People take prison mugshots all the time, and most aren’t very interesting. Many suspects just look at the camera with a serious demeanor because it’s not exactly a fun photo session they got themselves into. But some mugshots have that extra something that make them known beyond the files of the police department that took them. For one reason or another, mugshots like the following went viral and, in some cases, made the arrested more famous than they ever imagined.
Note: Mugshots are typically taken when someone is arrested, before a trial is held. Please remember everyone is innocent until proven guilty.
Mekhi Alante Lucky
In April 2016, Mekhi Alante Lucky found himself arrested for motor vehicle larceny and eluding arrest. But then, he lived up to his last name, as his mugshot became a sensation due to his ridiculously unique eyes. Due to a disorder called heterochromia, his eyes are two different colors — one a piercing blue, the other a soulful brown. Add that to his almost-seductive staring into the police camera, and this face was practically begging to be discovered.
And discovered it was. After Lucky’s mugshot started making the rounds, it caught the attention of Demanti O’Bryant, the founder of the St. Claire Modeling agency. As he told Inside Edition, "His look is extraordinary. I immediately found him interesting. I just didn’t know who he was. … Eventually I found him on Instagram and reached out." Lucky was down to model and wound up signing with St. Claire in August 2017. He was quickly booked to walk during New York City’s famous Fashion Week the very next month. And with shoots like the ones O’Bryant put up on his Instagram, it’s not at all surprising. Regardless of your opinions of vehicular larceny (hopefully you’re against it), there’s no denying Lucky’s eyes were meant for great things.
When people think of hot criminals, Jeremy Meeks likely comes to mind first. He’s the sad-eyed guy with the pouty lips and chiseled jaw who won over countless people after his 2014 arrest for getting caught with a firearm, despite being a convicted felon. Also, he was charged with being in a gang. But after police posted his mugshot to Facebook, the internet completely exploded with nothing but love for the documented Crips member. Some sample comments include, "If this guy broke into my house, I’d make him forget why he broke in within 30 seconds. Lolololol," and "Lord have mercy omg he is fine he can kidnap me anyday lol damnnnnnnnnn."
The lovelorn would have to wait, however, as come February 2015 Meeks found himself sentenced to 27 months in prison (he wound up serving just 13 months). But according to People, while in prison he signed the modeling contract countless lust-filled internet types assumed he would. Upon his March 2016 release, he began pursuing modeling as a legitimate career, making his runway debut the following February during New York’s Fashion Week. He now travels the globe for his new career, which should be a lesson to all. If you ever get arrested (please don’t), you should not count on a modeling career.
Morgan Joyce Varn
Seeing suspects with tattoos galore is fairly commonplace. But rarely does one tattoo their eyes. Not just a teardrop below their eye, mind you, but literal tattoo ink into the eyeballs. But that appears to be exactly what Morgan Joyce Varn has done to herself, causing her mugshot to take on a life of its own.
In April 2017, Varn was arrested in South Carolina and charged with kidnapping, armed robbery, and property damage. But what really got national attention (and international, with even the BBC reporting on it) was her eyes. Among her many tattoos in more normal places, like her skin, were the whites of her eyes looking pitch black, like she only turned to crime because the Venom symbiote got hold of her. That obviously got many people’s attention, with websites and Facebook pages posting headlines like, "Here’s a Mugshot to Haunt Your Nightmares" and "The Devil Went Down To South Carolina." No word yet on if she can fiddle.
Some people have questioned whether or not Varn actually tattooed her eye whites totally black, because that’s totally whacked, even though, as BBC pointed out, it’s a real trend. Possible alternate explanations include contact lenses (which makes sense) or that the picture is faked (which also makes sense). Who knows?
Justin Lamar Richardson
When you’re arrested, about the last thing that comes to mind is how hungry you are — you’re usually focused on how you’ve been arrested and that’s bad. But then there’s Justin lamar Richardson, who gained a bit of internet fame for not letting a little thing like jail interfere with his lunch.
As first reported by Fox-46, In September 2017, Richardson was arrested in North Carolina, for violating his probation many times over. So back to the clink he went, but when it came time to take a new picture for his latest booking, Richardson told the officers he was hungry. Instead of saying, "tough luck, buck" like some officers might, these ones actually gave him food. It wasn’t great food — they gave him a basic bologna sandwich — but he still got to munch. What’s more, he ate as they snapped the picture, which gave news sites everywhere perfect material for a slow news day.
According to Fox, the arresting police department eventually realized the sandwich pic wasn’t exactly the most professional look, so they made Richardson take a more serious shot to remind others that they’re an actual police force, not the Keystone Cops.
Pretty people taking pretty mugshot happens quite a bit lately, but Meagan McCullough might well have started the whole trend — not that she planned to.
In July 2010, McCullough was busted for DUI, and was beyond ashamed of herself for it. According to what she told the Huffington Post and Ten Minute Interviews, she was crying throughout the booking process but managed to compose herself just enough for the mugshot. The freshly-teared look is apparently internet bait, because in 2013 her mugshot exploded. People everywhere fell in love with her, calling her the "Attractive Convict," and Reddit memeing her picture with captions like "Wanted in all 50 states," "Guilty … of taking my breath away," and "She’s the 10 on the FBI’s Most Wanted List" (as dutifully recapped by Buzzfeed).
In interviews after she went viral, McCullough seemed mostly cool with the fame, though she did worry about her kids seeing both the mugshot and some of the comments attached to it. Also, she insisted it was far from her best pic, not that anyone online agrees. She even implied she would pose for Playboy if Hugh Hefner ever called her. But she does have her limits, as in 2014 (according to NBC) she sued a website called InstantCheckMate.com for using the pic to help sell products. Making money off her pained beauty wasn’t her idea of acceptable, though there appears to be no word on whether she won. One thing we know for sure: Hugh Hefner’s not calling anytime soon.
Fidel Gonzalez Gutierrez
Just in time for the holidays, here’s a guy who got arrested but went viral for looking like Santa Claus, which must’ve been bad for poor Mrs. Claus’s heart.
In March 2017, Florida resident Fidel Gonzalez Gutierrez found himself arrested due to having six outstanding warrants, all related to dealing cocaine. (We’d love to make a joke about Santa selling the wrong kind of "snow," but the entire internet beat us to it.) In his booking photo, he had long white hair and a bushy white beard, just like St. Nick. He was even wearing a red shirt, leaving him just a couple elves short of a sweatshop. It’s not terribly surprising his mugshot went viral; "Santa doing a bad, bad thing" is low-hanging fruit, though presumably Billy Bob Thornton is mad this guy stole his character.
According to ABC-10, the website for Gonzalez’s jail says he’s a fisherman, despite the Mall Santa thing being literally right there. Then again, if he’s this preoccupied with cocaine, he may not be too concerned with Christmas. Either way, keep this story away from the kids. They’ve already got enough questions about that whole "reindeer flying" thing.
If not for one peculiar feature, Micah Musser’s June 2017 arrest likely wouldn’t attract much attention at all. The 18-year-old Kentuckian was arrested for trespassing and "unlawful transaction with a minor," which in not-cop-speak means he was drinking with someone underage. That’s not good, but the internet wouldn’t pay much attention if it was just that. They would, however, pay attention to someone whose mugshot shows a neck positively littered with hickeys, which is exactly what Musser had. So for almost certainly getting a little something-something before getting the cuffs (not to mention looking like a giraffe-human hybrid), the internet rewarded him with viral fame.
Shortly thereafter, Musser responded to his newfound popularity in an interview with WDRB in Louisville. He claimed he was trespassing because he and his friends were "temporarily homeless" and needed a place to stay. And he did admit what covered his neck were indeed hickeys, but he didn’t want to be known as the Hickey Guy. As he said, "[The arrest] changed my outlook on things. Like, I don’t want to go back to jail. I don’t feel like that’s my place to be. I like being free." That’s a good plan, as would be buying a few turtleneck sweaters.
If there was such a thing as a "Truth in Advertising" award, Luciano Gutierrez would be a shoo-in. He went viral in 2015 for wearing a shirt during his mugshot that says more than his face ever could.
The Texas man was arrested for DUI, something he’s quite experienced with. According to WKYT, this was his ninth arrest for drunk driving, meaning he could now be charged with a felony under Texas law. So it was almost apropos that he was arrested and booked wearing a T-shirt that said "Warning: I do dumb things." No argument there, Mr. Gutierrez.
News outlets all over, from USA Today to Washington Post to the world-renowned 973TheDawg, picked up the story, prompting people from one end of the internet to the other to see Gutierrez’s shirt and proclaim, in unison, "no s**t, Sherlock." Gutierrez doesn’t appear to have responded to his 15 minutes of fame, presumably because he’s too busy dumbing it up somewhere to notice.
Another entry into the Mugshot Hall of Fame is Sarah Seawright, whom the internet dubbed "Prison Bae" after her attractive booking pic went viral in 2016.
According to the Huffington Post, in late April of that year, Seawright was arrested for no-showing a court appearance that was related to a previous arrest. A week later, a Tumblr blog called Ugly Plastic, which is devoted entirely to cute mugshots of good-looking women, posted her mugshot, and the internet responded with heart emojis galore. Twitter comments include, "She can kidnap me any day" and "put her on house arrest with me," either ignoring or not caring about how she had a prior rap sheet for adorable activities like robbery, kidnapping, battery, and tampering with evidence.
Seawright, meanwhile, seems shocked by the sudden viral fame, posting on her Facebook, "This s**t CRAZZZZYY." She seemed quite fine with it, though, posting an email address to her Instagram (since removed) for anyone who wanted to book her for appearances, and just putting it out there that she’d love to be on Wendy Williams. Her Instagram is both private and sans e-mail, and many of her posts about fame and going on TV have been deleted. She seems content to be "Anonymous Bae" for the time being.
As successful as Jeremy Meeks was going from felon to model, he may have competition now. Sean Kory, according to the internet, is the new Mugshot Hotness.
In 2014, Kory was arrested for assault, after attacking someone going as a Fox News reporter for Halloween. His reasoning was, as he apparently yelled rather loudly, "I hate Fox News," and not because going as a TV reporter might be the most boring costume idea of all time. His mugshot, according to CNN, spotlights the dreadlocked Kory’s "cheekbones … piercing eyes, [and a] hint of danger" that makes the internet go gaga. Sure enough, people fell in love with Kory just as they did Meeks, with comments like "#SeanKory, When you get out of jail … I’ll be waiting boo" and "Yep. Sean Kory is the felon bae sequel. Quantum of Bae."
Meeks need not worry too much, however, as several years after Quantum of Bae went viral, he doesn’t appear to have resurfaced as a model, actor, or anything else. He appears to genuinely be a guy who took his hatred of a TV channel too far, realized his error, and slinked away to a private life. Baefall.
Even the "beautiful" mugshots that go viral don’t normally feature the suspect smiling. They are, after all, going to jail. Sarah Furay apparently felt differently, grinning ear-to-ear for her mugshot after her November 2015 arrest for possessing, as detailed by the police who nabbed her, "31.5 grams of packaged cocaine, 126 grams of high-grade marijuana, 29 ‘ecstasy’ tablets, methamphetamine, and 60 doses of a drug similar to LSD." Her happiness quickly went viral, as sites like Complex dubbed her the "world’s cutest drug kingpin," albeit one who was facing a maximum of 215 years in prison. Nobody smiles after a sentence that long.
As it turns out, Furay hasn’t spent more than a day in jail so far. According to Death and Taxes, she posted bond the very next day and was released. Plus, Furay’s father is actually an agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). That connection made some conclude she was smiling because she knew her powerful father would pull strings and free her. Snopes explained that does not appear to be the case, but also mentioned that a trial still had not been set for her by May 2017. Whatever’s going on, it sounds like Furay still has reasons to smile.
It takes a certain kind of confidence to basically tell the cops to go screw themselves while they’re taking your mugshot, but Angela Green has more than enough of it.
In July 2014, according to the IB Times, Green was staying at a Quality Inn in Wickliffe, Ohio, and refused to leave at her scheduled checkout time. Cops were summoned, who told her she would need to leave or pay for another night. She refused to do either, so they arrested her. Come mugshot time, Green must’ve been feeling extra cheeky, as she gave the camera a duckface. Not just any duckface either — hers is one of the most exaggerated, over-the-top duckfaces this side of Daffy in full woo-hoo mode.
Once the Wickliffe Police Department uploaded her pic to their Facebook (presumably after they stopped laughing uncontrollably), her pic began to spread and various sites covered her epic portrait. No modeling contract came out of this one, or even discipline — she was reportedly released on $354 bond and that appears to have been the end of it. We’re guessing the cops reacted to her chutzpah like Will Ferrell to his cheese-wheel-eating dog in Anchorman: they weren’t even mad, just amazed.
Lucas William Vincent
At this point, cops have to know if they put a weird mugshot online, they’re all but inviting the internet to viralize it. How else to explain Lucas William Vincent, whose mugshot invited more ear jokes than a roast of Van Gogh?
In May 2017, as explained by the Wichita Eagle, New Zealand’s Vincent was set to show up to court on an assault charge, but he didn’t. So, the local police shared his mugshot, which shows his left ear looking significantly un-whole, like someone took scissors to it. The internet, as you might expect, went crazy, sharing the mugshot over 18,000 times. They didn’t do it because Vincent was wanted and dangerous, but because his ear was so striking. Comments included: "He’s going to cop an ear full when his mother finds out about this," "This is what happens when you live life earresponsibly," and "Does he have any distinguishing features we should watch for?"
Hopefully New Zealand police learned a valuable lesson: never ask the internet to take anything seriously. If you ask them to watch out for a guy who looks like Vincent, they’re just going to crack, "I’ll keep an ear out," and revel in the Facebook Likes.
Many mugshots are cute. Rare is the suspect who comes right out and says it though. Alysa Bathrick is just that suspect, however.
According to ABC-7, Bathrick was arrested in November 2014 on charges that she wanted to distribute Xanax. Her mugshot might not have gone anywhere, except that Bathrick herself took to Twitter to talk about it. She posted her booking sheet, along with her pic, with the following commentary: "Surrendered myself at 7 am, got released at 11:30 am. F**k what you heard. And my mugshot’s cute." based on her many retweets and favorites, people definitely agreed. People commented with lines like, "you got arrested for stealing my heart [heart-eyes emoji] cutest mugshot ever," "cute mugshot and nice brows!" and "Not gonna lie @_ahleesah is a hottie. never judge a book by its cover. We all have our stories."
Just a few months later, Bathrick was arrested again, this time for shoplifting, according to People. She didn’t flaunt her cute mugshot the second time around, and looking at it, you can see why. She still looks roughly the same, but with just enough resignation in her eyes to suggest she’s over being the "Cute Mugshot Girl" and would much rather be the "Cute Literally-Anything-Else Girl."
Mirella Ponce is the latest proof of how easily people forget criminal behavior if you’re pretty enough. Ponce, a heavily tattooed gang member, was arrested in October 2017 for — according to KRON-4 — driving with and concealing a stolen (and loaded) gun. Oh, and her baby was in the car with her, which is not what most people mean when they talk about mother-child bonding time.
But when the police station that took her mugshot posted it to Facebook, the internet chose to focus on one thing: her looks. Her pic garnered hundreds of shares, almost 2,000 likes, and comments like "The only crime she committed was stealing my heart," "How much Is her bail lol asking for a friend," "Can we just take a min and admire her brows tho #onfleek," and "If she held me at gun point I wouldn’t mind ." Of course, whoever wrote that probably really would mind, what with the gun being fully loaded.
Still, all this attention did not escape Ponce’s attention. According to the Fresno Bee, after pleading guilty, she was released and will receive probation. But more importantly to the story, she now wants to be a model. She’s taken some pics for a local semi-professional photographer, and reportedly has a couple paid modeling gigs lined up. One is with a tattoo studio, and why not? She’s already half-made of ink anyway.
Charles Dion McDowell
Whatever you think about him, no one could ever accuse Charles Dion McDowell of skipping neck day. Look at that. That man’s neck could choke a T. Rex. That neck is the size of some people’s torsos. McDowell was arrested in Florida in November 2018 for possession of cocaine and meth with the intent to sell/manufacture/deliver. Add to that the fact that he fled police when they try to apprehend him and you’ve got a recipe for … low-key, flash-in-the-pan virality? Sure!
After McDowell was released he posted a video online responding to his newfound "fame" or whatever you call it, thanking "every female that gave [him] a chance." So there’s that. WIthin a few weeks he also met fellow internet star Daddy Long Neck, a guy from Michigan with a pretty long and thin neck. In the resulting video they hung out and explained that "all necks matter." So there’s also that! Awesome stuff.
It’s unclear at this point whether police departments share mugshots on social media to act as a deterrent to potential criminals or just because going #viral is the only way to prove you’re hittings your #squadgoals.
Tammy Lee Hinton
"Every picture tells a story," the old saying goes, and "every picture is worth 1,000 words" states another. It’s easy to ascertain that the remarkable photo captured of Tammy Lee Hinton after she was taken into police custody certainly has a story to tell, probably one that’s valued at way more than a couple pages of text and would be fascinating to countless strangers on the internet.
Hinton enjoyed a July wedding in the summer of 2011, taking her vows at the City of Zion Ministries church in Jackson, Michigan. Right after the officiant declared Hinton and her guy to be husband and wife, according to The Smoking Gun, police arrested and booked the bride. At the time, she lived in Port Richey, Florida, but had decided to get married in Michigan, where she’d fled from a 2009 felony arrest warrant over three charges of identity theft. The day at least had a "happily ever after" ending: Hinton immediately posted bond and was released.
Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop
Most viral mugshots pique the interest of millions because the photo itself is so evocative. One detail or another sticks out, which many find ridiculous, ironic, or darkly humorous. Then there’s the case of a man with a long rap sheet arrested in Madison, Wisconsin, in January 2012. According to The Cap Times, police responded to a call about a man allegedly drinking and taking drugs in a park, arrested the guy, and charged him with possession of marijuana and drug equipment, carrying a concealed weapon, and, as a result of those things, violating the terms of his probation.
All things considered, those are run-of-the-mill crimes. The name of the man arrested for them is not: Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop, and he was a topic of conversation on CNN, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and local TV news shows from around the United States. He likely wouldn’t have received so much attention if he hadn’t changed his name a couple of months before the arrest, from the far less interesting Jeffrey Wilschke.
A mugshot is supposed to be a formality and a bit of minor record-keeping. Arrested individuals pose for a photo that’s attached to their record to make for an easy visual reference. And there’s an emphasis on the "individual" — it’s supposed to feature just one living being. Perhaps that’s why a man from Washington County in Oregon became a brief viral sensation in late 2016: His mugshot featured a special guest.
As detailed by The Oregonian, Craig Buckner reported to a hearing at the county courthouse and brought along his four-year-old macaw, the not-so-creatively named Bird, and left it outside in a tree with an order to wait. However, a judge unexpectedly called for Buckner to be taken into custody because of a failure to comply with the terms of his release on earlier charges. Buckner was worried about his bird, and a court employee sympathetic to his predicament helped him, leading Buckner to Bird, who popped into his shoulder. Man and macaw went back inside and had their photo snapped. (A friend of Buckner’s agreed to watch Bird while his human served his sentence.)
Some people refuse to take life or themselves all that seriously, even when the machinations of that life involve a jail sentence for troubling crimes that put strangers’ lives in jeopardy. Robert Burt is that kind of guy, and he used a booking to stage a joke. It’s almost like he engineered the mugshot to go viral, which it totally did.
According to The Smoking Gun, in June 2014, 19-year-old Robert Burt of Pittsfield, Maine, was arrested for driving under the influence as well as driving without a license. He later entered a guilty plea on the drunk driving charge and received a lenient sentence of two days in custody, scheduled for a period that coming August. Burt reported to jail on time, dressed in a prisoner-orange T-shirt, whereafter he posted for his mugshot. Printed on the front of the garment was Burt’s mugshot from his June arrest, captioned with the text, "Burt Family Reunion 8/8 – 8/10/2014" and "sponsored by Bud Light and Somerset County Sheriff." (The reunion refers to how Burt had a relative staying in the same facility during his stint.) Burt claimed on Facebook that the booking officers had him hold his slate in such a way that his amusing shirt would be most visible.
For all of our accomplishments and magnanimous qualities, human beings can still be a petty and nasty bunch. Years of anti-bullying rhetoric hasn’t done much to slow down people’s tendencies to be mean on the internet, particularly how it pertains to somebody else’s unconventional appearance. What we’re saying here is that a mugshot can and will go viral if the subject has a distinctive look or a dominant physical trait, and that’s what happened to Ricky Deeley.
According to the Daily Mail, in October 2019, Ricky Deeley was stopped by police in Marion County, Florida, as part of a routine traffic stop. It came to light that Deeley was driving with a suspended license, one passenger had an arrest warrant out against him, and the other passenger had a lot of illicit property on his person, including a gun, marijuana, and methamphetamine. The Marion County Sheriff’s Department posted the mugshots of all three offenders online, but Deeley’s took off, likely because of his large, protruding nose and his large, protruding ears. Social media jokesters immediately compared Deeley to Shrek, Gollum, and Dumbo the elephant.
Tattoos: They’re not just for sailors and bikers anymore. Some permanent ink on the body has become a completely mainstream phenomenon — except for facial tattoos. Applying pictures and designs to one’s face is a niche and audacious pursuit that isn’t seen too much in North America, and human curiosity and the need to gawk at things that are different are probably why mugshots featuring a woman named Alyssa Zebrasky went viral. Twice in late 2018, according to Cleveland 19 News, the Ohio woman was arrested by police on assorted theft, drug, and police evasion charges.
Zebrasky’s appearance is quite memorable: Her face and neck are covered with several tattoos, which combine to give an overall look reminiscent of the traditional folk art associated with the Mexican holiday of Dia de Los Muertos. Zebrasky’s eyes are outlined in black, red, and a petal pattern, ink stitches line her lips, the bridge of her nose is covered entirely in black, and a spiderweb graces her forehead.
This photograph of Angenette Welk of Ocala, Flordia, spread far and wide across the internet in 2018. Welk’s mugshot went viral because of her big, sunny, and infectious grin — not usually the reaction most people can muster when they’ve been arrested and are facing a trial and possibly a prison sentence for their actions. Perhaps it also went viral because that smile darkly juxtaposes with the terrible crimes of which she was accused.
In May 2018, per Villages-News, Welk crashed her Chevy Avalanche into a vehicle driven by 18-year-old Shiyanne Kroll and her 60-year-old mother, Sandra Clarkson. Kroll’s car then rammed into a horse trailer on the back of Kevin McMinn’s truck. After field sobriety tests showed that Welk’s blood alcohol content was twice Florida’s legal limit, she was arrested, was all grins for the police photographer, and was released on $10,000 bond. After Clarkson died of accident-related injuries at a hospital, Welk faced a new charge of DUI manslaughter and was rearrested. She did not smile in that booking photograph.
Megan Thee Stallion
The ability of the internet to spread information and photos with near-instantaneous speed means a mugshot can be captured, posted on a police department’s Facebook page, and then make its way around the world by the morning when the photographed suspect gets released from custody. However, as detailed by Complex, a police photo of Megan Pete took a good five years to make the digital rounds – because the subject later became famous.
Megan Pete is the government name of rapper Megan Thee Stallion, and when her old mugshot went viral, she took to Instagram Live to provide some backstory. In 2015, she attended the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, which is when she found out that her boyfriend at the time had not only been unfaithful but had also fathered a child. Since they were in public, Pete said she tried to keep a cool head, but the boyfriend started "pulling and pushing" her. "It was toxic," she said of the relationship. A witness called police, who questioned the couple, at which point the boyfriend claimed that Pete struck him. "You got to know they sent me straight to jail!" she said. "I ain’t never been cuffed in my life." The musician spent two days in jail and was ultimately cleared of any charges.
A mugshot related to a 2002 drunk driving arrest packed all the qualities necessary to go viral. The subject appeared extremely disheveled and was dressed in a fun and festive Hawaiian-style shirt that contrasted greatly with the seriousness of the criminal charge and the less-than-super-healthy state of its wearer. Also, it involved a famous person, and celebrity mugshots are almost guaranteed to spread far and wide, as millions find the fall from grace of a rich and acclaimed person to be irresistible.
In September 2002, Academy Award-nominated actor Nick Nolte was arrested on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, California, when an officer noticed that the 61-year-old 48 Hours star was "weaving and driving erratically." Nolte was charged with two misdemeanor counts: driving under the influence and being under the influence of the drug GHB. That intoxicant "was one substance I ran into that I shouldn’t have messed with," Nolte told People in 2018. Days after he posted bail and was released, Nolte checked into a rehabilitation facility.