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Dolls of the Devil (Pt. 1): Annabelle

A Closer Look into a Nightmare for All Ages (Part 1/3)

Annabelle at the Warrens' Occult Museum in Connecticut. 

Ah, Annabelle. Because dolls aren't scary enough already. 

I have to admit, Hollywood overdid it with the cracked, worn-out porcelain thing-that-is-supposed-to-be-for-children they used in The Conjuring and Annabelle movies. The real Annabelle doll is terrifying enough on her own, and has a history to match. 

In 1970, a woman purchased a new Raggedy Ann doll at a hobby store as a gift for her daughter, Donna. Donna was a college student in her late 20s at the time, and was living in an apartment with her friend, Angie, and Angie's fiancé, Lou. The two girls were studying nursing while Lou was staying with them, and none of them could have imagined what bringing in a Raggedy Ann doll would do to their lives. Within only a few days of the doll being in the apartment, strange occurrences began happening. 

It started with very subtle movements coming from the doll: the type of movement you notice out of the corner of your eye. Over the next few weeks, Annabelle's movements progressed and could eventually move from one room to another. Donna would find her on the couch when she had left her on her bed. There were times where the doll was discovered with her legs crossed and her arms folded, others where she was standing on her feet and leaning against a chair. Apparently, there was one instance where Annabelle was kneeling upright on a chair, which was strange on a whole other level because she could not kneel on her own without falling forward. 

Lou had hated the doll from the very beginning, and even warned Donna that it was something evil. Both Donna and Angie dismissed this as they didn't believe in such things. As time went on, Annabelle's activity continued to escalate and became more and more intense. Donna began to come home to find little pieces of parchment paper with written messages on them saying "Help us" or "Help Lou," all while knowing there was no parchment paper in the apartment. Approximately 4–6 weeks after Annabelle first arrived, Donna walked into her room and saw the doll on her bed with blood on her hands and chest. The blood, or whatever the red liquid was, seemed to be coming from the doll herself—dripping from the inside-out in a sort of way, although they could not find the source of the blood. 

At this point, Donna had contacted a medium to help. The medium performed a séance with Annabelle, and went on to tell the roommates that before their apartment building was built, there was an open field in its place. A seven-year-old girl by the name of Annabelle Higgins was found dead in that field. When Donna brought the doll home, Annabelle's ghost became attached to it, and also felt that Donna and Angie were trustworthy because they were nursing students. She wanted to use the doll as a way to stay with them, and out of sympathy, the girls agreed to let Annabelle stay. 

Shortly after they accepted the dead girl's request, activity seemed to hit the fan. Lou had an experience where he woke up in the night to find Annabelle at his feet, and watched as she crawled up his leg to his chest where she began to strangle him with her fabric hands. Lou had lost consciousness, and when he woke up the next morning, he was certain that experience wasn't a dream. Only a few days later, Donna, Angie, and Lou were in the living room when they heard loud movement coming from Donna's room. Lou hesitantly opened the door and discovered the room untouched, except Annabelle was off the bed and sitting in a corner. Lou went to approach the doll, but as he was getting closer, he felt a sudden intense feeling of being watched and quickly turned around. There was no one else in the room, but when he turned back around, he crippled over from a burning pain coming from his chest. He looked down and saw rows of deep, claw-like scratches that looked different than any other wound he had seen before. The weirdest part was how fast those scratches healed; they were completely gone within two days. 

An Episcopalian priest named Father Hegan was called over to the apartment, who then contacted a superior named Father Cooke after investigating their home. Father Cooke took the case further and contacted world-famous paranormal investigators and demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren. This was approximately one year after Donna was first given the doll.

The Warrens agreed to come and investigate, and Lorraine's clairvoyant abilities quickly discovered that the entity attached to the doll was no ghost but a demon: an in-human spirit. She explained to the girls that demons do not possess things, they possess people, and the demon used the doll to give the impression of a haunting while it's true goal was to possess Donna. The doll was used as a shell or a sort of temporary housing until the demon could get what it really wanted, and everyone in the apartment was at risk of danger. 

Father Cooke performed an exorcism on the apartment, and the Warrens' took possession of Annabelle at Donna's request. On the drive home, they stayed off the highways and major roads in fear of the demon messing with their car. Sure enough, the engine kept cutting out, the power steering kept failing and even the brakes were giving them trouble. Ed stopped to sprinkle holy water on the doll, and the disturbances stopped temporarily. 

The Warrens' brought Annabelle home, and Ed had kept her on his desk at first. She went back to her old tricks, like changing positions and moving from one room to the next, and was even found levitating a few times. They called in a priest to exorcise the doll, but the priest did not take it seriously and claimed the doll could not hurt anyone. On his drive home, his brakes failed and he was involved in a horrific accident, totaling his car but luckily sparing his life. 

Ed built a locked case for Annabelle, sealed and protected with rituals and prayers, where she still resides to this day in the Warrens' Occult Museum in Connecticut. The locked case seems to keep Annabelle's disturbances at bay for the most part, but according to Ed in a video tour of the museum, Annabelle was responsible for one death. A young man and his girlfriend had arrived on a motorcycle to the museum for a tour. Once inside, the man continuously mocked the doll by tapping on the glass and challenging her to scratch him like she did to Lou. Ed kicked the man out, and no more than three hours later he died in a motorcycle accident. His girlfriend survived, but spent over a year in the hospital. There have been no other reports of Annabelle harming or killing anyone else since then, and the case containing her will most likely be locked forever. 

Annabelle and lots of other abnormal artifacts can still be visited in person at the Warren's Occult Museum in Connecticut by booking private tours through their website. 

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Dolls of the Devil (Pt. 1): Annabelle
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