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Peering From A Window

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Robert The Haunted Doll

By James Donahue

Displayed at the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West, Florida, is an eerie looking pock-faced doll with a notorious history. This doll named Robert is said to be so haunted that it makes cameras stop working if anybody uses them to take its picture.

Robert the doll was owned by the late painter and author Robert Eugene Otto, who died in 1974. It is said he was presented as a gift to Otto by a Bahamian maid and practitioner of voodoo in 1906. But something happened that angered the maid and caused her to curse the doll before leaving the household. After this, the doll reportedly plagued the Otto home in strange ways.

Robert Otto was just a child when given the doll. As the story is told, the boy had a favorite sailor outfit that he always wore. The maid created the doll out of straw and made it in the boy’s likeness, even dressing it in the same sailor suit. Young Robert liked the doll so much that he took it with him everywhere, even to bed with him. The doll even had a special chair at the dinner table.

Sometimes the household servants, and even the parents, thought they heard the boy talking to the doll. They said they heard two distinct voices coming from the playroom. It was as if the child was talking to the doll and the doll was answering him.

After Otto married, his wife, Ann, became so spooked by the doll that she banished it to the turret room at the top of their Victorian mansion. Children passing the house on their way to and from school told of seeing Robert looking out at them from various windows in the turret room. The Ottos swore they never moved the doll.

After Robert Otto died in 1974, the doll remained in a trunk in the turret room until the house came under new ownership. The new family had a 10-year-old daughter who found and adopted Robert the doll. But then the firl began screaming out in the night, claiming the doll was moving around the room and once it even tried to attack her.

The doll was the inspiration for Chucky the evil doll appearing in the horror film Child’s Play.