The story that surrounds this doll is scary. Multiple witnesses have stated Robert can move about on his own, change expressions and eerily giggle.
So is any of this true? Witness reports about this doll’s behavior appears to be authentic--even though in some cases it is exaggerated.
This large doll that eventually would be named after its owner is a one-of-a-kind handcrafted piece made at the turn of the 20th century. It is stuffed with a wood wool known as excelsior. Robert wears a sailor suit and at one time had a painted face similar to a jester.
|Robert (Gene) Eugene Otto|
A disgruntled servant--who supposedly practiced voodoo--gave Robert Eugene Otto this doll in 1906. As a boy, Gene considered Robert his best friend.
It wasn’t long after the doll was in the Otto mansion in Key West, Florida before strange things began to occur.
Neighbors reported seeing this doll move from one window to another in the turret room. Other neighbors claimed they heard the doll giggle maniacally.
Guests that visited the home told the family they saw the doll blink and even change expression.
Strange stories about the doll became commonplace.
|Otto Mansion in Key West|
One night the family awoke to Gene’s screams. They rushed to his room to find it in disarray. Most of the rooms’ furniture was strewn about. Gene pointed to the doll and shouted, “He did it!”
After this, whenever Gene was caught misbehaving he would accuse Robert. Since, many have speculated that the doll absorbed all of Gene’s emotional turmoil as he grew up.
An exaggerated account states that Gene’s other toys were often found mutilated.
Despite these odd occurrences Gene kept the doll until his death in 1974. Myrtle Reuter purchased the home after Gene’s death. The doll was kept in the attic.
Several tenants that lived in the home during this time reported hearing footsteps on the floor above them. One plumber that was called in stated he heard giggling and turned to find the doll had moved across the room.
A Solares Hill newspaper reporter, Malcolm Ross visited the home.
“. . . At first when we walked through the attic door, the look on his face was like a little boy being punished. It was if he was asking himself, who are these people in my room and what are they going to do to me?”
As the small group talked about the doll’s back story Malcolm noticed that Robert’s expression changed--it was as if he was following our conversation.
One of the group mentioned that Gene Otto must have been an old fool at which point the doll’s expression changed to distain.
“There was some kind of intelligence there. The doll was listening to us.”
After owning the doll and the Otto mansion for 6 years Myrtle Reuter moved. She donated the doll to the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West Florida. She told the staff the doll moved around her house on its own and was haunted.
Another exaggerated account states a ten-year old girl owned Robert after Gene’s death. She supposedly stated 30 years later she was convinced the doll was alive and was going to kill her.
Robert remains active. After his arrival at the museum staff noticed a different more intense energy in the building.
Once Robert was placed on display visitors knowing the doll’s history flocked to this museum to see him.
|In display case with|
letters in background
begging for forgiveness.
Others unaware were shocked to see if they treated him with disrespect that their camera’s and electronic devises malfunctioned while near the doll’s display case.
Now, the museums’ staff was surprised by a barrage of letters from former visitors that apologized for their disrespectful behavior and asked for forgiveness. These letters continue to arrive on a regular basis.
Ghost hunters and psychics wonder what causes the strange activity.
Is Robert the result of a voodoo curse? Is he the product of all the evil energy once placed upon him?
In contrast, could he be just a misunderstood playful spirit.
Some wonder if the spirit of Gene, his life-long companion, might be with him still.
Despite all this speculation the activity that surrounds this doll remains a mystery.