Welcome, one and all, to another installment of Fact or Fiction, the series where I check out bizarre things and try to ascertain if they’re real or not. This time around I’m looking at the famous Joe Martinez photo. If you don’t know the story behind the photo, it can be summed up thusly:
Joe Martinez was a drug addict. His life was affected just the way you’d expect by this until one incident caused him to make changes. While he and his wife were at his in-law’s anniversary party, a photo was snapped of him that appeared to show a demonic creature peering over his shoulder. Joe, believing this was Satan himself, was terrified. So, he quit drugs completely, has remained drug0free ever since, and still carries the photo around in his wallet as a reminder of who he used to be.
Simple enough story, right? But what of the photo? Well, it’s hard to see what he did in the full-length picture. Once you start zooming in though, it becomes clear:
The first thing I want to discuss is the possibility of photo tampering. One of the two most obvious explanations for the photo would, after all, be that it was entirely faked. I’m not an expert in photography, so I can’t actually tell you much myself.
Joe has consistently maintained that he passed the photo to various people and they were unable to find evidence of tampering, though he doesn’t say who. It was taken in 2007, so it’s possible that experts have learned new techniques to test such things these days, but I wouldn’t really know. This site does cite an actual source though by the name of John Davenport (Roach Photo). He states that there is no sign of tampering, mentioning the grain being uniform indicates that it wasn’t spliced n or double printed.
If we want to be picky with John’s assessment, I would guess that the grain could be added afterward. Seeing more photos from the same event would be useful in that regard. Double exposure would also be a possibility, though I’m not sure how to tell if that’s the case.
Moving on, the other explanation would be that it’s a photobombing dog. That makes sense. As you can see in the shot above, the animal looks a little like a dark-furred husky or a possibly a Doberman. Is this possible? Well, it could be.
You can see I the full-length photo that there’s no way there’s a dog is stood directly Joe and his wife. Both the positioning of the couple and the size of the dog’s head give that away. This means the dog would have to be stood on the table I the background if that’s correct. So, let’s do some maths.
The average height of a table is 76 cm. Dobermans’ heights range from 76cm to 90cm, while huskies are 67cm to 79cm. So, if we take the maximum heights there, we’d be looking at 76m plus 90cm, giving the top of the dogs head being placed at 166cm, or 5’4”. The average height of an American male is 5’10. Which would make this plausible. Either breed would need to have jumped up slightly, but the height difference isn’t that high, and the couple are close enough to the table for it to not need to be too high a jump.
The thing that goes against this theory is that there were apparently no dogs in the building. Nobody ah come forward to disagree with this, and as per this site, nobody has reported any animals or guests that could have pulled it off. That in itself would mean that it most likely couldn’t be a dog if true. After all, it’s unlikely that someone could not notice a dog that size wandering around. But there could be another explanation. Check out this video:
There are three things to note. The first is that the demonic presence was not discovered until eight years after the event. Memories fade, and it’s possible that a dog was present, but nobody remembered it. Joe’s friends and family are also no doubt thrilled that he kicked the drug habit. If you knew him and he put that change down to seeing a demon, would you really want to tell him that he’s wrong?
The third is a point that I haven’t seen mentioned before. Have a look at the close-up again, and pay attention to the point I’ve circled below.
That little mark is similar in colour to the lighter section of the animal’s face. If it’s a dog, and it’s leaping up trying to get someone’s attention it could well twist its body. Meanwhile, if it’s sitting or standing, the tail could creep upward.
Both scenarios work if this is a Doberman. The underside of Doberman’s tails can match their lighter markings. They’re also long enough to creep up that high if the dog is leaping up on their hindleg or sitting. If they’re standing, you’d expect to see more of it in most cases. But, it’s not uncommon to dock a Dobermans tail. A docked tail could fit with that shot and that scenario. Of course, it’s also similar in colour to the structure behind the photobomber, so it could be that.
Then, there’s the possibility that it really is a demon. It’s on his left shoulder, and the ‘Left-Hand Path’ is often associated with the occult. Meanwhile, there’s a long history of Demons being associated with damaging behaviours. Galatians 5:18-21 in the Bible states the following:
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiosness, idolatry, sorcery (pharmakeia), enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkeness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Pharmakeia was often used to reference sorcery involving potions. Or, in other words, it could be referencing drugs. If you believe in Demons and Christianity, it certainly adds up that Joe could be right about what is peering over his shoulder.
So, where does that leave us? Well, that’s difficult. I’m a believer in the paranormal, so I don’t want to rule out the possibility of it being a demon. Most fake stories also involve a lot more details than we get on this one too, which actually makes me feel like the photo hasn’t been intentionally faked. When it comes to double exposure and so on, I couldn’t say one way or another. I do think that a dog being present is possible, maybe even likely, but without more information from other people, it’s hard to tell for certain.
That doesn’t matter though. In essence, whether the photo is a demon or not doesn’t matter either. What matters most, in my opinion, is that it helped turn someone’s life around in a positive way. Let me know fi you agree in the comments below.