Key West Florida 1897, The wealthy Otto family moved into their large plantation home, it is said the Otto's were particularly cruel to their servants and dealt out unjust punishments upon them for no good reason.
The Otto's welcomed their first born child Gene in 1906. the Otto's had a number of servant girls and gave one the distinction of being the Nanny of their young son.
The young girl, it is said, was well versed in Voodoo, and upon Genes 6th birthday presented him with a new doll. Gene loved his new friend and named him Robert.
Robert went everywhere Gene went, the two were inseparable. As time passed the family noticed the Otto's noticed their sons' fascination with the doll was becoming all-consuming. It wasn’t long before they noticed some unusual goings on with the doll. Whilst listening to their son play, they heard him asking questions, and heard answers from an unknown voice, when the Father entered the room he saw no-one present. He asked Gene who had been in his room answering him, Gene would only
Gene began to suffer terrible nightmares and would wake the house with his scream of terror in the night, when the Father would run into the room he would find all of Gene's furniture overturned and Gene in his bed trembling with fear. Robert would be sitting upright at the end of his bed, glaring at him.
Gene would shout “ Robert did it! Robert did it!”
Many years after Gene's Father died and Gene inherited the family home. He moved into the home with his wife Ann and used a room as his studio, as Gene was now a semi-famous artist. He would always have Robert with him in his studio, and paint, talking to the doll as if in deep conversation.
Ann grew to despise the doll and her husband's obsession with it, eventually she told her husband to put it in the attic, he did so, visiting Robert with regularity
Robert remained in the attic for a few years, during this time Gene would often state to Ann that Robert was terribly angry about his treatment. Gene wanted Robert to have his own room, one of the guest rooms that overlooked the street. Ann, not wanting to fight any more over the doll, gave in to Gene and allowed it.
Gene and Ann's relationships was slowly deteriorating, Gene would lash out at his wife, throwing objects at her and smashing furniture,his demeanour would change back to normal as quickly as it changed to menacing, and he would once again be the loving Gene he had been, offering an apology similar to the one his parents had once heard him utter “It was Robert, Ann. Robert did it!”
Ann began to question her husband's sanity.
In the early 1970s Gene became very ill, he would not allow his wife to aide him and instead locked himself in a room with the doll. Robert Eugene Otto died in the guest room of his house with his doll Robert, laying alongside him.
Ann sold the house and moved on, leaving Robert somewhat hidden in the attic.
A new family moved into the home, and in their efforts to clean the attic found the doll laying under a number of old boxes. The couples daughter took a shine to the doll and added it to her own porcelain doll collection.
It wasn’t long until Robert was up to his old tricks again. The family would be woken by the girl screaming in the bedroom, only to enter and find all her furniture strewn across the room.
She claimed the Robert had been running around the room jumping up and down breaking things. It is said to this day the then girl, now a 40 something year old woman, still claims what happened with the doll is truthful
The Family moved the doll on, it was donated to the Key West Florida Martello Museum.
Robert is now on display in the museum, he is said to still be active. Employees speak of Robert moving inside his display case, of his facial features changing and of bizarre goings on in the museum.
One of the most common stories regarding the doll is that of camera malfunctions in his presence, it appears, unless one asks Robert directly if they can take a photo of him, your camera will not work in his presence, this phenomena has been documented on numerous occasions.
Guards will often leave candy in Roberts presence as a way to bribe him into not causing any damage in the museum, often they return in the morning to find just the wrappers at his feet.
Rumour has it that Robert was put together by Gene's Nanny for revenge against her harsh treatment by the Otto Family. It is suggested she was well versed in voodoo and that she put a curse on the doll as she filled his insides with animal bones and evil relics.
One of the strangest things about Robert is he appears to be aging, his hair has turned white and he is starting to look old and worn, is it possible, that whatever lurks inside Roberts tiny body is also subject to the ravages of time?
Much has been documented about Robert The Doll, a quick google search will reveal a great number of eye witness testimony and letters written to the doll asking to have curses lifted, whether or not you choose to believe Robert is haunted and cursed is up to you, but the evidence is mounting!
© Allen Tiller - 2012
first published Dec 17 2012