Today’s short but shocking tale comes from the notorious “ANOMALY” photo series, first posted to Reddit’s /x/ paranormal image board and later attributed to the user “Rembetis.” This author claims to have worked for a small independent book publisher, and while researching the gallery catalogs for various museums and private curators, discovered a series of disturbing and unexplained photographs — all with equally unsettling backstories — each curated by a single collector, who was interested in selling them to the publisher.
That collector reportedly backed out of his contract at the last minute for reasons unknown… but Rembetis managed to retain scans of the images and shared them, along with transcripts of their respective stories, with the Reddit community.
I’ve previously covered the history of several images from this collection — including the horrifying tales of “Charlie Noonan’s Last Photograph,” “The Axeman of New Orleans,” “The Ghost of Sarah Eustace” and “Lily Palmer’s Eyes.”
Today we’ll examine an ANOMALY image with a particularly violent and horrific backstory: the infamous photo of the doomed Sorrenson children.
According to the original photo curator’s notes, the Sorrenson family were Danish immigrants who came to the US in the early 20th century and purchased a small plot of land in rural Missouri, on which they maintained a modest farm. Their son Anders — pictured in the photo at top, riding the donkey — was their only child when they started the farm, but by 1916, when this photo was allegedly taken, the family grew to include Simone (pictured at center), Frikke (on the far right) and their youngest, Mathilde (seated in the wagon).
According to the collector’s notes, this is the only known image depicting all four of the Sorrenson children — three of whom would die horribly within a few weeks of the photograph being taken.
The three oldest children were believed to have been concealed beneath piles of hay in the family barn when their father Niclas entered, driving his tractor. Mounted on the machine was a hay sweep, or hay rake (shown above), an implement which scoops multiple piles of hay onto large straight forks or curved tines. These forks penetrated the hay piles in which the children were playing — killing all three before their father even realized what had happened.
The accident itself is horrifying enough… but it’s the way the details compare to the attached photo that makes this story particularly nightmarish.
As you can see, there are several streaks crossing the photograph; most of them appear to be part of a wire fence, while others might be flaws in the image due to scratches on the emulsion, or creases where the backing paper might have been folded… but each of those faint lines also happens to match the exact locations where the sweep slashed into the children’s bodies.
Anders was decapitated and his body severed across his abdomen; Simone was similarly beheaded, and bisected through the torso; Frikke’s head was sliced into three sections and her body split diagonally from right shoulder to left hip. The trajectory of the sweep’s forks is almost exactly duplicated in the image flaws, highlighted in red here.
Only the youngest, Mathilde, was spared, as she was in the house with her mother at the time… and as you can see, there is no flaw bisecting her image in the photo.
In another bizarre twist, according to the Sorrenson’s neighbors (the son of whom the collector once interviewed), the donkey shown in the photo — which also has a pale slash across its upper head — died around the same time after becoming entangled in a barbed-wire fence, nearly decapitating itself in a panicked attempt to get loose.
No further information has been provided on the Sorrenson family, on what happened in the wake of the tragedy, or if Mathilde met with a similar fate in the years to follow.