When we’re children, we find comfort in dolls. But when we’re adults, we sometimes find them a little creepy. That may be why there are so many tales of haunted dolls. Here are five of the scariest.
Annabelle is a Raggedy Ann doll, now imprisoned in special glass case in the collection of the famous paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Annabelle is so famous that she was the inspiration for a movie and a sequel.
In the movie, Annabelle is played by a much creepier looking doll. In real life, Annabelle has the same sweet face of any Raggedy Ann. Her story, however, is not sweet at all. According to the Warrens, Annabelle was given to a young nursing student named Donna by her mother in 1970. The doll would move around the apartment when Donna and her roommate Angie weren’t home. The young women were willing to put up with a doll that moved around on her own, but things soon got scarier. The doll left notes asking for help. Then she attacked Angie’s boyfriend. When the young women found blood on the doll’s dress, they called in a psychic. The psychic revealed the doll was possessed by the spirit of a girl named Annabelle.
The girls’ next call was to the Warrens who took Annabelle out of their hands, putting her in a glass case with a written warning to the unsuspecting: “Positively Do Not Open.”
2. Robert the Doll
Robert was an inspiration for the terrifying Chucky doll of the Child’s Play series. Robert is a life-sized doll, which is rather unusual in itself. It was reportedly made by the famous Steiff toy company in Germany. It was given to the Florida artist Robert Eugene “Gene” Otto as a birthday present when he was a child in 1904. His grandfather had bought it while on a trip to Germany. The doll wears a sailor suit that was probably a childhood outfit of the real Gene. Another story has it that the doll was a gift from a malicious voodoo-practicing maid as revenge for some unknown wrongdoing by the family.
Stories of the doll’s odd behavior began early, with reports of the doll changing expressions and moving around the house on its own. One theory says that Gene himself unleashed the doll’s powers by blaming his childhood misdeeds on the life-size doll who wore his clothes and had his name. Those who lived in the house reported hearing Gene talking to Robert—perhaps not that unusual, but Robert would talk back.
Related: Robert the Haunted Doll
As the years went on, Robert’s deeds turned darker. The doll is blamed for many misfortunes including financial collapse, broken bones, and car accidents. Robert remained in the Otto family home in Key West, Florida throughout Gene’s life and even after his death. The house passed to new owners who kept the ‘living’ doll for twenty years. Robert now resides in a museum in Key West, where brave tourists can visit him.
The furry red Elmo doll is one of the most successful toys ever sold. Talking Elmo dolls have been a must-have holiday gift since the first one was sold in 1996. Early Elmos giggled when they were tickled. They acquired larger vocabularies as the years went on. But that doesn’t explain the Elmo Knows Your Name doll purchased by the Bowman family in 2008 for their two-year-old son James. Elmo Knows Your Name was programmed to speak its owner’s name along with a few other phrases. But when the Bowmans changed Elmo’s batteries, he started ad-libbing. In a sing-songy voice, the doll chanted “Kill James.” Not something any parent is likely to find endearing.
Mandy does not play well with others. In the Quesnel Museum in Canada where she now lives, staff say they must keep her in a separate display case. When she is displayed with other dolls, she knocks them over. Staff also report their lunches disappear and that visitors’ cameras often fail when taking pictures of the doll. Mandy is a porcelain baby doll, probably manufactured in Europe around 1910. The woman who donated her reportedly told the museum she was getting rid of the doll because it would cry at night.
5. The Haunted Gang
Most haunted dolls are dumped by their owners when they start behaving badly. But the owners of these eight dolls were reportedly interested in paranormal phenomena and bought this collection because they were said to be possessed. Their names: Chrystal, Monika, Sharla, True, Isaac, Lilly, Cameron and Ashley. The owners have a camera constantly recording the dolls and other parts of the house. In 2009, one camera appears to have recorded something strange: a ghostly boy appearing at the bottom of a staircase.