Annabelle and her terrifying true story

The true story of a doll harnessing a demonic spirit, waiting to possess a human soul.

Annabelle hardly needs an introduction as we were first introduced to her in James Wan’s hit haunter, The Conjuring. Annabelle was such a terrifying force in Wan’s film that despite her lack of screen time, she still managed to get her very own feature film—directed by John R. Leonetti—that hits theaters on October 3rd.

Pediophobia. It’s a relatively common fear of dolls, and although they can be seen as harmless toys, some of them have been said to harness a very real evil. One such doll is Annabelle and her story starts in 1970. This is the true story behind Annabelle.

It’s 1970 and a mother walks away from a hobby store with a new possession, an antique Raggedy Ann Doll. The doll was a present for her daughter, Donna, who at the time was nearing a degree in nursing where she lived in a very small apartment with Angie, her roommate. She loved her new gift but was unaware of the force that was living behind those lifeless little eyes. After a few days of owning the doll, Donna and her roommate started to notice that something was off about her recent gift. It started moving.

At first the doll would move only very slightly, like she would change the position in which she was originally sitting. This, for the most part, was something Donna and Angie could ignore. What started to happen next, however, is where things get creepy. One night, Donna and Angie found that Annabelle had moved into a different room, with no one there to move her. No matter where they left her, Annabelle would often return to Donna’s room where she sat on the bed with the door closed. Annabelle didn’t just move from room to room, though, that would have been much too easy. She could write, too.


Around a month after Donna received her mother’s lovely gift, she began to find messages written on paper that simply said: “Help Us” and “Help Lou”. Lou, a friend of Donna and Angie’s, absolutely hated the doll as he could sense that there was something evil and otherworldly about it. He warned them to get rid of it but they wouldn’t listen. That kind of stuff can’t be real real, can it? To make matters even worse, the messages were written as if a small child had done it. Annabelle had been leaving these writings behind on pieces of parchment paper, but get this, Donna didn’t own any parchment paper. So where exactly did it come from? That, unfortunately, is something we may never know.

One night Donna came home to find that Annabelle had been sitting on her bed, which as we already learned wasn’t anything new. Something didn’t feel right about that night, though. Donna looked closely at Annabelle and found what appeared to be blood on the back of her hands. No one really knows where this blood came from, but Donna decided it was time for some serious help and contacted a medium for advice.

The medium held a seance where they discovered that the doll was harnessing the spirit of Annabelle Higgins, a seven-year-old girl that was found dead in the field that Donna’s apartment was built on. According to the medium, the spirit of Annabelle felt at ease with both Donna and Angie and wanted to stay with them where she could be loved. Annabelle’s sad story was enough to convince Donna to keep her, a decision she would later regret. The evil was only just beginning.


One night poor Lou woke up from a deep sleep in full on panic mode, all thanks to a reoccurring bad dream of his. Except this time it was different. He couldn’t move his body. He quickly scanned the dark room but found nothing, until he looked down towards his feet. Why did you have to look down, Lou? Annabelle, with her innocent little smile, was sitting there waiting. Paralyzed in fear, Lou watched her slowly move up his leg and across his chest where she stopped for just a moment before she started choking him. Unable to fight,  Lou blacked out only to wake up the next morning where he convinced himself that it was all just a dream.

The next day, while preparing for a road trip and looking over some maps, Lou and Angie started to hear some noises coming out of Donna’s room. Donna wasn’t home. They immediately thought that someone had broken into the apartment. Lou slowly made his way towards the noise, which was coming from behind the closed door of Donna’s room. When the noises suddenly stopped, he entered the room and flipped the light on. Nothing. The room was completely empty except for Annabelle, who was laying in the corner of the room. As he started walking closer to the doll he began to get that feeling that he was being watched. Was there something behind him? He spun around only to find that he was all alone in the room, and that’s when Annabelle went to work.

Lou was quickly engulfed in pain as his chest was immediately littered in cuts, filling his shirt with blood. There were 7 very clear claw marks buried into his flesh. Could this have been the work of Annabelle? Was she trying to send a message to Lou? The scratches healed extremely fast as they were completely gone in just a couple of days. There’s no way that this doll was the home of a little girl’s spirit. It was something far more sinister. After the incident with Lou, Donna was finally willing to see Annabelle for what she really was and decided to get the help of Ed and Lorraine Warren.


The Warrens quickly realized that an inhuman spirit had attached itself to the doll, waiting to possess a human host. According to the Warrens, spirits do not possess inanimate objects like houses or toys, they possess people. This spirt was apparently in the infestation stage, which explains why Annabelle was moving around the house as the spirit was looking for recognition. The say that had the spirit been in this stage much longer, that it would have completely possessed a human soul.

Once the investigation was coming to an end, the Warrens decided it would be best to rid the apartment of its evil by performing an exorcism led by Father Cooke. After that, Donna smartly handed the doll over to the Warrens where they would ultimately leave it on display in the Warren’s Occult Museum. To this day Annabelle still sits inside a glass case specifically designed to keep the doll in place. A sign below her states: Warning, positively do not open. How’s that for a warning?

If you ever plan on visiting their Occult Museum to check out Annabelle for yourself, you might want to read this next bit. A young man and his girlfriend showed up to the museum to get a good look at the doll after hearing Ed’s story. The man began to hit the case, taunting the doll and asking it to scratch him. That was a terrible mistake on his part. On his way home from the museum he lost control of his motorcycle, driving it straight into a tree. He was killed instantly, and although the girlfriend survived, she spent over a year in the hospital recovering. She would later say that they were laughing about the doll just before the crash.

There it is. The true story behind The Conjuring’s Annabelle doll. Of all the true stories I’ve covered on here, this has to be the scariest. Is there any real truth behind it, though? That’s no doubt the big question surrounding Annabelle’s story, and unfortunately, we’ll probably never know the answer to it. Do you believe in such things? Do you think a child’s doll like Annabelle can harness the evil of a demonic spirit? Let me know in the comments!

Read more articles like this: The Conjuring and its True Story, The Possession and its True Story, The Quiet Ones and its True Story, Winchester and the True Story behind the Mystery House


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14 thoughts on “Annabelle and her terrifying true story

  1. I don’t believe in ghost stories like this, that possess people and things and can hurt people, but they do make for some damn good movies! Books too, for that matter. I loved both The Conjuring and the book it was based on.

    1. I’m in the same boat. I’ve always had a hard time believing in these stories because if it were real you’d think we’d be seeing it more. And you’re right, they make for some fantastic stories!

    1. Glad you dig them, man! She was terrifying in The Conjuring, but it makes me wonder if that’s only because we saw her sparingly. Will she have the same impact in a feature film?

      1. I think quite possibly. It really depends on how much they set up mood and atmosphere. Which is true of any horror film. But I think with a possessed doll film, there is always that temptation just to throw the doll in everyone’s face. Which works once or twice. But after that, not so much.

  2. You might have 2 raggedy ann dolls but only one had a spirit of a girl. That one is in the museum

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