Annabelle

Date of Discovery

First discovered to be haunted in 1970.

Name

Annabelle, also referenced as the Annabelle doll.

The Real Annabelle doll locked up in the Warren Occult Museum
Artwork by Mary Farnstrom

Physical Description

Despite her being reinvented on screen as a creepy porcelain doll, Annabelle is actually a plain-looking Raggedy Ann doll with the traditional red yarn hair, large black button eyes, and a white dress with blue frill trimmings.

Origin

Annabelle is a particular haunted object, so her manifestation only occurs within the doll in question which originated in the United States. She now resides in The Warren’s Occult Museum, which has been permanently closed.

Mythology and Lore

Annabelle’s story begins in 1970 when a 28-year-old nurse received the Raggedy Ann doll as a gift from her mother. She began to notice the doll changing positions, crossing its legs and arms, lying on its side, and even standing upright, as well as finding parchments on the floor with various messages written on them, such as, “help me, help us, help Lou.” The girls reported seeing the doll begin appearing in completely different rooms and leaking blood.

Visiting guests also reported the doll strangely staring at them, deep scratch wounds, and the feeling of being strangled. They eventually turned to a medium for help, who informed them the spirit was of Annabelle Higgins a seven-year-old who had been found lifeless in the field upon which their apartment complex was built. The girls let Annabelle’s young spirit inhabit the doll, only to find things getting much worse, as she was looking to take a human host.

Lou described one event with the doll, in which he stated that he heard noises within one of the bedrooms. Upon entering the room, he found Annabelle tossed on the floor and as he got closer, he was cut and began to bleed from his chest. Seven distinct claw marks, three vertically and four horizontally were burning his chest. They reported having healed within two full days after said event. The three ended up calling Father Hegan who reached out to Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens’ conclusion was that this was an inhuman spirit rather than a young girl.

Ed and Lorraine took Annabelle with them to be safely kept at their museum of occult objects–both Ed and Lorraine felt the doll’s effects through travel as their car would stall or swerve off the curved roads. Though the Warrens’ only report the doll having killed one man who was said to challenge the doll, main stories have come about from visitors at their museum. One of the more famous stories about this doll is a motorcyclist that visited the Warrens’ museum and touched Annabelle despite the obvious posted warnings around the case. The motorcyclist died in a horrific crash shortly after being asked to leave the museum.

The doll is forever locked in a glass cabinet in the Warrens’ artifact room at their occult museum, with a cross on top of it, the Devil tarot card for protection, and warnings in place to keep visitors out of harm’s way. There are reports that it is regularly blessed by Roman Catholic priest/holy men, but sparse evidence has been provided on the rituals themselves. A few holy men have reportedly experienced car accidents and other weird occurrences after leaving the museum and dealing with the doll. Lorraine Warren now looks after Annabelle as well as the other occult collection to this day, despite the museum’s closure.

Modern Pop-Culture References

Movies



Is there anything we missed about Annabelle? Let us know in the comments section below!

Categories
Horror Mystery and Lore

The Real Annabelle and Other Truly Haunted Dolls

Close up view of a creepy dirty porcelain doll
Photography by Patrick Hendry

Any object can be haunted, but perhaps due to the fact that dolls are physically modeled to bear a resemblance to human beings, they have more of a proclivity to be vessels of spirit possession. According to Ghosts in Popular Culture and Legend, “haunted dolls are either possessed by malign, nonhuman entities or earthbound spirits—who are usually female—either children who died as a result of a horrific accident or women who are the victims of domestic violence. In both instances, prospective buyers are cautioned to treat the dolls with respect and to rehome them with another buyer if the object becomes too much to handle; destruction would free the spirit and either cause it distress or make it more dangerous.”

The Real Annabelle doll locked up in the Warren Occult Museum
Artwork by Mary Farnstrom

An exception to the gender stereotype that plagues the haunted doll theory, is Robert the Enchanted Doll. This particular doll has been located in Key West, Florida since 1904 and is still on display in the Fort East Martello Museum. The original owner of Robert was a four-year-old boy named Robert Eugene Otto—Gene to his family—the doll was given to him by the family’s maid and activity started immediately after Gene came into possession of the doll. While the doll’s name is Robert, little is known about the spirit that haunts the doll, all is known are the stories that are told about its activity. During Gene’s childhood, Robert was frequently blamed for items being scattered across the home, as well as upturned furniture. As an adult, Gene maintained ownership of the doll, but knowing what it was capable of, he locked it in the turret of his home, where neighborhood children said they saw it staring at them from the windows, often changing places on its own.

It’s unclear as to why people still insist upon wanting to own spirit-possessed dolls, but what is clear is that it’s sure to be a trend that continues on for quite a while. One possible reason why these things continue to be items that are sought after is that there are a lot of would-be paranormal investigators who have little to no experience dealing with spirits in the first place. They get the idea that they can collect evidence and make it big if they come into ownership of a doll, simultaneously proving the existence of ghosts and the dolls they haunt, as well as making a name for themselves. Whatever their motivation, it feels like they lack the guidance to understand what they are getting themselves into and therefore are making decisions without knowing the full risks of their endeavors.

Annabelle the Doll: The Origins Documentary

The True Horror Story Behind Annabelle

Annabelle (2014) Trailer

Haunted dolls are considered a commodity in today’s culture, due to popular horror culture making them popular with horror films like The Conjuring (2013), Annabelle (2014), Annabelle: Creation (2017), and the most recent horror movie Annabelle Comes Home (2019). People enjoy the fictional horror stories so intensely that they feel a connection to haunted objects without realizing the perils that can be attached to them. The story behind The Conjuring and Annabelle franchise though is actually more real than many people realize—sure the movies are amped up to create the thrills and adrenaline rush that people so desire, but these movies were based on true accounts of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.

Annabelle: Creation (2017) Trailer

The Warren’s Museum of the Occult contains more haunted and cursed objects than any other museum presently known, which serves as evidence of the paranormal and supernatural forces that are at work within this world. Although I have never been to the museum myself, it is said that the collection is dominated by dolls that are haunted or inhabited by evil spirits—the most well-known of which is actually the real Annabelle doll. There is a rather long and convoluted history about the doll and its origin, which is further convoluted by the fictional embellishments added to the movies.

Annabelle Comes Home (2019) Trailer

What has been alleged is that the doll’s original owner consulted a medium who said the doll was actually inhabited by an evil spirit and not a ghost at all—which is when the Warrens took possession of it, had it exorcised, then locked it in a blessed cabinet to ward off any potential activity from starting at their own house. The whole story is spoken of in-depth in the book The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren. The real Annabelle is quite a bit different from her presence in the films, where she is portrayed as a fragile, yet incredibly creepy porcelain doll with exaggerated features. In reality, she is what seems to be a run of the mill Raggedy Ann doll, the same type that many of us girls owned as children, something that would seem soft, safe, and cuddly.

Dolls like Robert and Annabelle remain objects of scary stories and fascination for a lot of people across the world and while the idea of them definitely belongs to the public, the dolls belong in a place where they can be properly warded and kept away from unsuspecting bystanders.