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Saturday, December 28, 2019

Decemystery (2019) 28: Annabelle

Annabelle as displayed in the Warren's museum.

Dolls are interesting. Beloved by children as toys, adults as collectables, and residential living places for the deceased, they have no age limit. They can be played with from ages newborn to 500-year-old dead men.

As for me personally, they creep me out. Their unblinking stare that bores into my soul, coupled with their perpetual smile, reminds me of a clown made of plastic. The only difference is that one thankfully won’t come to life and kill me a la John Wayne Gacy.

Or at least, that’s what I tell myself. Being a huge fan of the paranormal, I’m well aware of the reputation that dolls have for attracting ghosts—both benevolent and malevolent—to inhabit them.

I’m sure you’ve seen the videos on YouTube or on social media. Whether it be from a baby monitor or from a parent randomly recording their child playing. Somewhere, there’s a doll that suddenly turns its head or shifts around. There’s no visible strung or sign of another person. The child doesn’t move in a way that could cause the doll to move in the manner that it did. Rather, it seems like the doll came to life in a way that one would expect to see out of the Blumhouse version of Toy Story.

Why dolls are prone to being the toy of choice for spirits is a mystery in of itself. Perhaps next December, I’ll cover this. For now, my personal favorite theory is that the human-like appearance of dolls human-like appearance attracts ghosts to use them as a vessel to take up residence in. Helping matters is children are significantly more prone to come into contact with ghosts. Why this is is yet again another mystery entirely, so let’s get back on track.

As stated before: dolls can attract spirits that are both benevolent and malevolent. Today’s mystery is a case of the latter. She’s one of the most infamous haunted objects in the world. Odds are, you’ve heard of her name. Whether it be in passing, on television, in a YouTube video, or in a book.

That name is Annabelle.

Conjure Me A Mystery: The Mystery of Annabelle the Doll

Annabelle is an interesting case. The doll has managed to reach a status one would only expect to be held by a fictional character such as Chucky the Doll. Though during the 2010s, the doll was catapulted to fame thanks to The Conjuring films. As such, the doll now has her own trilogy of films: Annabelle, Annabelle: Creation, and Annabelle Comes Home. Rumor has it there’s a fourth solo film for the doll in development, so one can assume that there’s no stopping this porcelain menace from taking over the world.

Speaking of porcelain: although she’s portrayed as being made of it, the real life Annabelle is a Raggedy Ann doll. This change in design was presumably done as a stitched doll wasn’t as creepy as one that has a more unblinking, human-esque look. The films themselves also have nothing to do with the actual story of Annabelle are completely fictitious in nature. As such, they’re more or less Annabelle In Name Only.

Anyways, that’s the introduction to Annabelle herself. Now onto the story, which I’m citing from this article by nhregister. All credit goes to them.

Our story begins in 1970—close to half a century ago. A 28-year-old nurse, whose name I’m unable to find, was gifted a Raggedy Ann doll for her birthday by her mom. Almost immediately, strange things started happening that involved the doll, which she’d placed on her bed. Initially, it was small things, like the doll changing positions. Examples include a leg being crossed, the doll laying on its side, and I believe her arms being folded in a manner that was described as it being indignant it was left alone. No, that isn’t me trying to be funny, that’s how I once heard it described to me. However, the girl—along with her roommate—figured that someone was sneaking into the room and changing the doll’s position.

This theory of theirs was further amplified when they began to find parchment paper on the floor of the room. Written on it were messages like, “Help me, help us.” However, neither of them owned any parchment paper. As such, they figured that the intruder was leaving it there as a prank.

Things began to escalate very quickly though. It wasn’t long before the doll started to appear in different rooms, which the girls continued to chalk up to an intruder until it was found leaking blood. Not only that, but the fiance of one of the girls was once sleeping in a room when he awoke. When one of the girls asked him what was wrong, he stated that he had a nightmare that Annabelle attacking him and attempting to strangle him. In a fit of anger at the nightmare, he threw the doll across the room and said:

“It’s nothing more than a Raggedy Ann doll. It can’t hurt anybody.”

Not long after, the fiance awoke to see Annabelle staring at him. He also felt a burning sensation on his upper body and saw that he had a few deep scratches on his torso.

By that point, the girls realized that maybe it wasn’t an intruder. As such, they held a seance. It was during this that they learned the spirit in their place of residence was a 7-year-old girl named Annabelle Higgins. This spirit told them that she “felt comfort” with the two girls and “wanted to stay with them and be loved.”

Touched by the story of Annabelle, the girls gave the spirit permission to stay in the doll and live with them. This, naturally, was a severe mistake and things only continued to escalate from there with the doll becoming increasingly more and more aggressive with its behavior. Finally, after contacting a priest to help them, they were directed to Ed and Lorraine Warren. Upon being contacted, the Warrens stated that the doll was being manipulated by something demonic and that Annabelle Higgins wasn’t real.

This isn’t uncommon in many supposed demonic hauntings. The idea of a child spirit is often a mask for the real presence (in this case, a demon). It’s something of a lure to have the inhabitant of the house let their guard down before the demon either possesses the person or breaks them in both body and spirit. In this case, the Warrens stated that “Annabelle” wasn’t looking to remain attached to the Raggedy Ann doll but was instead looking to possess one of them (most think that it was going to possess the fiance).

Not desiring to keep a demon around the house, Annabelle was given to the Warrens to bring to their museum where she’d be both put on display and kept away from the public so she wouldn't be a menace anymore. In an attempt at freedom though, Annabelle did something… interesting. On their way back to their museum, the Warrens car began to veer to the left repeatedly, nearly sending them careening off of the road. Eventually, Ed pulled over and got out of the car, swung open the back door, and threw Holy Water onto Annabelle. After that, the vehicle stopped veering and the drive back to the museum went off without a hitch.

Ever since then, Annabelle has resided in a glass cabinet with a crucifix that hangs over her. There’s an outright warning on it too that states the doll isn’t to be trifled with (a warning that people have ignored from time to time).

With that, the story of the legendary Annabelle ends. Her legacy lives on in many different films and her own trilogy of movies, though her likeness isn’t utilized in those movies. For what reason, I don’t know. Perhaps porcelain is just creepier to some. What isn’t made of porcelain though are the two theories that are prevalent when discussing the truth to her story. So let’s dig into those!


1. The doll truly is possessed

The first theory is that Annabelle is as the Warrens claim her to be. The vessel for an extremely malevolent, powerful demon that wishes to do nothing more than cause immense suffering onto those around it. This theory relies more or less on one’s belief in the paranormal and demons. As such, those that believe in things like that generally gravitate towards believing in Annabelle, though the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

Annabelle herself nowadays is typically not out and about causing devastating harm to all of those who she sees in her field of view, but there are two instances where she’s said to have killed someone. The first comes from a man who entered the Warren’s museum decades ago. He walked up to Annabelle’s cabinet and banged on the glass window, repeatedly taunting her, saying things to the effect of:

“Come on, scratch me!”

“Scratch me! You can’t, because you’re a load of shit!”

“You stupid doll, do something! Curse me!”

Ed Warren, who was in the museum at the time, turned his head and looked at the man like he was performing a Hawiian dance with no clothing on. Eventually, both he and Lorraine asked the man to leave, to which he did. However, when he did, both the man and his girlfriend were involved in a motorcycling accident when the man lost control of his bike and slammed head-on into a tree. The man died, though the girl survived. When asked later what happened, the girl stated that the two were joking about Annabelle when her late boyfriend lost control. As such, it’s believed that Annabelle fulfilled the man’s request and decided to prove that she wasn’t merely some bit of folklore.

In another, very similar, case, it’s claimed that a little boy mocked Annabelle and was later hit by a school bus. Tragically, he died. This story I cannot verify and it may be a misinterpretation of the story from above.

The final two examples I can find of Annabelle reacting to the presence—or actions—of someone else come from this article. The first one is from a man who was supposedly slashed across the chest “several times” by Annabelle. For what reason, I’m unsure.

The second was an experience that PRS Director Ryan Buell had. According to him, he witnessed Annabelle nod at him when he visited the museum.

Annabelle has been the subject of other weird, creepy stories, but these are the ones I was capable of finding in the short time span I had to write this entry and are a few reasons as to why some believe her to really be inhabited by a powerful demon.

2. The entire thing is fake and the Warren’s knew it

This theory more or less posits that Ed and Lorraine Warren were both frauds and simply  played along with the supposed possession. Whether or not the doll is really inhabited by a demon is irrelevant as they just went along with the claim. This is the theory most—if not all—skeptics take when discussing Annabelle, let alone the Warrens in general.

Most evidence brought to the table for this theory is simple: the track record of the Warrens isn’t impeccable and many skeptics of both the paranormal and the idea of psychic mediums is one that’s very contested. Some believe them to be true while others see them as either loons or outright charlatans. In the case of the Warrens, it goes both ways—at least in my experience. As such, they just went along with the claims that Annabelle was some sort of really evil doll and went, “Ah yeah, uh, it’s evil. We’ll take it and be on our way; demon be gone!”

Well, that’s how I think it went anyways.

I digress. Those are the two theories that are predominantly cited. It’s as black and white as can be.

My Take:

Let me make one thing extremely clear: curses are something that I’m always highly skeptical of. I’m not someone who likes to tempt fate though. If you tell me something is cursed, I sure as hell am not going to take the object that’s curse, go near the cursed person, or laugh at it.

With that said, the story of Annabelle is a lot like the Mary Celeste. I don’t think it’s nonsense, I think there’s something very wrong with her. Call me superstitious, call me gullible, call me whatever you like. I don’t think the story of Annabelle is hogwash. I genuinely think there’s something evil inside of the doll.


I believe that skepticism is a healthy thing to have. To blindly believe that everything you hear and read is definitely not an ideal way to live your life. So I don’t blame anyone for being skeptical of Annabelle. Nowadays, if you wish to see the doll for yourself, it’s still on display at the Warren’s museum, though popular lore states that you must first ask Annabelle permission before you take her photo, then you must thank her. This is very similar in fashion to another haunted doll—Robert—though his reputation is much different in nature than that of his female counterpart.

For the eighth episode of the fifteenth season of the obscenely popular television show Ghost Adventures, host and fellow museum owner of things that shouldn’t be kept in any place Zak took Annabelle out of her cabinet and proceeded to do what he does best. He told her to be creepy and do creepy things, though his results weren’t as extreme as the man who supposedly died after invoking her wrath. This was presumably because she didn’t wish to toy with the powerhouse that is Zak Bagans, but I cannot confirm this.

As to why the Annabelle films didn’t take cues from the real life story (the first film supposedly plays out a lot like Rosemary’s Baby), I don’t know. I personally think the real life story, whether or not you believe it to be real, has a certain air of creepiness to it. It’s something that, on its own, is definitely weird in nature and not like your standard “demon is in my house and is scratching me and standing creepily in my hallway” story. Perhaps that’s just me though as I love paranormal stories.

What about you, dear reader? Do you think that Annabelle is really possessed? Or do you think she’s merely a horror figure who’s become larger-than-life?

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