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Almost Human: Three Real-Life Stories of Creepy Dolls

Cindy is an author and paranormal enthusiast who has published numerous books and articles on the subject of true unexplained phenomena.

Some dolls seem to have a hint of mischief behind their eyes.

Some dolls seem to have a hint of mischief behind their eyes.

A Persistent Hunger

This first account is a bit of a conundrum. It is undoubtedly strange, but whether it is paranormal in nature, simply bizarre, or perfectly innocent is up to the reader to decide.

A gentleman from Columbus, Ohio named Mark Brown* submitted this eerie little tidbit to me via social media. He was a teenager living with his mother when this spooky brush with the unexplained took place.

Mark grew up in a house like any other on a quiet residential street in the town of Lancaster. It was there that these events unfolded.

He recalls that their backyard was separated from their neighbor's by an invisible fence. The barrier was actually an underground electrical system with a mechanism attached to their dog's collar that would administer a mild shock if it tried to leave the perimeter of the yard. Mark's mother had installed the fence so that their mixed-breed pet could go in and out of the house without having to be walked on a leash.

The neighbor to the left of them was an elderly woman who lived by herself. Another younger woman, whom they assumed was her daughter, came and went regularly. They didn't really know her except to nod and say "Hi" when they saw her in the yard.

One evening, Mark let the dog out and was tinkering around on the patio when the normally docile animal suddenly began barking fiercely. Mark stopped what he was doing and went out into the yard to shush the dog who, at the time, was standing at the property line between their home and that of the elderly neighbor.

He yelled for the dog to be quiet as it ran back and forth in a frantic attempt to reach something in the adjoining yard. As the animal's agitation increased, Mark decided to bring it inside before the neighbor complained. When he approached the dog, he saw and heard the cause of its hysteria.

Lying on the neighbor's lawn was a doll. It wasn't a baby doll, but rather a large figure that people tend to collect rather than play with. He recalled that it had long, brown hair and wasn't wearing any clothes. Mark realized instantly why the dog had fixated on the discarded item; it was talking.

He listened as the doll repeated the same phrases over and over again: "I'm hungry. Feed me." He remembers being freaked out, not only by the words, but also by the way they were being said. The voice was deep and severe in tone, not exactly what one would expect to hear coming from a doll.

Mark grabbed his dog by the collar and led it into the house. Once they were safely indoors, he told his mother that she needed to go outside and take a look at the doll. Accustomed to his excitable nature, she hadn't taken him seriously when he described the disturbing presence. Nonetheless, she agreed to go see what the fuss was all about.

When they reached the fence line, the doll was still in the same spot, repeating its demands to no one in particular. At first glance, Mark's mother had laughed at the ridiculous scene. After all, it wasn't every day that one saw a strange, naked doll lying in the grass demanding to be fed.

Mark's curiosity got the better of him and he told his mom that he was going over to the neighbor's yard to get a closer look. She balked, telling him that he had no business on someone else's property. He pretended not to hear as he made his way to the doll.

When he was close enough to get a good look at the figure, he could see that it had soft plastic arms and a cloth body. It was still chattering away when he reached down and picked it up.

Mark looked for an on/off switch but couldn't find one. Neither was there a string or any other mechanism that could be used to control the doll. He squeezed the body and found that it was soft through and through. It was clear that there was no place for batteries or any other power source.

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The thing that bothered him the most about the doll was how hot it was to the touch. The weather was right down chilly, but the figure was as warm as toast. Mark was so put-off by the doll that he dropped it and ran back to his own yard.

Mother and son went inside, leaving the doll to its own devices. They could still hear its voice as they walked away. "I'm hungry. Feed me."

The following morning when Mark let the dog out, he noticed that the doll was gone. He reckoned the neighbor had retrieved it, which came as a relief. Nothing about it had been normal, and he hoped to never see it again.

A few days later, spying the elderly neighbor in her yard, Mark's mother had mustered up the nerve to ask her about the doll. The woman had seemed bewildered by the inquiry. She claimed that she didn't have any dolls and certainly hadn't found one on her property.

Mark's mother was a bit baffled. On the one hand, she knew that there was a doll; she had seen it with her own eyes. On the other, the woman had no reason to lie, it was her yard, and she was free to do as she pleased. It was, after all, only a doll.

Mark, nor his mother, ever saw or heard the doll again. They didn't know what they encountered that day on the neighbor's lawn, but Mark, for one, was convinced that it wasn't of this world.

He questioned why the doll repeated the same four words incessantly without ever saying anything else. Even more puzzling was how it accomplished such a feat. Mark was, and is, a tech geek who knows his way around electronics. Still, he could come up with no explanation for how the doll was being powered.

There may have been a perfectly sound reason for the doll's ability to function, but he couldn't find it. He also couldn't figure out why heat had emanated from the form. With more questions than answers, he decided to play it safe and steer clear of the neighbor's backyard. Some mysteries are better left alone.

*Names have been altered in order to protect the privacy of those involved.

A lonely woman in poor health develops an unusual bond with her doll collection.

A lonely woman in poor health develops an unusual bond with her doll collection.

The Collector

Midge Watkins* had spent most of her adult life collecting things, including watches, teddy bears, animal figurines, books, and the one item closest to her heart: dolls. Her daughter Karen graciously allowed me to share her mother's story. It recounts a bond so great that nothing could break it, not even death.

The Watkins family was originally from Portsmouth, Ohio, where Midge and her husband Richard raised their daughters in a big two-story house on the outskirts of town.

Once the girls were grown and living on their own, the couple sold the old homestead and moved into the tiny burg of Belpre. There, they bought a house that was just the right size for two people, a small dog, and Midge's collectibles, of which there were many.

Midge didn't get out much due to her ever-present health problems. She was an insulin-dependent diabetic who also suffered from congestive heart failure. Most of her days were spent reading and ordering goods from catalogs and home shopping channels. She would buy just about anything, but dolls were her obsession.

One room of the house was set aside specifically for these cherished figures. Midge had furnished it with an assortment of cribs and bassinets that held many of her 'babies.' Those she considered most precious were displayed in glass cases or posed on tabletops, poised to greet whoever should come to pay them a visit. The problem was, of course, that no one ever did.

Richard's job kept him on the road most of the time which meant that he was rarely home. The couple's daughters had careers and families of their own to tend to. They stopped by on occasion and spoke often on the phone, but Midge led a rather lonely life, except for the company of her dolls.

Karen had grown concerned about her mother's mental health when she began telling stories of how one doll or another would perform a feat that her daughter knew wasn't possible, such as dancing or singing.

In the beginning, she humored Midge and played along, thinking that it was harmless fun and nothing to be alarmed about. As time went by and the tales became more bizarre, she would have a change of heart.

Midge grew more and more distant from her family as the years passed, one into the next. Her health continued to decline, and calls to her daughters became less frequent as she retreated into her own world of solitude with only her dolls to keep her company.

Fearing that her mother was in a bad place, Karen began stopping by on a weekly basis to check on her and make sure everything was alright.

The visits were usually brief, consisting of some small talk and maybe a cup of coffee before the conversation would inevitably turn to something amusing that one of the dolls had said or done. They all had names, but Karen had long since lost track of who was who.

Midge would laugh as she spoke of how Missy had spun around so many times while showing off that she had gotten dizzy and collapsed in her arms. Or how Jenny had cried when she couldn't find ribbons that matched the dress she wanted to wear. The dolls sure did keep her busy, but she wouldn't have it any other way.

This went on each time Karen visited or spoke to her mom on the phone. Their conversations always centered on the dolls, which were becoming more and more animated, at least in her mother's mind. After hearing one too many accounts of how precocious the dolls were, Karen decided it was time for a heart-to-heart talk.

As gently as possible, she explained to her mother that the dolls were just porcelain or plastic. They weren't real. They couldn't talk or dance, and they didn't have feelings. She then braced herself for her mother's reaction.

Surprisingly, Midge didn't seem bothered in the least. She assured her youngest daughter that she realized the dolls were just that and nothing more. All the same, she liked to imagine them as real children.

Karen was relieved. She assumed that her mother was simply reverting back to her childhood. It seemed that the dolls' antics were born of loneliness and imagination rather than some deep-seated psychological disorder. If pretending they were living beings brought her mother joy in her remaining years, Karen didn't see any harm in letting her live the fantasy. Satisfied that the issue had been resolved, she never mentioned it again.

A few months after that conversation took place, Midge's body finally gave out. She passed away in the hospital after suffering two heart attacks on the same day. Her grieving family arranged for her remains to be transported to Portsmouth for burial. After taking some time to get used to the idea that Midge was gone, they set about clearing out the house in Belpre.

Richard and his wife had grown apart long before her death. He liked being on the road and had been building a life with someone else for several years, unbeknownst to his family. After Midge's passing, he packed up his belongings and moved on, leaving his daughters behind to sort through their mother's multitude of collectibles.

The rooms were filled to capacity with boxes and bags of things that Midge had ordered over the years, some of which had never been opened. There were drawers brimming over with jewelry that she had never worn. The dressers were covered with more perfume bottles than any one person could ever use. It was obvious to her daughters that their mother had loved to buy things, whether she needed them or not.

Karen saved the dolls' room for last. She knew how much they had meant to her mother and hated to get rid of them, but it had to be done. She and her sister were amazed at how meticulous Midge had been in caring for the dolls, even as her own health was failing. Each one was neatly dressed, their hair just so. There was not a speck of dust to be found, even though the rest of the house was anything but clean.

The women got to work boxing up the dolls for their trip to a local auction house. It wasn't going to be easy to see them go, but they knew that a doll enthusiast would be thrilled to acquire such an extensive collection.

The hours flew by, and it was dark before they knew it. Realizing that they wouldn't be able to finish in one day, they stacked the boxes that were ready to be moved and placed the remaining dolls in the cribs and bassinets. They would have to wait for another time. Worn out from their long day, the sisters turned off the lights and headed for home.

A few days later, Karen returned to pick up where they left off. Her sister hadn't been able to get time off from work, so she was on her own this round. She started by loading the boxes that were filled and ready to go onto the truck she had rented for the occasion.

After clearing the smaller items out of the living area, Karen turned her attention to the dolls' room, where she planned to haul out the containers she and her sister had packed on their earlier visit. When she opened the door and switched on the light, she was stunned by what she saw.

Several of the boxes they had so carefully stacked had somehow overturned, spilling the contents everywhere. Some of the dolls that had been placed in the cribs were still there, while others lay scattered on the floor.

Karen's first thought was that someone had broken into the house and ransacked the place. After having a look around, she determined that none of the other rooms seemed to have been disturbed.

She honestly couldn't tell if any dolls were missing; there were simply too many to recall. There wasn't really anything she could do other than to pick up the mess and start over again.

Karen didn't know why, but she had an uneasy feeling that day while working in the dolls' space. She was so uncomfortable that she decided to cut her work short and leave early. Even so, she had managed to get quite a few boxes of dolls packed and loaded onto the truck before going on her way.

Just like before, the remaining dolls were temporarily stored in the beds to await their turn. Karen knew that she could have just left them on the floor, but her mother had taken good care of them and she wanted to do the same.

She was back at the house bright and early the following morning, accompanied by her husband and sister. She had already told them about the room being in a shambles the day before, but neither had seemed particularly alarmed by the story.

When they entered the room, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that something wasn't right. Rather than being in the cribs and bassinets where they belonged, the dolls were strewn all over the place.

Some were on the floor while others were sitting up in chairs. A few were even found lying on top of the chest of drawers. Karen knew that those pieces of furniture had been bare the day before; she had cleared them off herself.

She was spooked and told her husband and sister as much. This was not the condition in which she had left the room. Her husband looked around for signs of a break-in but could find none. The outside doors were locked. The windows were also secured. No one except for Karen and her father had keys, and he was living in another town.

Whatever the explanation, they decided to hurry up and get the room cleaned out. They boxed up the remaining dolls, along with their accessories, and loaded them onto the truck.

By early that evening, not a single doll was left in the house. Soon, they would be driven away and auctioned off to the highest bidder. Contrary to her feelings at the beginning of the project, Karen was happy that she would never have to see them again.

The house was put on the market not long afterward, and the family moved on with their lives. The time had come to put the past to rest. They gave no further thought to the strange events that had surrounded the doll collection, that is until they visited their mother's final resting place in Portsmouth.

Karen and her sister hadn't been to the cemetery to see Midge's gravesite since her burial. They were waiting for her marker to be erected, which had taken some weeks. When they finally made the pilgrimage with their families in tow, they brought along fresh flowers to lay by her headstone.

As they approached the area in which Midge was interred, they were surprised to see that someone had already left a remembrance. Propped against the newly laid stone marker was a porcelain doll attired in a velvet and lace dress. Karen couldn't be sure, but she thought she recognized the delicate figurine as having been one of her mother's favorites among her vast collection.

Karen's husband scoffed at the notion. He reasoned that someone who had known Midge had probably placed the doll there in lieu of flowers. It was as simple as that.

The sisters found it hard to hide their skepticism as they exchanged looks. They could think of no one in their mother's life who would have performed such an act. The longer she looked at the doll, the more convinced Karen became that she had seen it in her mother's home in the days following her passing.

There was one way to be sure. Midge had always sewn her initials into her dolls' clothing. Her daughters weren't sure why, but it had been her habit for as long as they could remember.

Karen bent down and picked up the doll. She lifted its dress and searched until she found what she was looking for. There, stitched into the back of the petticoat, were the letters 'MW.'

No one said a word as they tried to make sense of the doll's presence. Instead of taking it with her, Karen placed the figure back in front of the headstone. She knew that her mother would have wanted it that way.

When she returned home, she phoned her father and asked him if he had, by any chance, left a doll at Midge's gravesite. He replied that he had not. He added that he hadn't been to the cemetery and had no plans of visiting anytime soon.

Had someone unknown to the family found one of Midge's most treasured possessions and traveled over two hours to leave it at her gravesite? It's certainly possible. Or could it be that one of the dolls that she had shared her life with and loved with all her heart had somehow found her final resting place? You be the judge.

*Names have been altered in order to protect the privacy of those involved.

Did a distraught father transfer the spirit of his late son into a doll?

Did a distraught father transfer the spirit of his late son into a doll?

The Find

Children, in their innocence, oftentimes believe that inanimate objects come to life when the notion strikes them. As adults, we know that such things are impossible. We rest easy in the knowledge that the items with which we are surrounded are incapable of harboring life. The following anecdote shakes that belief to its foundation.

In 1972, Kerry Walton returned to his hometown of Wagga Wagga, Australia, to attend a funeral. While there, the adventurous twenty-something decided to pay a visit to one of his old stomping grounds, a deserted house with a reputation for being haunted.

After arriving at the abandoned structure, Walton acted on his life-long desire to explore the property. His quest was made simple by the dilapidated state of the place which allowed easy access.

Once inside, he was a bit overwhelmed by the countless items that had been amassed over the years. Scavenging around in the debris, he came upon one thing that stood out from the rest. There, secreted away underneath the floorboards, lay what he thought at first was a well-preserved human body.

Upon closer examination, Walton discovered that the object was actually a hand-carved wooden doll. In spite of its rather off-putting appearance, he knew immediately that this would be his one takeaway.

Without giving it a second thought, he scooped up the doll and placed it in the trunk of his car. Fairly certain that he had lucked into something of value, he made off with his newly acquired treasure.

On the drive back to his home in Queensland, Walton could hear something moving around in the back of the vehicle. Curious as to what was causing the incessant noise, he pulled over and opened the hatch. Everything seemed to be in order, including the doll, which was right where he had placed it. Satisfied that all was well, he shrugged the whole thing off and continued on his way.

After reaching his destination, Walton brought the doll into his house. He found out, in short order, that the unwavering gaze of the wooden figure was a bit more than he could take. In an attempt to escape its ever-watchful eyes, he placed the doll inside of a bag and tied it shut.

Walton and his brother claimed that they heard strange sounds coming from the sack which led them to name the doll, 'Letta Me Out.' They didn't know it at the time, but their inside joke would prove closer to reality than they could have imagined.

It soon became apparent that Letta, as the doll would come to be known, was no ordinary toy. The first ones to sound the alarm bells were the family dogs. The normally unfazed canines would growl and raise their hackles anytime they were in the doll's presence. They would only calm down when they were safely away from Letta.

Walton eventually decided to follow through with his original intent to sell the oddity. He got the ball rolling by placing an ad in the newspaper which resulted in an offer he couldn't refuse. It was only when the time came to make the exchange that things hit a snag.

He met up with the buyer, who was eager to take possession of the unique specimen. Letta, as it turned out, had other plans. When Walton attempted to lift the figure out of the car, it wouldn't budge from the seat.

No matter how hard he pulled on the wooden body, it remained firmly planted to the spot. Seemingly glued to the car seat, Letta would not be shifted. Admitting defeat, Walton nixed the sale and drove home with the doll that, for better or worse, was his for the foreseeable future.

Unable to move past the events of that day, Walton decided to find out as much as he could about Letta. He started off by taking the doll to a museum in Sydney, where it was examined by the curator.

It was determined that Letta had probably been crafted in Eastern Europe some two hundred years earlier. With its furrowed brow, perpetual grin, and coal black eyes, Letta's face was a mask of turmoil.

The curator noted that the doll's head was topped with human hair, a common practice of gypsies back in the day. It was obvious that whoever created the piece had taken great pains to ensure that it was as realistic as possible. This became all the more evident when, upon further inspection, it was discovered that a perfectly formed brain had been sculpted beneath the scalp.

These disturbing revelations were eye-opening, but Walton still wanted to know more. He knew that, in order to truly learn about Letta, he would have to enter the doll's world. The only way he could think of to accomplish this was to bring in someone who dealt in the supernatural. It was then that he contacted the first of what would turn out to be a long line of psychics.

One of the mediums who connected with the doll claimed that it housed the soul of a young Romanian boy who had drowned in the 1800s. According to the seer, the child's father was an old-world craftsman who had carved the wooden doll in the image of his only son. Other subsequent psychic readings uncovered remarkably similar accounts.

As the story goes, the boy and his father had shared an unbreakable bond. The child, at the age of five or six, had become obsessed with the idea that he would soon die and thus be separated from the parent he so cherished.

In order to soothe his child's worries, the man had assured him that nothing would ever keep them apart, not even death. The boy, content in the belief that he would always be by his father's side, laid his fears to rest. Not long afterward, the end he had foreseen came to pass.

Believing that souls remained earthbound for only a brief period after the death of the body, the boy's father wasted no time in keeping his promise. He knew that his son's spirit needed a vessel, and he quickly got to work providing him with a suitable host.

The psychics didn't know if the man had summoned the child's soul himself or enlisted the aid of a practitioner of the occult. However it was instigated, the exchange had been successful. The boy's spirit, which had stayed close to home, had taken up residence in the wooden doll that had been born of his father's hands.

Although Letta was intended to represent the lost boy in every way, its features are those of an adult. Perhaps this was because the intricacies of a child's face were nearly impossible to duplicate in wood. There is also the possibility that the father imagined his son as an adult and then proceeded to make his vision real.

The man kept the doll by his side for the remainder of his life. After his passing, it changed ownership numerous times before ending up in Australia. It would be there that Kerry Walton would stumble across it, completely by chance.

Letta has proven, time and again, that he is no ordinary doll. Witnesses claim that they have seen him change expressions at will. Instances of nausea, dizziness, and even fainting spells have occurred in his presence. Still others burst into uncontrollable sobs upon seeing the figure. It is presumed that this visceral reaction is felt by those who sense the hopelessness of the eternal child trapped inside the wooden shell.

No animal can stand to be in the same room as Letta. They seem to know, more than their human counterparts, that there is more to the doll than meets the eye. If left unrestrained, dogs have attempted to savage the figure they instinctively perceive as an abomination.

Letta's antics are well-known in the Walton home. Scuff marks on the floors, made by shoes too small for human feet, have appeared in the rooms occupied by the doll. Objects in those same areas are often moved from one place to another when only Letta is present.

In the early years of Letta's exploits, Walton's children claimed that the doll had often spoken to them. They also experienced its scurrying about their rooms in the dead of night. As if that weren't enough, the youngsters also endured terrifying nightmares that seemed to always have Letta at their center.

Walton refused, then and now, to give up on the doll, despite the upheaval it has caused in their lives. Besides, he reasons, after his previous failed attempt at rehoming, he doesn't believe that the doll would allow a sale to proceed. He accepts that, once Letta becomes part of a family, the arrangement is final.

Making the best of an unusual situation, the Waltons have brought the doll into the public eye, where it has become somewhat of a celebrity in Australia. Letta has been featured in various publications as well as on television news broadcasts. During one such outing, a camera operator claimed that he witnessed the doll turn its head independently.

The family tends to view the figure not as an evil entity but as the spirit of a little boy. Sadly, a loving act meant to forever unite father and son now prevents the pair from being together in the afterlife. With no way of finding his long-lost parent, the soul inhabiting the doll connects with the family he has in lieu of the one he longs for but is denied.

According to Walton, Letta will remain a part of their clan until the last of them is gone. When that inevitable event occurs, it will, presumably, find another family, and the cycle will repeat itself, just as it has for centuries.

If the psychics were correct and the doll's essence is human, then the original crafter didn't do his son any favors. His act of undying love carried out with the best of intentions, doomed his child to an eternity spent watching those around him leave this earth until he alone remains.

So, as you slumber in your safe and cozy nest, can you really be certain that the objects that fill your home are simply products with no will of their own? In the end, one can never really know who or what may exist behind their unremarkable facades.


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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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