Famous Haunted Dolls

Robert the Haunted Doll

"“Places aren’t haunted. People are haunted."
~Jennifer Love Hewitt as “Melinda” on Ghost Whisperer



In recent years, the topic of haunted dolls has taken on a new popularity among paranormal investigators and those that are interested in stories related to ghosts, demons, and other types of spiritual entities. One of the most popular stories that pertain to haunted dolls is the one about Robert the haunted doll. While it is not at all uncommon for a child to play and interact with a doll in an imaginative way, most dolls are not believed to be possessed by a spirit that is considered to be sinister according to those that have directly experienced its mysterious ways. According to the story associated with the haunted doll referred to as “Robert” the interactions that this toy has with the living is more than simple play and imagination…it is pure evil at work. If you have an interest in haunted dolls, you will likely take an interest in this story.

The Otto Family

Robert Eugene Otto, a famous artist, was often referred to as many different things. He was often called “artistically inclined”, “intelligent”, “creative” and even “eccentric”. His wife’s name was Anne. She spent many hours entertaining the public in her own style. Her specialty was playing the piano. While she thoroughly enjoyed playing jazz, she also had the capability of playing concert music as well. They were the parents of a son who they referred to as “Gene”. The couple eventually decided to settle in the tropical depths of a Florida City called Key West in a home that was constructed somewhere between the years of 1890 and 1898. The beautiful structure was designed in an architectural style that was popular among the socially elite of the time. This style was referred to as “Colonial Queen Ann”.

Despite their best intentions to be ideal parents, it seemed that they were so caught up in their careers and personal pursuits that they lacked the time and devotion to focus on the physical and emotional needs of their young son. When they did take time out of their busy lives to tend to their son, they were often too harsh on him. As a matter of fact, many that witnessed their interactions with their child often described them as being “stern”. The Otto’s spent a lot of time traveling, so they wanted to live in a location that had appeal and had a high level of relaxation and accommodations. Despite the fact that they enjoyed Key West at first, eventually they would come to a point where they were not as happy with their home as they were initially.

The Nurse

The Otto’s lived a luxurious lifestyle on the most part. As a matter of fact, they had such a high level of wealth that it is said that they hired many different individuals to serve as the staff of the home that is today referred to as “The Artist House”. One of the individuals that they hired was to act as what was referred to at the turn of the century as a “Nurse”. This woman, who happened to be Jamaican, had the responsibility of taking care of young Gene while his parents worked and traveled. The woman would spend several hours a day with the young child. She really enjoyed his company and knew just how hard his parents were on him. She saw him as young and neglected and did her best to care for him. For her, it was more than just a job – it was a way of life. She enjoyed her position in the Otto home.

The Parting Gift

Gene, whose first name was really Robert, eventually had to say goodbye to the nurse that he grew to love. Rumor has it that one day, the woman made Mrs. Otto extremely angry. As a result, the servant was immediately terminated from her position. It was not until the day that she had to leave that she provided little Gene with a gift that she had been working on in her spare time for him. It was a doll that was created to resemble him, complete with a beautiful little sewed on suit that reflected those that sailors wore. Now, if you are interested in haunted dolls, this is where the story of Robert the haunted doll officially starts. The lady that provided Gene with his gift stated that the doll’s name was “Robert” – just like his real first name. She said her goodbyes to the little boy and headed out of his home and his life.

Since the nurse was now gone, the little boy immediately took to the doll and could be seen lugging the imperfectly designed toy around wherever he went. At the time, the concept of haunted dolls had not yet received attention. Gene could be heard and seen playing and talking to the uniquely, hand-sewn doll regularly. Everywhere that he went, his little doll went as well. According to stories passed down, unusual events started to transpire in the Otto home. Many individuals that overheard the young boy playing with the doll and expressed how, at times, they could hear fear and anger in the child’s voice. In some instances, they claimed that the voice that they heard from behind the closed doors where the little boy played was not his. The servants expressed their concern to Gene’s mother and also informed her that the nurse that provided the gift was an avid practitioner of Voodoo.

Was Robert to Blame?

Eventually, many different types of unusual phenomenon started to occur within the Otto home. It was not at all unusual for individuals in and around the home to hear the sound of unusual, sinister laughter. Dishes would often be tossed about with no known explanation, and other items in the home would be messed up or destroyed in one way or another. In nearly all cases of these incidents, Gene and his little doll were found close by. Naturally, the parents felt as if Gene may be purposely causing the events to transpire out of a rebellion of some type. Being the harsh and stern parents that they were, they would consistently punish gene – despite the fact that he was insistent that he had not done those things, but Robert the haunted doll did them. This explanation did nothing more than just infuriate Mr. Otto and Mrs. Otto. However, as the incidents became more frequent, the servants consulted with the Otto’s and explained that there seemed to be some sort of evil associated with Robert the haunted doll. The Otto’s did not put much faith in the concept of haunted dolls, but shared the possibility with relatives.

One of the relatives, which happened to be Gene’s Great Aunt, made a suggestion based on the fact that there could be such thing as haunted dolls. She believed that if the doll was stored securely in the attic, then perhaps the issues experienced in the home would come to a stop. The Otto’s felt that this was an ideal plan. Despite the begging and pleading of Gene, they placed the doll in a tight, secure box and left it upstairs in the attic. Now, it could be coincidence, but the night after Robert the haunted doll was stored away, the well-loved Great Aunt passed away in her sleep. Gene had such an issue with his loss, that his parents let him have his toy back – never considering the fact that if haunted dolls were, in fact, real – that it could have had something to do with their loved one’s death.

From that point forward, the doll remained in Gene’s possession. Gene showed an unusual attachment to the doll even into his adult years. Servants continued to work in and around the home. However, many would quit after experiencing different types of paranormal activity. Though the rumors of haunted dolls was often laughed off at first, many servants started to believe the stories associated with Robert the haunted doll after they were subjected to sinister laughter, mysterious whispers, and other types of unexplained phenomenon. It was not at all unusual for many servants to quit on a daily basis. The stories of haunted dolls and Robert spread rapidly among those that believed that they experienced his evil spirit firsthand.

Lost Love

Despite the rumors associated with Robert the haunted doll, Gene eventually got married to a woman that he loved very much. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worst in the relationship. The new Mrs. Otto absolutely loved Gene, but he was unusually attached to the doll and continued to take it with him everywhere that he went and it was present whenever he and his wife traveled or spent time together. His wife grew to hate the doll and the unusual attachment that her husband had to it. She became tormented on a mental level. Eventually, she was diagnosed as being officially “insane”. She remained in the marriage, but passed away a very short time immediately after her diagnosis. While Robert the haunted doll has been moved from the home called “The Artist House”, many believe that the spirit of Gene’s wife haunts the home.

The New Owners

Eventually, little Gene grew into an old man and passed away as well. The Artist House was sold and the new owners moved in – very excited about the beautiful home that they had acquired. They discovered the homemade doll and decided to just put it back in the attic. Unfortunately, this decision would haunt them regularly. They claim that unusual noises could be heard in and around the home – including the same ominous laughter that had been heard when the Otto family lived in the home. Soon, the evil doll started to make an appearance at random locations through the home. No one moved the doll – it seemed that it could move from one location to another on its own. Naturally, the home terrified the new owners and they immediately left. It seemed that the last straw was when the obviously possessed and evil doll was found standing at their bed with an evil glaze upon them while holding a knife.

Do You Believe?

Are there haunted dolls in the world? If you were to ask anyone that lived in The Artist House, or has had a direct encounter with Robert the haunted doll, the answer would be an adamant “yes”. This doll is on regular display at the museum called “East Martello Museum”, but he is shipped back to the Custom House in the month of October every single year. Many that have come in contact with this toy claim that he sometimes displays different expressions and they sense the evil associated with the toy. Do you believe in haunted dolls? If not, perhaps you should observe Robert the haunted doll face to face. It is then that you will be able to determine why this doll is considered to be in a vault of unsolved mysteries.



Recommended References


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