Thirty years ago, the world was introduced to a 29-inch-tall doll in overalls named Chucky. With eyes bluer than a White Walker’s, hair more fiery than Ed Sheeran’s, and a smattering of freckles à la Emma Stone, he looked like the perfect childhood buddy.
Unfortunately, Chucky, the tiny antagonist of the 1988 movie Child’s Play, was possessed by a serial killer with a knack for slaughtering people with butcher knives, yo-yo strings, and anything else he could find around the house. Today, almost everyone knows that if a wild-eyed doll asks, “Wanna play?” the only acceptable response is to run as fast and far as you can.
Then there are people like Kevin Cain, a paranormal investigator in Alabama who owns hundreds of haunted dolls and other items. “I lost count a long time ago,” he says. While Cain may be an especially prolific collector, he’s far from the only one. In fact, there is a thriving marketplace for haunted dolls on the internet.
According to Cain, things really took off after the Annabelle doll appeared in The Conjuring (2013), followed by a solo film, Annabelle: Creation (2017). Annabelle, a vintage porcelain doll with smeared lipstick, a cracked pupil, and claw marks on her face, is possessed by a demonic spirit that enjoys ruthlessly murdering people. That she’s based on a real-life haunted Raggedy Ann doll adds to the intrigue.
With the next installment of the Conjuring series, Annabelle Comes Home, and a reboot of Child’s Play both hitting theaters in late June, there’s sure to be a new wave of people curious about haunted dolls — and perhaps even eager to get their hands on one.
Most haunted dolls sell for around $50 plus shipping, but the most highly prized ones are priced well into the four figures. There’s a formula, too, for how they’re sold: Each listing contains a detailed overview of the spirit’s life story, details of said spirit’s death, and a description of their personality. Dolls are labeled “active” or “highly active” if paranormal phenomena are said to occur frequently in their vicinity.
Kat Blowers, whose Etsy shop FugitiveKatCreations specializes in haunted dolls, says best-sellers tend to be inhabited by female spirits that have some sort of “empowerment” angle. “We have a lot of goddess-type spirits or women who have survived terrible situations and thrived.” She also sees high demand for witches around Halloween and leprechauns near St. Patrick’s Day.
Best-sellers tend to be inhabited by female spirits that have some sort of “empowerment”
While there are con artists looking to take advantage of uneducated buyers, many haunted item purveyors hold themselves to what they see as high ethical and scientific standards. “It costs us a fortune in tools,” says Blowers. Whenever she acquires a new doll, Blowers and her husband put it through an intense investigation that lasts one to three months.
First, the doll is separated from any other paranormal objects in the house. Then it’s examined with a K-II EMF meter, a device used by paranormal investigators to detect electromagnetic energy, for a period of three to five days. Blowers then places the doll in a sound box (“basically a foam box”), with a voice-activated recorder to see if she can hear any words or phrases. “We’ve heard music before, which is really weird,” she tells me.
Finally, they conduct lucid dreaming sessions, which involve sleeping next to the doll alongside a piece of amethyst (which is supposed to be a potent lucid dreaming crystal) to see if they have any weird dreams. Blowers typically ends up with a 15-page report by the end of each investigation.
Unlike in horror films, real-life haunted dolls aren’t necessarily bloodthirsty beings with a penchant for sharp objects. “Not everything is evil,” says Cain. “Yes, there are demons, and Annabelle is example number one of that, but also good spirits. If a ghost can haunt a house or building or ship, why can’t it just hang around an item it once owned or reminds them of something in their past?” He theorizes that spirits like to hang around dolls and other toys because of their familiarity and strong emotional connection.
However, this doesn’t mean buyers shouldn’t beware. Cain routinely refuses people who email begging to purchase one of his haunted dolls. “I tell them it’s not for everybody. You don’t know what you’re asking for,” he says. “These dolls aren’t for entertainment or fun. These are actual haunted items with spirits attached who want to be respected. Then you have those who, if you’re not careful, are demonic and ready to tear into your soul.”
He describes an episode where a young woman bought a doll online that was supposed to be haunted by a kind, positive spirit, but she ended up with something dark and malevolent. After a string of strange occurrences culminating in feeling tiny hands around her neck one night, she contacted Cain and shipped the doll off to him. Luckily, he knew how to bind the demonic spirit, ultimately sealing the doll in a box coated in holy water and storing it on the highest shelf in his home, where it remains.
Demons aside, selling haunted dolls online comes with some technical challenges. For one thing, eBay isn’t too keen on the whole concept and has a policy that specifically forbids the selling of souls. According to a statement from the company back in 2000, “eBay does not allow the auctioning of human souls for the following reasons: If the soul does not exist, eBay could not allow the auctioning of the soul because there would be nothing to sell. However, if the soul does exist then, in accordance with eBay’s policy on human parts and remains, we would not allow the auctioning of human souls.” In 2012, eBay further banned metaphysical items including spells, hexes, potions, and magical services.
Some sellers found creative workarounds, including winking claims that their dolls are “for entertainment purposes only” or “sold as is.” They also often state there’s no guarantee of paranormal activity and indemnify themselves from the consequences of anything that does or doesn’t happen. Others, deterred by eBay’s crackdown, simply packed up and moved to Etsy.
The haunted doll market certainly isn’t disappearing anytime soon. Cain expects there’ll be a huge surge in demand this summer thanks to Annabelle and Chucky’s big-screen appearances — something he’s not particularly thrilled about. For anyone considering a haunted doll purchase, he has one message: “Be careful what you buy. It may be phony — or, worse yet, it may be something demonic.”
Mysterious Exhuming of John Dillinger’s Grave May Disturb His Ghost
On July 22, 1934, Depression-era gangster John Dillinger was killed by FBI agents as he left the Biograph Theater in Chicago. Or was he? More than 5,000 showed up at the Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis for the burial of his wooden casket. While some accounts say it was encased in cement, the most accepted one is that Dillinger’s father had the casket buried under a concrete cap, scrap iron and four slabs of reinforced concrete. Was it to protect the remains from his former gang? From morbid curiosity seekers? Or was it to hide the fact that the family tricked the FBI into shooting someone else and buried that body instead while the real Dillinger escaped? Someone is in that grave and someone’s ghost haunts the Biograph Theater and a hotel in Tucson where Dillinger stayed before he was captured. Whose?
We may soon know at least some of the answers. The Indiana State Department of Health approved a request by Dillinger’s nephew, Michael C. Thompson, to have the body exhumed from Crown Hill Cemetery and then re-interred there. While they claim there’s no connection, The History Channel will be there to document the exhumation and examination. Not all of Dillinger’s relatives are behind this project. Dillinger’s great-nephew, Jeff Scalf, thinks it’s “desecrating the dead.”
What about the ghosts?
The Biograph Theater is said to be haunted by Dillinger’s ghost, but the scariest accounts come from the alley behind it, where Dillinger was killed. Some stories say a shadowy figure is seen running in the alley before falling as if shot and disappearing. The shadow cannot be identified, leading some to question whether it’s Dillinger or the alleged double.
Another haunted spot with a Dillinger connection is the Hotel Congress in Tucson, Arizona. A fancy hotel known for catering to wealthy guests, the third floor of the Hotel Congress caught fire in January 1934 and residents of that floor had to be evacuated. One group that resisted leaving was John Dillinger and his gang, who were hiding in Tucson after a series of bank robberies back east. They were finally convinced to leave, but they regretted it. On January 25, Dillinger and the gang were arrested in Tucson and taken to Indiana. Dillinger escaped six weeks later, but the problems that started at the Hotel Congress contributed to his eventual demise. You remember the Hotel Congress, right? It was restored, but four rooms there are said to be haunted. Is it Dillinger coming back to get even?
The Chicago Tribune says the Indiana health department expects Dillinger’s body will be exhumed and re-interred on Sept. 16 — the date listed on the permit issued to Michael C. Thompson. The Tribune contacted the Crown Hill Cemetery, which has no information about the plans to exhume Dillinger’s body. It also received no response from Savanah Light, the funeral director whose name is listed on the permit.
Why is Michael C. Thompson exhuming John Dillinger’s body? Will he share what he finds? Will this put the ghosts to rest? Will anyone be watching at the Biograph Theater or the Hotel Congress?
Will someone start a ‘Storm Dillinger’s Grave, He Can’t Shoot Us Anymore’ movement?
One of the homes that became a gruesome murder site at the hands of the Manson Family has been sold … appropriately to Zak Bagans, the star of “Ghost Adventures” … TMZ has learned.
The house was owned by Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, the couple brutally murdered by Manson family members. Rosemary was stabbed 41 times … Leno 12 times. The August, 1969 murders came the day after Manson Family members slaughtered Sharon Tate and 4 others. The murders sent shock waves through Los Angeles like never seen before.
We’re told Zak jumped when he heard the home was up for sale for $1.98 million. He literally ran to check out the house, and made a close-to-asking offer. It’ll close in early Sept. He was smart to jump, because the realtor tells us there were multiple backup offers.
The news comes the day before the official opening of the Quentin Tarantino film, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” starring Brad Pitt and Leo DiCaprio. The sale will close JUST after the 50 year anniversary of the murders.
Zak tells TMZ, as a collector of dark culture, he was drawn to the home’s history. It was such a gruesome scene … after committing the murders, the Family members showered at the home before leaving.
Zak says almost everything inside is original, and that’s one of the main things that attracted him.
The house is 1,600 square feet and has 2 bedrooms and 2 baths. It also has explosive city views.
Zak won’t say what he plans to do with the house, but says it has a storied history beyond just the Manson murders. He says dogs have mysteriously disappeared from the property and occupants have been freaked out over what he says is paranormal activity.