Annabelle the Doll: The Origins | Documentary

Annabelle the Doll: The Origins | Documentary

September 2, 2019 100 By William Hollis


The year was 1970. For her 25th birthday, Deidre Bernard received
what, at the time, would have appeared a quirky and fun present – a Raggedy Ann doll. Her mother had given it to her in the hope
that it would bring cheer to her daughter’s apartment whilst she was studying to become
a nurse. The gift was well-received. The following morning Deidre placed the doll
on her bed, with its arms and legs stretched out. However, after just a few days of this new
routine, Deidre started to notice something peculiar: every morning she would leave her
Raggedy Ann doll seated with limbs stretched out, yet, every night she would return to
find the doll’s arms and legs in different positions. Sometimes the doll’s legs would be crossed. Occasionally its arms would crossed and resting
in its lap. Then, there were the times when Deidre would
find the doll’s arms pointing outwards, almost as though it was silently gesturing
to something… The doll’s activity grew odder still. It began to move to different rooms of its
own accord. It was at this point that everyone in the
apartment began to feel the eerie effect of the Raggedy Ann doll. One night Deidre returned home with her roommate
Lara Clifton, also a trainee nurse, and her fiance Cal Randell. Upon opening the door, they found the doll
kneeling before them on a chair. It sat there, staring at them with its big,
black eyes. Despite having been left, as usual, on Deidre’s
bed, the doll had moved. Bothered by the doll’s inexplicable relocation,
they moved the doll and tried to make it kneel again. However, as the rag doll had no joints with
which to kneel, each time they positioned it, it flopped over. The only conclusion they could draw was that
some force had been keeping the limp legs of the doll in the kneeling position. From then, the occurrences grew stranger still. Notes, written in pencil on parchment paper,
began to manifest randomly around the apartment. The messages included phrases like “help
us” or “help Cal”. Strangely, neither Deidre or her roommates
could link these messages to an emergency or urgent situation to attend to at the time. Not only that, none of them kept pencils or
parchment paper anywhere in the apartment. Assuming that someone was breaking into their
home to play a trick on them, Deidre and Lara began leaving marks around windows and doors. They also rearranged furnishings, all in the
hope that, if anyone did enter the apartment, they would leave a trace. All was to no avail. The doll continued to teleport from room to
room and change its posture frequently One day, they arrived home to find the back of
the doll’s hand covered in something which they could only discern as blood. Its hands were bloody, with three distinct
spots of blood on its chest. Understandably, the young women were terrified. In need of resolution, Deidre and Lara contacted
a psychic medium for help. The clairvoyant claimed to have channeled
the spirit of a seven-year-old girl from the doll. It was said that she used to play in the area,
long before the houses were built, back when all that was there were fields. Many happy hours were passed in childish innocence
until, all of a sudden, it mysteriously came to an end. Since her death, the child spirit had wandered
the fields. Once the apartments were built upon them,
its halls became a lonely place for her to haunt. The pace of modern life meant everyone was
at work all the time, leaving the spectral girl with no one to play with. But then, one day, two young women moved in
and brought with them a playful looking Raggedy Ann doll. Finally she had something to play with, and
more so, young people who would be more sympathetic and allow her to play with them. Through the vessel of the psychic medium,
the spirit girl asked if she could live in the doll and be with Deidre and Lara. Touched by her story, the two women said yes
to the little girl, whose name was Annabelle Higgins. That was when the haunting truly began. The doll became Annabelle, and the two young
women started to treat it like a living, breathing being. It was no longer a doll, but Annabelle – a
young and lonely girl. Regardless of the nurses’ compassion, Cal,
Lara’s fiance, was convinced that no good would come from this. He saw it as a voodoo doll of sorts, whose
ambition was to trick and take advantage of them. Annabelle saw that he was a threat, and so
she turned her malevolent gaze upon him. In the weeks that followed, Cal was plagued
with nightmares and ill feelings. One night he awoke to see the doll Annabelle
gliding over his semi-conscious body. Before he could react, its hands were around
his neck. The doll’s big, black eyes stared into his,
as its grasp sought to sap the life from Cal’s body. As hard as he pushed against Annabelle, the
doll would not move – it was as if he were pushing a wall. After much effort, Cal managed to free himself. However, Annabelle would not forget his insult
so easily. Soon after that incident, Cal was alone with
Lara one night in the apartment. After hearing a noise coming from Deidre’s
bedroom, Cal went to investigate the source of the sound. There was nobody in there, except for Annabelle,
which had been tossed on the floor in the corner of the room. Alone, he walked over to the doll. It was then that he claimed he was physically
attacked: doubling over in pain, Cal felt the searing sensation of seven “claw”
marks being etched into his chest. When Lara found him, there was blood “all
over his shirt”. By now, it was becoming increasingly clear
that Annabelle’s attacks were escalating, and that all of their lives were in danger. Deidre, Lara and Cal contacted their local
priest. He in turn contacted his superiors, who passed
on the story of Annabelle to the paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Upon arriving at their apartment and listening
to their testimonies, the Warrens diagnosed the happenings as the result of demonic infestation. There had never been an Annabelle; instead,
it was all the trick of a demonic, “inhuman spirit” delivered through the mouth of an
unsuspecting medium. As Deidre and Lara had agreed to let the entity
possess the doll, it had received the permission required to be able to inflict harm. The Warrens further stated that if the situation
had continued unchecked, the demonic entity would have probably killed them all within
a “week or two”. Thus, Ed contacted the priest and requested
an exorcism of the apartment. The priest duly exorcised and blessed the
apartment and its residents. At Deidre’s request, the Warrens took the
doll home with them. Whilst Deidre, Lara and Cal were now free
of the malevolent entity, for Ed and Lorraine it was only the beginning. Annabelle was placed in the back seat of the
car. Within no time at all, the Warrens felt the
presence of the demonic spirit in the car with them. Angry, it plagued the car, making it stall
and causing the power steering and brakes to fail. At times, Ed claimed he lost all control of
the car. Several times during the drive, they came
close to a fatal accident. The third time that the car stalled, Ed pulled
out a vial of holy water from his equipment bag and splashed the demonic doll with it. For the rest of the car journey home, the
demonic spirit did not bother them. Once home, Ed placed Annabelle in a chair
next to his desk. The Warrens have stated that over the next
few days, the doll levitated and teleported between different rooms of the house. Not only that, one time whilst home alone,
Lorraine reported hearing “loud, rolling growls that reverberated throughout the house”. On one occasion, a priest visited to talk
with the Warrens about their recent case involving Annabelle. During the discourse, the priest picked up
the doll and said: “You are just a rag doll, Annabelle. You can’t hurt anything.” With a laugh, Ed warned him not to say such
a thing again. When it was time for the priest to leave,
Lorraine took special care to tell him to drive carefully. She claimed that her clairvoyance had “discerned
tragedy for that young priest.” A few hours later the priest’s car was totaled
in a near fatal car accident after his brakes had failed. In the years that followed, more incidences
of paranormal phenomena were said to have occurred around Annabelle, including at least
one death. The situation became so dangerous that Ed
and Lorraine had Annabelle encased in a glass box, with the warning: “Positively do not open.” Such is the tale of Annabelle the doll. This is the story that has been recounted
by various writers, most notably Gerald Brittle, who based his book on the Warren’s own case
files and exclusive interviews with the husband and wife duo. In the years that have followed, the tale,
despite its almost fantastical elements, has been presented as unquestionably true. In 2014, these allegedly true events inspired
the prequel to the much-beloved Conjuring horror movie. However, the actual evidence for Annabelle
the doll being infested by an inhuman demonic spirit is scant. Beyond the testimonies of the Warrens and
a Raggedy Ann doll locked away with a warning written in scary font, there is little to
prove the truth of the story. Certainly, even confirming the names of those
involved is a difficult task. Depending on where one looks, Deidre changes
into both “Donna” and “Debbie”. Asides from these inconsistencies, the Warrens
initial handling of the cases raises alarm bells. When they first met with Deidre and the others,
little or no evidence was collected. Their testimonies were taken at face value,
meaning that demonic infestation was the first, and only, conclusion to be drawn. Of course, one can argue that Lorraine’s
clairvoyance allowed her to confirm what they said. But, is this really enough to convince skeptics? Whilst Deidre, Lara and Cal can be said to
have had no motive to lie, misinterpretation or misremembering were never consider a possibility
by the Warrens. As for the spiritual relief felt after the
priest exorcised the apartment, this could be attributed to the natural positive effect
– regardless of the situation – of a priest’s presence to the religious. With such a shaky base, the most cynically
minded might even question the very existence of Deidre, Lara and Cal in the first place. Certainly, it is not necessarily a wise policy
to automatic trust the word of the Warrens. Ed and Lorraine Warren have always been regarded
as sincere and kind-hearted people. However, since founding the New England Society
for Psychic Research in 1952, their work has attracted much criticism and controversy. Indeed, they profited greatly from book sales,
ticket-only evening events, tickets sales to their exclusive museum, and $5,000 lectures
they conducted in the 1990s. All this being said, it is unfair to deny
the couple an income. After all, Ed and Lorraine dedicated much
time to their paranormal research – it would have been impossible for them to have explored
all the cases they did had they not treated it as a job. Even to this day, at the age of 90, Lorraine
is still active, hosting the occasional lecture and evening event. Providing that the Warrens were honest and
professional in their research and fair in their fees, it is unreasonable to criticise
them for making a living. Yet, it is precisely the matter of honesty
and professionalism which has aroused the suspicions of some who have encountered the
Warrens. The Warrens’ occult museum is claimed to
be the “oldest and only museum of its kind”, having attracted attention from across the
globe. Undoubtedly, it is the jewel of the Warrens
work. It is in this museum that Annabelle is housed. During an interview sometime before Ed passed
away in 2006, Ed and Lorraine showed many of the items in their collection to an interviewer. One of the objects discussed was an alleged
original “Books of Shadows”, the Necronomicon. In spite of Ed’s assertion that the Necronomicon book contains English translations
of old and dangerous incantations, it is widely known to be a fictional grimoire published
by an unknown author in 1977. In the years afterwards, it was independently
denounced as fraudulent by many members of the occult community. By stitching together fiction with material
from older sources, the book is “a well-constructed hoax”, being known to have duped several
wannabe paranormal practitioners, including, it seems, the Warrens. Not only is the Necronomicon a literary hoax,
but the claim that it is a Book of Shadows is misleading. Rather than be a collection of ancient and
dangerous spells and rituals, Books of Shadows are associated with the Neopaganism movement
of the 1940s and 50s, and usually contain religious texts and white magic. For someone who made a career off paranormal
research, investigations and knowledge of the occult, it seems like quite a rookie mistake
for Ed to have made. As such, some have drawn the conclusion that
the “Necronomicon” “Book of Shadows”, and many of the other items in the Warrens’
Occult Museum, are merely the stuff of Halloween horror stories – juicy morsels of sensational
horror which serve the purpose of drawing in visitors to their museum. Annabelle the doll, an item in that museum,
could very well serve this same purpose. Yet, as serious a folly as it might seem for
a pair of paranormal experts to present a well-known hoax as real, let us not judge
too harshly. After all, every now and again everyone makes
mistakes: human errors should not be what defines our intellect or our ability to scrutinise. Perhaps it is more prudent, then, to investigate
the ethics of the Warrens. It is here, however, that possibly the most
damning piece of evidence against Ed and Lorraine can be found. In 1992 novelist Ray Garton published the
book, “In a Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting”. The focus of the story, a possession case
involving the Warrens, would eventually go on to inspire the 2009 horror film “The Haunting
in Connecticut”. The story told of the Snedekers, a family
whose home was possessed by ghosts and demons. According to the book, the grip which these
dark entities had on the family was so strong that the family were sexually molested by
the beings. However, the extent of the “truth” behind
this “true” story is questionable, with much of the evidence against the Warrens coming
from the author himself. During an interview for “Horror Bound” magazine,
Garton explained how he worked closely with both the Warrens and the family whilst writing
the book. However, after interviewing the family members
about their experiences, the novelist encountered a problem: “I found that the accounts of the individual
Snedekers didn’t quite mesh. They couldn’t keep their stories straight. I went to Ed with this problem. ‘Oh, they’re crazy,’ he said…. ‘You’ve got some of the story — just use
what works and make the rest up… Just make it up and make it scary.'” In the interview, Garton admitted that he
did what Ed told him. “I used what I could, made up the rest, and
tried to make it as scary as I could.” Perhaps it is all slander. Either way, the claims of Garton and other
instances of doubt, do tarnish the trustworthiness of the Warrens’ word. And, unfortunately, in the case of Annabelle,
the Warrens’ word is all we have. As such, the case of Annabelle the doll can
only be regarded as, at best, dubious. Thank you for watching. If you enjoyed this and think others may do
too, please share this video on social media. Remember, the more you know, the more there
is to fear.