2023, Birkley, 35, was charged with the six murders. However, the proceedings were suspended when he was found to be incompetent to stand trial. Prosecutors stated that they might apply to have Birkley held under protective custody or committed due to mental incapacitation.
In a strange twist to the continuing case, police found a selfie on Birkley’s phone. The photograph was taken in the basement where his victims’ bodies were found. In the picture, the killer wears Donta’s sunglasses, which connects him to the crimes.
5 Cecily Aguilar
According to reporter Divya Kishore, Army Specialist Aaron David Robinson, 20, committed suicide on July 1, 2020, after murdering Private First Class Vanessa Guillen, 20. The motive for the murder might have been related to the fact that Guillen had earlier confided in her family that she had been subjected to sexual harassment at Fort Hood, Texas. Cecily Aguilar, rumored by some to have been Robinson’s “estranged wife or girlfriend,” was arrested the same day.
In her confession, she told police that Robinson had killed Guillen with a hammer, stuffed her inside a box, and carried her off post. At the end of Aguilar’s workday, he had driven her to a spot along the Leon River, where, using a “hatchet or ax and a machete-type knife,” the duo had cut off Guillen’s arms, legs, and head. They had then attempted to burn her remains, before burying them in three places.
Apparently, it wasn’t enough for Aguilar to dismember and bury the victim’s body. The Belton, Texas, woman also had to post selfies with horrific captions on Instagram. The last of the series, posted on May 25, complete with an excess of hashtags, is probably the most horrendous: “People who fight fire with fire end up with the ashes of Their [sic] own integrity.”
4 Danielle Saxton
Apparently, Danielle Saxton, 27, felt that she just had to have the dress and the jewelry that she saw at Morties Boutique in West Frankfort, Illinois. She also seems to have been overcome by a desire to show off her new ensemble. After allegedly stealing the garment and the jewelry, she posted a selfie in which she was attired in her new acquisitions, modeling them on Facebook.
Her picture caught the eye of one of the social medium platform’s visitors, who mentioned the photograph to the boutique’s owner, Gay Morton, who, in turn, notified the police. Police charged Saxton with theft under $500 and with failure to appear in court concerning another unrelated charge.
3 Donald A. “Chip” Pugh
Donald A. “Chip” Pugh, 45, labeled by Lima, Ohio, police as a “person of interest” in the investigation of several crimes, took umbrage at the photographs of him that law enforcement posted on social media. In one picture, his likeness includes the stubble of facial hair; another seems to have been taken at a bad angle.
The third photograph, though, is one of which Pugh approves. He should. As the police explained in a comment about the selfie, “This photo was sent to us by Mr. Pugh himself.” Pugh added a caption to his selfie: “Here is a better photo.” The police added, “We thank him for being helpful, but now we would appreciate it if he would come speak to us at the LPD about his charges.”
Pugh was arrested in Century, Florida, following an anonymous tip. The police’s picture, a mugshot of the suspect, had made him “look like [he] was a Thundercats,” Pugh complained, explaining his motive for sending them the selfie.
Lima police thanked both Escambia County, Florida, police, the power of social media, and tipsters for Pugh’s arrest.
2 Ashley Keast
The BBC News headline sums up the story: “Bungling Rotherham burglar snared by selfie.” After breaking into a home in Rotherham, in Yorkshire, England, Ashley Keast, 25, took a self-incriminating selfie in celebration of his £27,000 theft of electrical items, jewelry, and an Audi A4.
He used a stolen SIM card, which he’d inserted into a different phone than the one from which he’d taken the card, and posted the photograph of himself on the WhatsApp messenger app. In the process, he unknowingly also sent the selfie to his victim’s colleagues, who notified the police.
He was arrested the next day at his own residence, where officers found a stolen Rolex watch worth £4,000 hidden behind a radiator. Keast also admitted that he was “in breach of a suspended sentence.”
1 Adam Hossein Nayeri
Adam Hossein Nayeri and his fellow inmates weren’t content with the home they shared, an Orange County, California, jail’s Module F, a maximum-security dormitory resembling a U.S. Army World War II barracks. They decided an escape was in order and somehow secured cellphones on which they recorded a video of their getaway. The footage is accompanied by a voiceover in which Nayeri provides a running, sometimes mocking, commentary. Channel 4, NBC Los Angeles, showed the video, advising viewers that the recording was edited only to eliminate the music in the original because of copyright concerns, and to blur “the faces of jail inmates who do not appear to be connected to the case.”
The escapees exited the dorm through a metal screen in the wall, which had already been cut and, until now, hidden behind a sawed-off bunk bed. Then, the prisoners crawled through plumbing shafts, removed metal bars, and ascended to the roof. The video does not record their descent to the ground, but Nayeri said the men “had industrial rope, a toolbox, a duffle bag, and new clothes.”
Once they were free, they continued their selfies as they took turns posing at the corner of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, showed off the van where they slept, and presumably prepared to party with the marijuana and Jack Daniels shown on the video. As Channel 4’s Vicki Vargas observed, though, the inmates’ video did not include “the moment hours later when they were arrested.”
It seems likely that prison authorities will use the self-incriminating selfie as evidence against the escapees and as a means to improve the jail’s security. All the Orange County District Attorney’s Office would say is that commenting on the video would be inappropriate because the case is in litigation.