Thursday, May 21, 2015

Haunted Doll: Robert

The story that surrounds this doll is scary. Multiple witnesses have stated Robert can move about on his own, change expressions and eerily giggle.

So is any of this true? Witness reports about this doll’s behavior appear to be authentic--even though in some cases, it is exaggerated.

This large doll that eventually would be named after its owner is a one-of-a-kind handcrafted piece made at the turn of the 20th century. It is stuffed with wood wool known as excelsior. Robert wears a sailor suit and at one time had a painted face similar to a jester.

Robert (Gene) Eugene Otto
A disgruntled servant--who supposedly practiced voodoo--gave Robert Eugene Otto this doll in 1906. As a boy, Gene considered Robert as his best friend.

It wasn’t long after the doll was in the Otto mansion in Key West, Florida before strange things began to occur. 

Neighbors reported seeing this doll move from one window to another in the turret room. Other neighbors claimed they heard the doll giggle maniacally.

Guests that visited the home told the family they saw the doll blink and even change expression.

Strange stories about the doll became commonplace.

Otto Mansion in Key West
One night the family awoke to Gene’s screams. They rushed to his room to find it in disarray. Most of the rooms’ furniture was strewn about. Gene pointed to the doll and shouted, “He did it!”

After this, whenever Gene was caught misbehaving, he would accuse Robert. Since many have speculated that the doll absorbed all of Gene’s emotional turmoil as he grew up.

An exaggerated account states that Gene’s other toys were often found mutilated.

Despite these odd occurrences Gene kept the doll until his death in 1974. Myrtle Reuter purchased the home after Gene’s death. The doll was kept in the attic.

Several tenants that lived in the home during this time reported hearing footsteps on the floor above them. One plumber that was called in stated he heard giggling and turned to find Robert had moved across the room.

A Solares Hill newspaper reporter, Malcolm Ross visited the home.

“. . . At first, when we walked through the attic door, the look on his face was like a little boy being punished. It was if he was asking himself, who are these people in my room, and what are they going to do to me?”

As the small group talked about the doll’s back story, Malcolm noticed that Robert’s expression changed--it was as if he was following our conversation.

One of the group mentioned that Gene Otto must have been an old fool at which point the doll’s expression changed to disdain.

“There was some kind of intelligence there. The doll was listening to us.”

After owning the doll and the Otto mansion for 6 years, Myrtle Reuter moved. She donated Robert to the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West, Florida. She told the staff the doll walked around her house on its own and was haunted.

Another exaggerated account states a ten-year-old girl owned Robert after Gene’s death. She supposedly said 30 years later she was convinced the doll was alive and was going to kill her.

Robert remains active. After his arrival at the museum staff noticed a different more intense energy in the building.

Once Robert was placed on display visitors knowing the doll’s history flocked to this museum to see him.

In display case with
letters in background
begging for forgiveness.

Others unaware of his reputation were shocked to see if they treated him with disrespect that their camera’s and electronic devises malfunctioned while near the doll’s display case.

When this happens, the museum staff receive letters from former visitors that apologized for their disrespectful behavior and ask for forgiveness. These letters continue to arrive regularly.

Ghost hunters and psychics wonder what causes the strange activity.

Is Robert the result of a voodoo curse? Is he the product of all the evil energy once placed upon him?

Another expression
In contrast, could he be just a misunderstood playful spirit.

Some wonder if the spirit of Gene, his life-long companion, might be with him still.

Despite all this speculation the activity that surrounds this doll remains a mystery.

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