Until eBay’s recent policy changes that prohibits the sale of haunted items, haunted dolls were common on the auction website. The internet is full of stories of dolls sold on the website that were said to wreak havoc on the homes of the buyers who purchased them. Many of these dolls were resold on the site, some gaining the cult popularity associated with the Dybbuk Box.
Are these dolls haunted? Are the just being manipulated by regular ghosts? Is there a spirit created for the dolls, like with the creation of a voodoo doll? Magic practitioners may be creating golem-like creatures and bringing them to life with the dolls as their homes. Or maybe actual ghosts decide residing in a doll is as close as they’re gonna get to being back in a body. There are as many theories about haunted dolls as there are claimed-to-be haunted dolls themselves.
Here's a look at some of the most famous haunted doll stories:
Robert the Doll
Perhaps the most famous "haunted doll" is Robert the doll. Robert was given to 5 year old Eugene Otto in 1906 by a Bahamian servant employed by his family, who was said to be well versed in voodoo. The family hired her after moving to Key West, and fired her shortly after she gifted their son with the doll. Eugene immediately fell in love with the doll and took it with him everywhere he went. Soon after Eugene's parents grew concerned when they would hear him talking to the doll, and another voice talking back.
|Robert the Doll|
Eventually Robert was locked away in the attic where he stated for 20 years. Eugene's parents passed away and he inherited the house. He and his wife were rummaging through the attic and came across Robert. He was taken back downstairs and before long the strange occurrences began again. Following loud noises Robert would often be found sitting in a rocking chair, the chair rocking.
Eugene insisted on keeping the doll until his death in 1974. It was then left in the attic until the house was sold. The new owners had a ten year old daughter who soon began to scream out in the night and claim the doll not only moved but was trying to kill her.
Robert is now on display at the Fort East Martello Museum According to legend, visitors to the museum wishing to take a picture of Robert must first ask him permission (which he apparently grants by tilting his head). If they do not receive permission and take the photo anyway, they are cursed. Staff claims that giggling is often heard and the doll sometimes inexplicably changes positions slightly.
Joilet the Cursed Doll
Joilet the doll has been passed down through four generations in the same family, from mother to daughter. A curse attached to the doll caused each of the women to have a son who died at 3 days old. The family believes the spirits of the boys are cursed to live within the doll until Judgement Day.
|Joliet the Cursed Doll|
The sound of several babies crying at once can be heard coming from the doll at night. The doll was originally given to the great grandmother of the family by a jealous friend when she was pregnant with her second child, a boy. One would think that getting rid of the doll couldn't hurt in trying to break the curse, but the women refuse to do so because they feel the souls of their children live within the doll and care for it as if it were a real child.
Pupa's original owner had the doll from the 1920s until her death in 2005. With her it had survived World War II, and came with her from Italy to the United States. Over the years it traveled with her back to Italy and across Europe.
The family who now owns Pupa says objects in the display case where she is kept are frequently moved around. Since the passing of her original owner the doll has became more active, perhaps wanting to be released from her showcase.
|Pupa in her original blue felt dress|
They often find the doll positioned differently than where they left her. On several occasions they have heard a tapping on the glass of the case. Upon hearing the noise, they look to find Pupa's hands pressed against the glass.
I'm not sure if this story quite fits the haunted category, but it definitely deserves a mention. The town of Pulau Ubin in Singapore is the home to a shrine that holds a Barbie doll where a statue of a deity usually resides. Instead of the usual offerings worshipers leave her creams, makeup, small combs, and mirrors.
A German couple and their daughter moved to Pulau Ubin to start a coffee plantation. World War I broke out. Being a British colony, any Germans were thought to be possible spies. British soldiers came to take the family. They captured the parents but the daughter managed to flee. However, her fate was not to be a happy one. Alone on the property she fell from a cliff and died.
Locals built the temple to pacify the girl's spirit. According to the temple's keeper, the alter originally held a porcelain idol and a lock of the girl's hair. Years later an Australian immigrant had a recurring dream in which a little girl would ask him to take her to a toy shop, then ask him to buy a Barbie doll and take it to the Lady Na Tuk Gong Shrine. In an effort to stop the dreams the man went looking for the shop in his dream, and to his surprise found it along with the doll the girl had described to him. He bought the doll and took it to the temple. Today people come from all over to worship and say their prayers for safety and health are answered.
Annabell the Demon Doll
I've saved the best for last. In 1970 a mother purchased a vintage Raggedy Ann doll for her daughter, Donna. Donna was a nurse and lived with a roommate who was also a nurse. She loved the gift and sat the doll on her bed. The two soon noticed something wasn't quite right with the doll. At first it would appear to move slightly while they were away, then they would come home to find it in a completely different part of the house.
After about a month they began to find notes in the house written on parchment paper with a pencil that would say "Help Us" and "Help Lou." Lou was a mutual friend of the roommates. After coming home to find the doll on her bed covered in a red blood-like substance the friends contacted a medium to hold a séance. They were told the spirit of a 7 year old girl named Annabell Higgins lived in the doll. She had once lived there and been found dead on the property. Feeling sympathetic for the child spirit the roommates allowed her to stay there with them.
|Annabell as she currently resides|
It soon became apparent that Annabell wasn't what she seemed. Lou had recurring nightmares about the doll. He awoke from one of these dreams to see the doll at the foot of his bed. He couldn't move and watched helplessly as the doll climbed up on his bed and strangled him. He blacked out, and woke the next morning sure the incident hadn't been a dream. He urged the roommates to get rid of the doll.
Days later Lou was at Donna's planning a trip. They heard a loud crash from Donna's room. Fearful an intruder had broken into the house, Lou went to inspect. He found Annabell tossed on the floor. He felt a presence behind him. When he turned to look, fearing a (human) intruder, he was met with a pain in his chest. Looking down he saw blood coming from what appeared to be 7 claw marks.
Donna was now convinced Annabell wasn't the spirit of a little girl and consulted a priest who referred her to groundbreaking paranormal investigators Ed and Loraine Warren. (If you're not familiar with paranormal history you may recognize Loraine from her appearances on A&E's Paranormal State.) They concluded an evil spirit had attached itself to the doll. It could not, however, possess an inanimate object and was looking for a human host to possess. The demonic entity had moved the doll hoping to get a medium in to convince the girls it was the spirit of a little girl so they would sympathize with it, according to the Warrens, which it had accomplished. They concluded that if left to go on another week or two the demonic spirit would have accomplished its goal of possessing a human and possibly even killing everyone in the house.
|Loraine Warren leaving with Annabell|
The Warrens had an Episcopal priest come and bless the house and took the doll with them when they left. Ed claimed to have seen the doll levitate from the chair it sat in several times and when they would go out and return home they would often find the doll in a different part of the house than it had been left. Neither of them were ever physically attacked by the doll. Annabelle currently resides in Loraine Warren’s Occult Museum in Moodus, Connecticut.
This short video clip from YouTube shows a girl with a doll she was given as a present. Real or fake? Definitely creepy: