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Robert the Doll is a legendary figure in folklore as well as paranormal investigation - believed by some to be a haunted doll with a demonic reputation.
The story begins in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Otto, the year 1896. It was well known that the Otto's mistreated their servants', and were not the kindest of people.
One particular servant, that aided in the care of the couples son was Robert Eugene (also known as Gene) was said to be versed in the ways of voodoo. As the story goes, the servant gave young Gene a doll. The doll stood three feet tall, and was stuffed with straw. The servant gave the doll life-like features, that at first were very endearing to young Gene.
Gene decided to name the doll Robert. The doll became a constant companion to the little boy. It is said that the Otto's often heard Gene upstairs talking to the doll. This in itself might not have been so bad. What unsettled and puzzled the Otto's was hearing their son answering himself in an entirely different voice than his own.
Many strange things began to occur in the Otto household. Frequently neighbors' claimed to see Robert move about from window to window, when the family was out of the house. Gene began to blame Robert for mishaps that would occur. The Otto's claimed to hear the doll giggle, and swear they caught glimpses of the doll running about the house.
Gene began to have nightmares and scream out in the night. When his parents would respond to Gene's cries, they often found furniture over turned, and their child in a fright. As a rule they would find Robert at the foot of their Son's Bed - with a glaring gaze on his face! With Gene shouting "Robert Did It....".
The doll was eventually put up in the attic, where he resided for many years.
When Gene's father died, and the Otto home was willed to Gene. Gene decided that he and his new wife would move into his childhood home. He had become an artist in his adult life, and felt the larger home would provide him and his wife a spacious place to live, plus the large Turret Room on the second floor would make a great studio for his painting.
After moving back to his boyhood home it wasn't long before Gene discovered Robert in the attic. He promptly moved him down to the turret room. Robert's hold on Gene was strong, and from the moment Gene again laid eye's on him, Robert's influence could be felt in the house. Gene's wife found Robert very odd and unsettling. One day while Gene was out of the house she decided she had enough of Robert's glare...and returned him to his attic sanctuary. When Gene returned home, and found that the doll had been moved, he was displeased. He declared that Robert needed a room of his own where he could see out of a window. He hurriedly returned Robert to the turret room. It wasn't long after that Gene's wife began to question her husbands sanity.
The citizens' of Key West began to spread rumors about Robert and his evil doings. Many people told stories of seeing and hearing Robert in the turret room as they walked by the home. They claimed that Robert would mock them as they passed. School children feared walking by the Otto home, in fear of Robert's mean glare from the window above.
Gene, himself reported when visiting the turret room on occasion he would find Robert in the rocking chair by the window rocking, and complaining of his displeasure with his accommodations.
Finally Gene himself had enough of Robert's antics, and put him back in the attic. Visitors to the Otto's home would often comment on hearing something walking back and forth in the attic, along with strange giggling sounds. Guests no longer wanted to visit the home.
Gene Otto died in 1972, and his wife sold the home promptly - leaving Robert behind in the attic.
A new family now lived in the home, and the stories of Robert died down.
Robert waited patiently up in the attic to be discovered once again. The ten year old daughter of the new owners was quick to find Robert in the attic, and added him to her other toys in her bedroom. It was not long before Robert unleashed his displeasure on the child... The little girl began screaming out in the night, claiming that the doll moved about the room, and would climb on her bed and attack her as she tried to sleep. Even after more than 30 years later, she steadfastly claims that "The doll was alive and wanted to kill her.".
Robert, still dressed in his white sailor suit and clutching his stuffed lion lives comfortably, though well guarded in Key West at the Martello Museum. Employees at the museum continue to give accounts of Robert being up to his old tricks still today.
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