With their uncanny, creepy little faces and dead eyes, it is perhaps no wonder that dolls have long inspired unease and creepy tales. For just hunks of porcelain, ceramics, or plastic, they have managed to disturb us on an almost primal level for centuries, and for equally as long they have gathered numerous stories and legends of supernatural forces inhabiting them, some of which I have written of here before. Haunted dolls seems to be a dime a dozen, and can even be found on sale, but for all of the strange phenomena surrounding these creations, surely the most frightening of all are dolls that are not only haunted, but also the residences of hateful, violent forces that seek to harm or destroy us. Long the in the realm of dark fairy tales and horror films, there have been many real cases of malicious haunted dolls, and they are the spookiest of all.
One of the oldest and often considered to be the most haunted and evil dolls of all was stumbled upon by chance in the 1970s in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia, by a man named Kerry Walton. At the time he had been picking through the empty ruins of an abandoned house on the street he had grew up on, where he found the strange wooden, glass-eyed marionette doll stashed under some dust frosted floorboards, as if someone had hidden it away there, or locked it in to keep it from getting out. Dislodging the old doll from its resting place, Walton turned it over in his hands and felt his heart lurch a bit when he was confronted with its rather nightmarish looking, frightening face, of which he would say, "I wasn't quite sure what it was, it was terrifying seeing that face in the dark. He makes Chucky look like a Sunday school student."
Despite the unsettling and eerie effect of its dead gaze and horrifying visage, Kerry decided to keep the freakish little doll, as he believed it to be quite old and possibly valuable. He tossed it into the trunk of his car and began his drive home and that was when the first of many supernatural phenomena would occur. Kerry claims that as he drove along he could hear something thumping about back in the trunk, as if there were someone in there trying to get out. Even more startling still was when he says he could distinctively hear a voice howl, “Letta me out!” which was enough for Kerry to pull over and see what was going on in the trunk. However, when he opened it up there was just that doll, crumpled up in the dark, motionless, and still with that glazed over, lifeless stare into nothing. Nothing seemed out of place except for that grim face looking on into oblivion.
At this point quite spooked, Kerry nevertheless brought the creepy doll home, and the weirdness would only continue from there. The following evening his two children allegedly began screaming uncontrollably in the middle of the night, and when he rushed to see what had happened they claimed that the doll, which Kerry had dubbed “Letta,” had been heard mumbling and talking to itself, and that it had also moved its arm and head. In the following days other people who saw the doll purportedly saw it move as well, and it generally gave off an inexplicable feeling of thick dread that seemed to cloak it like a cloud that purportedly made people feel nauseous, dizzy, or overcome with an inexplicable panic in its presence. Everyone in the home also experienced some of the worst and most vivid nightmares they had ever had.
In addition, its facial expression would allegedly subtly change each day, and dogs were found to show an unnatural aggressiveness towards Letta, barking at it and even trying to maul it, of which Kerry has said, “Dogs absolutely hate him, they try to attack him and bite him whenever he is around.” Intrigued by all of this, Kerry apparently had the doll examined by an expert and was told that it was likely around 200 years old and fashioned by Eastern European gypsies using real human hair. Psychics who looked at Letta were convinced it was possessed by a restless spirit.
Word got out about the haunted Letta doll, and it appeared in numerous news stories, as well as on TV shows, where one cameraman even claimed to have seen it turn its head to look at him. In recent years, Kerry has on one occasion gone about trying to sell Letta, but he says he was strongly compelled by some nagging presence at the back of his mind not to go through with it. He would say of this strange power:
We were really desperate for cash at the time so I drove him to a woman's home who was going to buy him for $400. I physically couldn't get him out of the car. I can't explain it, it was some sort of force stopping me. These days I wouldn't sell him for a million dollars but to be honest I don't think I physically can.
Letta, which has also come to be known by the macabre nickname “The Doll from Hell,” is still in Kerry’s possession today, and is one of the more notorious haunted dolls out there. It is interesting to note the negative physical effects experienced in this doll’s presence, as if some presence is lashing out at those around it, and there are other “cursed” dolls out there with similar ill-effects on those who would look upon them or get too close. At the Museum of Shadows, in Nebraska, in the United States, resides one such doll that is called “Ayda” by the museums owners, Nate and Kaleigh Raterman.
The doll itself was apparently first crafted in 1889 in Germany, and over the decades was passed down until it ended up in the hands of a family that claimed it to be deeply haunted, moving about the house on its own and sometimes chuckling to itself. They allegedly tried to throw it away in a landfill, but that several days later it had been found sitting upon their porch much to their shocked surprise, dirtied and now missing its eyes. Once more they tied the doll up in a trash bag and threw it away again, but still it inexplicably showed up at their doorstep. Knowing of Nate and Kaleigh’s museum of cursed and haunted items, they donated it to the museum, where it has supposedly not stopped with its weird phenomena. Even as it was being driven to its new home a strange incident occurred, which Nate said of thus:
We started our drive towards the private quarantine area l when we heard this deep whisper come from the back of the SUV saying, ‘I want out’ followed by a child crying.
Even after being transferred to the museum the doll was often found in random places, even when placed within secure boxes. More insidious are the physical effects Ayda is said to inflict on those who stand too close, causing migraine headaches, dizziness, lethargy, and stomachaches, to the point that the owners have taken to wearing hazmat suits whenever handling it. Nate has explained that even this does little good, saying:
When I had to move her I had to wear a hazmat suit and still felt the power from her. I like to call it the paranormal hangover because she made me feel all sick and the worst migraine ever. So she is now in her permanent box and locked in and the keys are off location to protect from the chance of her ever getting out.
Anyone curious about Ayda can see her for themselves at the Museum of Shadows, in Plattsmouth Nebraska, where she remains locked up and occasionally exhibited. Other dolls can apparently harm you just by looking at them as well. One Russian doll was according to lore made in 1730 by a mistress of the Tsar who gave birth to a deformed baby which she then had burned. The ashes of this doomed child were them allegedly mixed with porcelain and used to make a doll that was named Katja. The doll in question has long been rumored to carry a potent curse, and one of the most persistent of these tales is that if you stare at its face for over 20 seconds and it blinks then that person will be plagued by misfortune and disaster.
Some dolls do not even have to be in the same room with you to have some sort of sinister supernatural effect. One notorious haunted doll is called Peggy, which is owned by paranormal investigator Jayne Harris and is said to cause nausea, headaches, hallucinations, and even heart attacks. The thing is, it can supposedly have these effects even when simply watched over sites like YouTube. Scores of people who have watched the videos made of Peggy the doll have reported feeling all manner of unsettling symptoms, to the point that most can not even stand to make it to the end of the clips. Is this haunted dolls malevolent force somehow reaching out even through our computer screens to grab at us?
These cases so far are all disturbing and unsettling enough, but perhaps even more frightening are those in which the dolls in question have actually gotten up to physically attack their owners. One such doll was owned by a woman named Debbie Merrick, who bought it at a charity sale along with two others in 2017. She had them placed in their spare room, and not long after this increasingly intense supernatural activity began to happen in the house, culminating in what seemed to be actual attacks on Debbie’s husband. She would say of these strange occurrences:
The smoke alarms keep going off, and one night I heard the floorboards creaking and thought it might have been my daughter Holly up, but when I checked on her she was asleep. Then one morning my husband said to me, ‘I’ve got scratches all over my legs.’ It definitely hadn’t happened before. They looked a bit like cat scratches and were sore. My husband is a complete non-believer. He’s still trying to come up with an explanation. The scratches do look like they've been done by something small, like little doll hand scratches. Holly keeps telling people that the creepy doll scratched her Dad's leg. I've had a nightmare about a doll dragging itself along the floor towards me.
It seemed that only one of the newly purchased dolls seemed to be the culprit, one decked out in what looks like a wedding dress, and Debbie locked it in plastic box and put it away in a shed outside the home. However, this didn’t seem to stop whatever was going on, because when she later went to check on it it was found to be out of the box on the floor and its necklace had gone missing. This was enough to make her put the doll up for sale on eBay, and even then its paranormal power seemed to be conspiring against her. She would explain:
I took some pictures of it because I wanted to put it on eBay, then I left it. I even struggled to upload the pictures to eBay, it was really strange, that had never happened before. I don't want to go back into the shed now. I won't touch it again, it can get picked up if it's bought, and if we need to post it my husband can package it up. Some people on social media have told me it has something in it, some said it doesn’t. It's really just the one doll with the white dress I don't like. I didn't particularly even like touching that one when I bought it. The other two I don't mind as much.
Unbelievably, someone actually did buy the doll, a man named Lee Steer, who began to be haunted by the doll himself not long after bringing it and whatever it attached to it home. Since purchasing the haunted doll Steer has claimed that there have been things mysteriously broken around the house, strange noises that no one can explain, and most disturbing of all Lee’s father waking up one evening with tiny scratches all over his arms that were very similar to those incurred by Debbie’s husband, and just as unexplainable. Curious, Lee claims to have tried to communicate with the spirit in the doll using a “random words app,” which basically mixes words together but has been said to be able to be used as a sort of modern version of a Ouija board to talk with spirits. Lee would say of this odd experiment:
I’ve used a random words app that some people believe spirits can manipulate, and when I’ve asked it it’s name it’s said ‘Samantha’. When I said I really wanted to piss it off, it said, ‘Strike Lee’. If it’s random words, then it shouldn’t be making sense.
Another very violent doll allegedly bought on eBay by a woman in Galveston, Texas, and was an ugly thing fashioned from string and cloth and claimed to be an authentic Voodoo doll from New Orleans. The doll was apparently so intensely cursed that the woman was given strict instructions to never remove it from the silver casing it arrived in. Of course the woman immediately removed the doll from the case, after which it was claimed to move on its own, physically attack its new owner, and relentlessly terrorize her in her nightmares. When the woman tried to sell the evil doll, the story goes that whoever ordered it would receive an empty box and the doll would inexplicably reappear at its terrified owner’s house. The doll currently supposedly belongs to a paranormal investigator who plans to study it.
In 2015 there was a terrifying case of Ashley Nicole-Fine, 24, from Leeds, Alabama, who purchased two dolls to add to her extensive dolls collection. The difference with these is that that she has claimed they are possessed by the vengeful spirits of women who were murdered by their boyfriends. These unfortunate murders then twisted their minds even in death sot that they have come to hate all men. This has proven to be a problem for Ashley’s own boyfriend, Phillip Baston, 25, as apparently the dolls don’t like him either.
According to Phillip, he has been attacked in his sleep by the creepy dolls on several occasions, waking up with scratches and bruises on his body. He then ordered Debbie to have them removed from the bedroom, which she did. One of the dolls is named Violet, and is supposedly haunted by the spirit of a women who died in the 1500s. It is apparently very mobile, often disappearing from its resting place to turn up in different locations around the house, and is known to start the music box attached to her as well. The dolls in question have since been locked into their own special room, possibly plotting amongst themselves, waiting for their chance to attack their next victim.
Haunted dolls are one things, but are there those out there that go beyond this to be truly evil, and capable of inflicting harm? Here we have seen these possessed dolls that take things a bit further than things that go bump in the night, and which seem by all accounts to harbor powerful, wicked forces that have the potential to do great harm. Is there anything to this all or is it all just spooky urban legend? Whatever the case may be, dolls are certainly scary enough, and certainly seem to be suited to such dark tales indeed.