Robert the Haunted Doll: Florida's Scariest Toy is More than a Plaything

Robert the Haunted Doll: Florida’s Scariest Toy is More than a Plaything

robert the haunted doll
Honestly, I think one of the most terrifying images I’ve ever seen in a horror movie is that scene in “Poltergeist” where the evil Clown Doll reaches up and pulls the little boy under the bed. Until that moment, I’d never put much stock in those “Can’t Sleep. Clowns will eat me!” T-shirts, but that movie certainly opened my eyes to the fact that evil lurks in some of the last places we’d ever expect to find it.

Some might say I have a vivid imagination, but on more than one occasion I’ve walked into a roomful of colorful, harmless looking toys and felt their beady little eyes boring staring at me. Even perfectly ordinary plastic fire engines or dump trucks can send shivers down my spine. What if their headlights were to suddenly flash on? What if the siren started blaring? What if all the toys in the room suddenly decided to attack?!

But it’s dolls that bother me most and I think it’s because you can never be sure if that was a movement you just saw out of the corner of your eye. Did that doll just turn her head a little? Did she wink, or blink? Did she wiggle her foot? Wasn’t her hand resting on her knee a moment ago? Bah! That’s impossible. It’s only a doll. Or is it?

You can do an Internet search and find hundreds of haunted dolls, most of them fake and available for sale on Ebay. But over the last few years I’ve tripped over two that have been the subject of official and expert paranormal investigations and found to be truly creepy little dolls. Today I’d like to introduce you to Robert the Haunted Doll, from Key West, Florida.

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florida's creepy robert the haunted doll

In 1906, a young boy named Eugene Ott received Robert as a gift from one of the household servants. Eugene’s first name was actually Robert, but he went by his middle name, Eugene. At the time, no one thought to question Robert’s origins but later, after strange things started happening, the following theory arose:

Eugene Otts parents were strict with Eugene and very stern taskmasters with their servants. It’s said that they treated their servants very poorly – low wages, long hours of exhausting physical labor, as well as a little physical abuse thrown in from time to time.

One of these servants was a Bahamian woman who, some say, practiced Voodoo, and it was she who gifted Eugene with Robert the Doll. It’s said that she cursed the doll before giving it to the boy. Some folks claim she stuffed the doll with rags that had been mixed with human blood, and some say the doll has real human hair.

As the story goes, young Eugene quickly became attached to Robert and took the doll with him every where he went. He would ‘feed’ Robert at the dinner table and sleep with him at night, and on more than one occasion, Mr. and Mrs. Ott could hear Eugene conversing with someone who had a low, sinister-sounding voice when they passed by his room. But of course, they assumed Eugene was just “playing” with Robert.

It wasn’t long before strange things began to happen outside the playroom, too. Lamps would fall and shatter, for no apparent reason. Silverware and drinking glasses would go flying off the dinner table. Torn clothing and rumpled beds were found in rooms that weren’t being used.

Each time something strange happened, Mr. & Mrs. Ott would turn to Eugene for an explanation and Eugene always said, “It wasn’t me! It was Robert!” And each time, Eugene was strongly disciplined by his stern parents.

robert the doll caught moving

Over the years, Eugene and Robert continued to get closer and closer, and after Mr. & Mrs. Ott died, Robert and Eugene were alone in the home.

Servants came and went due to the unholy atmosphere in the home. They’d hear giggling when no one was in the room – except Robert, of course. They’d hear strange voices and footsteps, and combined with all the other mysterious activity, Eugene was hard pressed to keep servants around.

Eventually, Eugene decided it was time to get married, but it wasn’t long before his new wife became frightened, not only of Eugene’s obsessive attachment to Robert, but by the mysterious things that kept happening, too.

The new Mrs. Ott could sense the evil in Robert. She often saw his expression change from one of innocence to one of pure malevolence and she sense a threat to her life whenever she was alone in the room with the doll. Terrified, she told Eugene that if he wanted to keep the doll he’d have to keep him up in the attic and away from the rest of the house.

After relegating Robert to the attic, the neighborhood children and passersby began to notice movement as they walked by the house. Robert would follow from one end of the attic to the other, maniacally giggling, watching as people passed by, growing angrier and angrier by the day at his confinement.

With Robert locked away in the attic, Eugene’s health began to suffer. Soon, he defied his wife and set Robert up in his own comfortable bedroom in the main house again. Alas, Eugene’s health continued to deteriorate and when he died in 1974, his wife was left alone in the house with Robert.

But not for long. Mrs. Ott, free at last, stashed Robert back in the attack and quickly sold the house, leaving Robert for the new owners to contend with.

When the new owners were investigating the attic their 10-year old daughter discovered Robert, sitting in a little chair, hidden under a blanket. The little girl fell in love with Robert, moved him into her bedroom and, you guessed it, that’s when Robert really stepped up his plan.

The girl began screaming in the night, terrified, claiming that Robert was moving all around her bedroom and the he even attacked her on several occasions, trying to kill her. The girls’ parents quickly removed Robert from the house and knowing a little about his history by then, they donated him to the East Martello Museum in Key West.

But our story doesn’t end there. Robert is kept in a locked, glass case in the center of the room. Museum workers report seeing him move his hand or his foot and he frequently changes position during the night, while no one is in the museum. Workers who remain in the building after hours hear strange noises and giggling.

For two weeks every year Robert is moved from the museum and put on display at the Custom House in Key West and while he’s away from the museum the paranormal activity actually increases.

While he might be enclosed in a glass case, Robert still manages to go about his evil ways. Visitors who take pictures of Robert, without first asking his permission, report a wide variety of results.

Some have just blank film, with no picture at all. Other see Robert in one position in the picture, but it’s not the position he’s posed in in the case. Some see an evil expression on his face, or his eyes are half-closed, his head is turned, or his foot seems to have moved because it’s blurry in the picture.

Worse, though, is what happens after they leave the museum, as evidenced by all the letters posted on the walls surrounding Robert. Visitors who neglected to ask his permission and snapped their pictures anyway, or people who laugh at Robert and don’t take his evil seriously, meet with horrible luck ranging from flat tires, to serious injuries, and even to death. Many of the letters you see are people begging Robert’s forgiveness for not asking his permission before they took his picture.

The picture you see posted here was taken for me personally. One of my cousins moved to Key West, Florida about a year ago and I asked her to stop in the museum and take a picture of Robert for me. I warned her, though, to respectfully ask his permission before she started snapping away.

Thankfully, she followed my advice and neither she nor I have had any problems, and I even use this picture as the screensaver on my computer. But you can bet your boots I’d never enter a room with the real Robert the Haunted Doll. One giggle from that malevolent little creature is all it would take and I’d be out the door in a heart beat.

Can’t travel all the way to Florida to see a haunted doll? View the schedule for The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult, the world’s only mobile museum full of haunted objects, and let the creepy dolls come to you!


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Donna Anderson
Donna Anderson is a freelance journalist living in Columbus, Ohio who believes that something really is out there, you really can't trust anyone, and sometimes, mysterious “things” really do go bump in the night. A long-time fan of Coast to Coast AM she previously covered some of the more exciting and weird topics in her column at Examiner.com. and she currently writes for Alex Jones and Infowars.com. Too lazy to maintain her own blog and looking for a more open-minded audience platform, she approached the gang at Who Forted?, who graciously agreed to let her talk about whatever she wants – as long as she avoids the topic of leprechauns.
Donna Anderson

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The artist’s name was Robert Eugene Otto, (1900-1974) not Ott. Not trying to be rude, I just thought you might the right information. He was most famous for his haunted doll Robert, but was also quite a well renowned artist whose home is now one of the most photographed in Key West. His wife was also an artist, (musician), you can check out their work pretty easily online.

Kwin The Eskimo

I saw Robert years ago on one of my many forays to Key West. I had all but forgotten about the little guy. This is a fascinating tale and one that was due to be shared. Awesome!

Haunted dolls? There’s one in Japan (Manne-ji Temple, Iwamizawa, Hokkaido Prefecture) which is supposedly “haunted” because the clerics at the temple say it grows its hair. Needless to say pilgrims and curiosity seekers flood the temple to see Okiku (as the doll is named) themselves. The doll was originally purchased by one Suzuki Eikichi for his sister, Okiku around 1918. After the girl died of illness, it was kept in the family as a memento until 1938. When Suzuki-san was recalled in the army to be sent abroad, he gave the dolls with other family heirlooms to the Manne-ji temple… Read more »

That’s cool. It’s not like I wanted to sleep tonight :/. That thing should be exorcized and burned.

Greg Newkirk

No way! The last thing I’d want to do is destroy the body and turn the doll into an ACTUAL ghost! At least this way you can trap him in a glass case!

Well, not if you do it right.

why should he be burnt?! he is a living entity w/ feelings, asshole :/

A living thing that will kill you and have no remorse or respect for you or eny thing that it will kill so is he a asshole

As anyone left a film and some triggers objects? Perhaps we’re dealing with a soul that needs help. If I were there.. I think I’d ask permission from Robert before I did anything..and I’d make sure I thanked him afterwards.

So what’s with the creepy ghost like face off to the right of the doll (in front of the pictures on the wall)? it is looking to our right, but there is definitely an angry “face” there. I just don’t know if it is camera glare or what but that doesn’t look like there is any glass for a glare to be at.

Donna, Joshua P. Warren’s report is at the Coast to Coast website, including audio interviews and photos. I hope that helps! So you can find it there. I do have a serious question though. If there actually is credibility to any of the reports on Robert, then Robert the doll is actually a thinking being able to make his own decisions, correct? Well, how do we know he grants permission to every person that asks to take his photo? Surely, a thinking being would say “no” to some that wanted to take his photo. It would be rather arrogant of… Read more »

When you request permission to take a picture, should there be some kind of acknowledgement, by Robert, for a picture to be taken? Otherwise it is merely an act out of respect and to honor Robert to take a picture, now it is really creepy.

I heard about Robert from that show on TV called “Mysteries at the Museum”. Seems very very creepy all the history involving this doll thats for sure. But it could also be one of those things where if its really true, yikes of course!! But if its all a hoax it doesn’t really matter for the museum where Robert stays, because it reaps all the benefits from the visitors who pile in for a good scare! I guess nobody will ever know one way or another about creepy Robert unless he decides to have a little chit chat with a… Read more »

Hmm, if Robert were as evil as he’s made out to be, I don’t think it would matter if you asked permission or not. Evil is as evil does and I don’t even know what that means.

IMO, there’s a bit of mass hysteria going on here and the more drawn in you are, the more likely you are to see Robert move or attribute bad luck to him.

It is quite a freaky tale though. Strangely enough, I’ve been to Key West many times and have never heard of Robert till now.

Good find Donna!

Scott McMan
Ghosttheory.com

If these two photos of “Robert” on this page are from the same photo shoot at the museum; notice the little pin on his hat, in one pic it is off to the side, the next pic it is centered on his forehead. ?!?!

The lion stuffed animal he’s holding is also in a different position from the first picture. You can tell by the distance difference between the stuffed animals head and Roberts lapel.

your are getting very scary with robert the doll.

When I was 11 years old, my parents took me on a ghost night
tour. The tour visited Robert at night. While the tour was leaving, I decided to get to the back of the line to observe Robert. As I was looking at him, in noticed his expression turn evil. After I saw that, I bolted out of those doors. Thank you for letting me finally tell my story.

dont know about you guys but i ain’t ever going to see robert in person

What if Robert likes cheetos, who will buy him a bag.

Bah, you believe in that piece of rugged shit? Ill just annihilate that piece of rug and throw him straight to abzzawyss.

IMPORTANT: “can’t sleep, clowns’ll eat me” isn’t just some random shirt, it’s a quote from the episode of The Simpsons where Lisa is born and Homer builds Bart a clown bed that has been appropriated to a shirt.

Hello I never visited Robert but I was wondering if I visit him and just talk to him like little stories or a little convo with him would he do anything bad to me? I am also a very kind respectful person so do you think he’d let me take his picture?

HAS ANY1 EVA TOOK HIS PHOTO WITHOUT EVEN ASKIN HIS PERMISSION & FACED ANY DIFFICULTY OR FELT THE THEY’VE BEEN FOLLOWED OR IS THE DOLL REALLY ALIVE & ACTIVE OR IS IT JUST THE MYTH OR URBAN LEGEND ??? CUZ THERE ISN’T ANY GRAPHICAL TRUTH THAT THE DOLL IS STILL ACTIVE Y HAVEN’T ANYBODY OR ANY PARANORMAL INVESTIGATOR OR THE LADY THAT IS THE GUARDIAN OF THE MUSEUM EVER TRIED 2 CAPTURE ANY THIN OR TRIED 2 SETUP THE CAM 2 CAPTURE ANY THIN 4 THE REAL PROOF THAT THE DOLL IS ALIVE ??? CUZ THERE’S NO VIDEO FOR THE… Read more »

I want to say better safe than sorry, but then why respect evil… Would you be scared of a 5 year old? He is a doll for petes sake

So sorry robert for looking at your photo and video so sorry

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