Some cases of haunted dolls are more famous than others – and many believe that of all the possessed dolls in the world, Robert is the most haunted of all.
In 1906, a boy named Robert Eugene Otto received a one of a kind doll. Standing over three feet tall, the doll was constructed of excelsior, and was dressed in a sailor suit. The doll once had painted facial features but has since worn off over time.
While it is agreed that the doll was one of a kind and made by hand, there is dispute as to who originally created the doll. Some state that the doll was crafted by a German company and given to Robert Eugene Otto as a present from a relative.
Others believe the doll was made by a woman who was employed by the Otto family. They believe that the woman was angry with her employers, and placed a voodoo curse on the doll before giving it to the boy as a gift.
Whatever the case, there is no denying that the doll is most certainly haunted.
As a boy, Robert Eugene Otto decided to go by the name of Eugene. When he received the doll, he decided to call it Robert. The moment Eugene set eyes on Robert the doll, the two became inseparable.
Not long after Eugene received the doll, strange things began to occur in the Otto household, which was located in Key West. Whenever an accident would occur, such as a broken dish or a spill, Eugene would claim that Robert was the culprit. Mr. and Mrs. Otto often found mutilated or destroyed toys. Whenever they did, Eugene insisted that it had been Roberts doing.
Eugene’s parents, along with various visitors, began to hear Eugene converse with the doll – and a strange, unrecognizable voice would respond back. Once in a while, they believed the doll giggled; a high pitched, almost maniacal laugh that sent chills down their spines.
Children that lived next door to the Otto family began to claim that the doll often watched them from different windows throughout the house, especially when nobody was at home. Some of them claimed that they saw Robert’s expression change – sometimes he would even blink.
Sometimes, Eugene’s parents would wake in the middle of the night to hear their son screaming at the top of his lungs. They would run to his room to find all the furniture in different places. Each time Eugene would be curled up in bed, looking terrified. Each time he blamed Robert for the mess…
According to some people who have studied the case, one of Eugene’s aunts convinced his parents to get rid of the doll once and for all. She volunteered to take Robert home with her and store him in her attic. Not long after, she was found dead in her home, due to a massive stroke.
Despite the strange, often negative things, that were caused (maybe?) by the doll, Eugene insisted on keeping it. In fact, he kept the doll even as he grew up to be an adult.
Mr. and Mrs. Otto were both artistically inclined, and their son also grew up to be an artist. His works, along with some of his writings, were met with vast praise, and he became a notable person in Key West.
Eugene’s home was painted in many vibrant colors, and it became known as the Artist House. Some folks believed that Eugene dedicated a room in the house to Robert the doll. Inside the room, he decorated it as if for a child, complete with furniture and toys that Eugene had during his youth.
Eugene kept Robert until 1974, when he passed away.
Noises in the Attic
Not long after, a woman named Myrtle Reuter purchased the Artist House. When she found Robert within the house, she felt compelled to keep him there, perhaps as tribute to Eugene. She put Robert in the attic and temporarily rented the house out.
The tenants had not been in the house for very long when they began to report the most peculiar things. They said that they frequently heard footsteps coming from the attic of the house. Every once in a while they would even hear someone giggle…
Needless to say, they didn’t stay for very long. Instead, Myrtle decided to move into the house. Despite her tenants’ reports – or perhaps because of them – Myrtle brought Robert down from the attic and kept him in the house.
During that time, other people confirmed that Robert was, indeed, haunted. Once a plumber was hired to do routine repairs to the Artist House. The man said he noticed Robert sitting near a corner, and when he turned back around a few moments later, Robert was on the other side of the room.
By this time, Robert had already started to become well known in the area. A reporter named Malcolm Ross was invited to the house to meet and engage with the haunted doll for a news segment.
Malcolm claimed that Robert’s facial expressions would alter as Malcolm, Myrtle and the cameraman conversed. He insisted that the doll had listened and was reacting to their conversation.
Still, Myrtle kept the doll. She even brought Robert with her when she moved out of the Artist House and onto Von Phister Street. She held onto Robert until 1994, when she decided to donate him to the Fort East Martello Museum, located in town.
When she did so, she stated that Robert was, without a doubt, haunted. He often moved around her house of his own volition.
Trouble at the Museum
Thus, Robert was put on display at Fort East Martello – a museum that, ironically, Eugene had helped design. The moment Robert became a part of the collection, museum staff noticed an immediate change.
Visitors began to claim that their various electronics and cameras would malfunction when they were near Robert, and would only begin to work properly after they moved away from the doll.
Stranger still, hundreds of letters were sent to the museum, addressed to the doll. The letters were written by previous visitors, apologizing to Robert for how they had behaved towards him while there.
To this day, Robert still gets many letters of apology.
Staff members have taken to forewarning visitors to always be respectful in the dolls presence. Some even suggest that visitors introduce themselves to Robert as an added precaution.
Many people are still convinced that Robert is the product of an elaborate voodoo curse, put in place by a disgruntled maid. Others stand by the theory that Eugene had been a vivacious and emotional child, and some of that energy had been absorbed and retained within the doll.
Regardless of these varying opinions, most people agree that Robert the doll is one of the most haunted objects in the entire world…