We all had imaginary friends, favorite toys or a special doll growing up. The Otto’s son Robert was no different except his doll came from a Haitian servant versed in the art of Voodoo. This doll became Robert the haunted doll now on display at the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West, Florida.
The Otto’s were a wealthy family with many servants but records show they were sometimes abusive to them. A Haitian servant was hired to take care of their young son Robert Eugene Otto. The story goes Mrs. Otto caught this Haitian servant practicing her magic in the back yard one day and fired her. Before she left she gave Robert a straw filled three foot tall doll, button for eyes and though popularly spread rumor of having real hair, had a material resembling wool yarn as hair.
Just like any child, Robert was thrilled to have a playmate and took the doll everywhere. He named it after himself, calling it Robert and even dressed it in his clothes. Robert the doll went everywhere, to go shopping, the dinner table and even to bed. One day, Robert informed his family he would now be called by his middle name Eugene (Gene) because Robert was the dolls name. This is when things started to get strange.
From that point on Gene would be overheard having entire conversations with Robert the doll. His mother would hear Gene’s young voice followed by a much lower voice with responses. Then Gene started displaying a different demeanor and often became agitated. Several times Mrs. Otto would come into Gene’s room only to find him trembling in a corner with Robert atop a chair looking at him.
Activity only escalated as objects would be found seemingly thrown across the room, toys would be found totally destroyed and giggling sounds would come from the room when no one was in there. Gene would get punished but each time claim Robert did it. Robert the haunted doll had seemingly come to life. More paranormal activity followed until a relative suggested putting Robert the doll in a box and store him in the attic.
Everything was fine after that until Gene’s father died and Gene inherited the house. He moved in the house and got married becoming the famous artist Eugene Otto. Eugene found Robert in the attic one day and brought him down. He would do is artwork secluded away with Robert the doll by his side. Again he would have full conversations with the doll.
Eugene’s wife hated the doll and eventually even though against Eugene’s will, moved Robert back to the attic. Over several years Eugene would repeatedly tell his wife how angry Robert was in the attic. Eugene finally won out over his protesting spouse and moved Robert the doll into the guest room on the third floor. Kids passing by the house would claim seeing Robert staring at them and dancing around the room in front of the window.
Eugene became ill in 1970 and stayed in the guess room, secluded with Robert till he died in 1972. The house was sold but Robert the doll remained behind in the attic. Another family bought the home and found Robert the doll in the attic. The parents knew immediately that the doll was not to their liking but the ten year old daughter took to the doll and put it in her collection. He was not long before she started claiming that Robert was running and jumping around her room at night scaring her.
This time the parents took action and took the haunted doll to the Key West Florida Martello Museum where it is displayed
to this day. So what is the truth? Is Robert the doll, Robert the haunted doll? Who really can tell? You can keep up with Robert at the Robert the Doll website. You can also possibly see for yourself by visiting Fort East Martello Museum or even staying in the Artist House.