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Annabelle: Why the true story of Annabelle is more terrifying than the Hollywood version

The true story of the Annabelle doll is unbelievable, and fascinating
The true story of the Annabelle doll is unbelievable, and fascinating

The Annabelle doll sits behind a mess of crimson hair, smiling sweetly, and in a glass case with a hand-carved inscription of the Lord’s Prayer. However, there is a notice that says, “Warning, positively do not open,” posted underneath the container.

A casual visitor to the Warrens’ Occult Museum in Monroe, Connecticut, may mistake her for any other Raggedy Ann doll from the middle of the twentieth century. However, the original Annabelle doll is not like the others.

This supposedly malevolent doll has been blamed for demonic possession, several violent assaults, and at least two near-death experiences since her first purported haunting in 1970. It’s also no secret that the tales of Annabelle have sparked a slew of horror movies in recent years.

But how accurate is Annabelle’s story? Is the actual Annabelle doll possessed by a demon looking for a human host, or is she just a toy that the movie industry uses to make a killing (pun intended)? Given below are some of the authentic Annabelle tales.

The True Story of Annabelle the Doll

The Annabelle doll at the Occult Museum of famous paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, the couple who worked on the case, is rendered all the more disturbing by her plain appearance since she does not share the porcelain skin and realistic features of her film counterpart.

Annabelle’s half-smile and brilliant orange triangle nose are just two embroidered elements that bring back nostalgic feelings of playtime and simpler times.

Even though Ed Warren passed away in 2006 and Lorraine in early 2019, you can be confident that they would agree that the cautions written in large letters across Annabelle’s glass case are very required.

According to the famous demonologist pair, two near-death experiences, one deadly accident, and a series of demonic activities spanning some 30 years have been linked to the doll.

Though drastically different from her movie counterpart, the real life Annabelle doll is much more terrifying

These iconic hauntings supposedly began in 1970, with the haunted Raggedy Ann doll. Two young ladies first related the tale to the Warrens, and the Warrens continued to tell it for years.

According to the tale, a 28-year-old nurse called Donna (or Deirdre, depending on the source) received an Annabelle doll as a birthday present from her mother. To the delight of her roommate, the young nurse Angie, Donna took the present back to their shared apartment.

At first, the doll was just a cute decoration to have on the couch in the living room and smile at guests. But the two ladies soon realized that Annabelle was seemingly wandering the house at will.

When Donna left for work in the morning, she would sit on the couch, but when she returned in the afternoon, she would find her in the bedroom, the door closed.

Then Donna and Angie discovered “Help Me” messages throughout the flat. The ladies said the notes were written on parchment, which they never kept in the house.

And while Donna was gone, Angie’s boyfriend, who will be referred to as “Lou,” was in the apartment and heard what sounded like a break-in in Angie’s room.


A scene from The Conjuring with the Miss Me paper instead of the original Help Me

A scene from The Conjuring with the Miss Me paper instead of the original Help Me

There was no evidence of a break-in, but he did find the Annabelle doll face down on the floor (other versions of the story say he was attacked upon waking up from a nap).

As a sudden agony shot through his chest, he glanced down and saw a series of bloody claw marks. They disappeared completely two days later.

After Lou’s terrifying incident, the ladies decided to see a medium about the supernatural nature of their dilemma. The medium conducted a seance, during which she informed the ladies that the doll was possessed by the ghost of a girl called Annabelle Higgins, whose corpse had been discovered at the location where their building now stands many years before.

The psychic said that the ghost was kind and just sought human affection. The two young nurses felt sorry for the spirit and permitted her to stay within the doll.

Ed and Lorraine Warren Enters the Scene

Ultimately, Donna and Angie contacted an Episcopal priest named Father Hegan to exorcise the Annabelle doll’s ghost from their house. After Hegan notified his boss, Father Cooke, the Warrens, Ed and Lorraine, were brought in.

The Warrens believed that the issue began when the two girls gave the doll no credence. Instead of a good spirit, the Warrens thought Annabelle was possessed by a demonic energy looking to have a human body. In their telling of the events, the Warrens state:

“People are the only things that spirits may possess, not buildings or goods. In the Annabelle doll case, a non-human nature took up residence. This ghost made the doll seem to be alive by controlling its movements. The ghost, in truth, wasn’t interested in staying with the doll; it wanted to possess a human body.”

Right away, the Warrens saw what they took to be symptoms of demonic possession, such as teleportation (the doll moving on its own), the materialization (of parchment paper notes), and the “mark of the beast” (Lou’s clawed chest).

After that, Father Cooke was called in by the Warrens to conduct an exorcism of the flat. Then, to stop Annabelle’s demonic rule, they removed her from the residence and placed her in the Occult Museum.

Lorraine Warren taking the Annabelle doll from Donna

Lorraine Warren taking the Annabelle doll from Donna

Minutes after acquiring Annabelle, the Warrens recorded their first ghostly encounter with the doll.

Once the Warrens had finished exorcising the nurses’ apartment, they loaded Annabelle into the trunk of their car and resolved not to drive on the highway in case she still had any control over them. The pair tried to use the safer back routes, but even those were too dangerous for them.

Lorraine stated that the brakes failed or stopped on the trip home, causing them to almost crash numerous times. According to her, the braking issue vanished once Ed dumped Holy Water on the doll from his backpack.

When Ed and Lorraine returned to their house, they took the doll and put it in Ed’s office. They said the doll floated in the air and moved about the home. The Warrens maintained that she would appear in the house at some point, even after being held in a secured office in a separate building.

The Lord’s Prayer and the Saint Michael’s Prayer have been etched on a custom glass and wood case that the Warrens commissioned. Ed continued to pray over the case occasionally for the remainder of his life, and the evil spirit and the doll were both kept safe and imprisoned.

Annabelle hasn’t budged since being locked up, but her ghost supposedly keeps trying to make contact with the real world.

During one visit to the Warrens’ exhibit, a priest picked up Annabelle and dismissed her demonic talents. Ed tried to warn the young priest against making light of Annabelle’s demonic power, but the priest only laughed at him. On his way home, the priest’s brand-new automobile was destroyed in a near-fatal accident.

He said he was backing up and saw Annabelle in the mirror just before the crash.

The Annabelle doll in her case in the Warren Occult museum

The Annabelle doll in her case in the Warren Occult museum

Another curious onlooker remarked on the case of the doll years later, laughing at the gullibility of those who believed in Annabelle. As he returned home on his motorbike, he lost control and ran into a tree. His girlfriend barely escaped unscathed, but he perished instantaneously.

She said they were joking about the Annabelle doll, and that’s what caused the disaster.

Even though none of these claims could be verified, the Warrens persisted in telling them throughout the years as evidence of Annabelle the doll’s terrifying abilities.

None of the young priests or the bikers’ identities were revealed. The first two victims of Annabelle were two nurses named Donna and Angie, but neither of them ever came forward to tell their tale. It seems that neither Father Cooke nor Father Hegan ever brought up the fact that they had exorcised her.

We can only take the Warrens’ word that this event occurred.

The True Origins of the Annabelle Doll from the Franchise

Whether or not any ghost sightings happened, the stories told were enough to inspire director/producer James Wan to create a sustainable and profitable horror world.

Using the actual Annabelle doll as motivation, Wan began writing the tale about a cursed porcelain doll named Annabelle in 2014.

While the movie doll may seem much scarier, there are a few key distinctions between the Warrens doll and the one seen onscreen.

The doll itself is the most blatant giveaway. The movie Annabelle is based on old handcrafted porcelain dolls with actual braided hair and glittering glass eyes. In contrast, the real Annabelle is a child’s toy with exaggerated features and soft body parts.

The Annabelle doll in her case in the Warren Occult museum

The Annabelle doll in her case in the Warren Occult museum

Annabelle’s behavior, like her appearance, was amplified for shock effect in the films. Annabelle from the movie goes from house to house, terrifying families, possessing members of Satanic cults, murdering children, dressing up as a nun, and wreaking havoc in the Warrens’ own home, rather than just two roommates and one boyfriend.

Wan has concocted enough mayhem for three smash hits, despite the actual Annabelle being only accused of one murder.

(If you enjoyed reading so far, I bet you’ll love the rest of the story too. BTW, you can support the Morbid Curiosity blog here. In any case, however, thanks for reading).

The Real Annabelle’s New Home at the Museum

Even though Ed and Lorraine Warren are no longer with us, their daughter Judy and her husband Tony Spera have continued their work. Until his death in 2006, Ed Warren looked to Spera as his demonology student, entrusting him with the care of his occult artifacts and the continuation of his work.

The Annabelle doll and her case are two such items. Like his predecessors before him, Spera has warned visitors to the Warrens’ Occult Museum not to underestimate Annabelle.

“Could it be harmful?” asks Spera. “Yes. Is this the museum’s most lethal exhibit? Yes.”

Nonetheless, the Warrens’ relationship with the truth is thorny, so don’t take their word for it.

They gained notoriety for their participation in the “Amityville Horror” case and the cases that served as the basis for the film The Conjuring. However, their findings have since been disproven.

A scene from Annabelle comes home

A scene from Annabelle comes home

The New England Skeptical Society conducted an inquiry that concluded the Warrens’ Occult Museum’s objects were primarily fake, based on evidence including doctored photographs and embellished accounts.

Spera compares unsettling the Annabelle doll to playing Russian roulette if anybody still doubts the doll’s supernatural abilities. Even if there was just one bullet left in the rifle, would you still pull the trigger? Or would you put the gun down instead?

In August 2020, rumors spread that the original Annabelle doll had escaped from the Warrens’ Occult Museum, fanning the flames of real-life horror around the doll (which closed down, at least temporarily, due to zoning issues in 2019).

Social media helped disseminate false information, but it took only a short time for the public to realize it was wrong. Soon after, Spera shared a video of himself with the actual Annabelle doll on display at the museum.

Spera reassured everyone that Annabelle was still alive. “I shouldn’t say alive. Annabelle has arrived in all her notoriety. She was a museum stalwart; she never left the establishment.”

However, by adding, “I’d be frightened if Annabelle truly did go since she’s nothing to play with,” Spera ensured that the anxieties that have kept the genuine Annabelle doll horrifying for 50 years would continue to be fueled.

Representation in Hollywood

The doll Annabelle is featured in the prequel spinoff film of the same name. John Form gave Mia Form, his expectant wife, the doll as an early present. Annabelle Higgins and her partner, members of a satanic sect called the Disciples of the Ram, break into the Forms’ home sometime after Mia receives the doll, occupy it, and use it to channel evil.

Since then, the devil within them, pretending to be Higgins’ spirit, has haunted the Forms. A day came when the devil demanded Mia’s soul, or he would take Leah, Mia’s daughter. Mia had planned suicide by jumping from a building to rescue Leah, but her friend Evelyn stepped in at the last minute.

Annabelle Higgins in her final moments. She repossesses the doll, after drawing a cult symbol on the wall

Annabelle Higgins in her final moments. She repossesses the doll, after drawing a cult symbol on the wall

The Warrens acquired the Conjuring Annabelle after being asked to look into a case in which she was suspected of having a role. The woman and the young man who purchased the doll served as subjects. They said Annabelle had convinced them the soul of a little girl possessed her and that the doll had become a horror once they had let her move in. The Warrens said a demonic spirit possessed Annabelle, and the Warrens disclosed that the doll’s original plan was to take over the body of one of its owners. The Warrens took Annabelle in immediately and put her in an unbreakable glass container.

Bathsheba Sherman, a ghost associated with the Perron family’s haunting, freed Annabelle from her case three years later. Bathsheba wanted even with the Warrens for attempting to help the Warrens, so she went to their residence and set Annabelle free. Eventually, one of the ghosts threw a rocking chair at Judy, the Warrens’ little daughter, to finish the girl off. Ed came just in time to save Judy from imminent danger. After a while, Annabelle was inexplicably returned to her display case.

Who is Anabelle Higgins?

The name Annabelle Higgins is the name of Janice. Her parents, Samuel and Esther Mullins had just lost their daughter, Annabelle, and they opened their home to her and numerous other orphans. Mrs. Mullins confides in Sister Charlotte, the nun in charge of the orphans, that she and her husband attempted to contact their dead daughter Annabelle using mystical means but instead mistakenly called a demon that posed as their daughter.

They trapped it inside a doll they’d constructed to honor their daughter when it attacked. Janice, however, sneaked into Annabelle’s old room, where she discovered the doll and let the demon out. Possessed by the evil spirit, Janice attacked the other orphans and murdered the parents. She ran away, leaving the hollow doll behind. Possessed by the devil, she changed her name to “Annabelle” and found her way to a new orphanage, where she eventually met and was adopted by the Higgins.

A young Annabelle/Janice, who had joined the Disciples of the Ram, eventually returned with her cultist lover and attacked her adoptive parents.

How Annabelle Entered John and Mia’s life

By now, Annabelle, a teenager, hid her demonic possessions from her family and friends and fled away to join a secret society. She joined a satanic cult called the Disciples of the Ram, where she gave the devil greater power and even persuaded another cultist into becoming her “lover.” However, her parents and neighbors thought she had joined the hippies.

Annabelle and her boyfriend broke into her parent’s house two years after they’d left town. With the help of her lover, she killed her parents. Mia and John Form, their neighbors, heard the noise and came to their aid, but the two murderers had already slipped inside their homes.

Annabelle hid in the nursery and grabbed the doll she had been attached to in the past as her boyfriend attacked and stabbed the couple, including a pregnant Mia. Once the police came, they shot the boyfriend dead and broke down the nursery door to discover Annabelle dead, clutching the doll. She had committed suicide.

A drop of Annabelle’s blood fell into the doll’s eye when she died, possibly re-incorporating the evil she once housed.

Who are the Disciples of the Ram?

Annabelle, Annabelle: Creation, and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It all feature the same wicked group known as the Disciples of the Ram. They are a diabolical sect whose members pray to and seek power from Satan and other demons.

The two cultists were identified in the press as Disciples of the Ram members. Since the evil within Annabelle had been there for so long, it manifested itself in the doll and started scaring the Forms by pretending to be her ghost.

Annabelle Higgins in her final moments. She repossesses the doll, after drawing a cult symbol on the wall

Annabelle Higgins in her final moments. She repossesses the doll, after drawing a cult symbol on the wall

Mia goes to Detective Clarkin for assistance, and he gives her information about the cult and its methods. Later, Mia goes to her friend Evelyn for help; with her guidance, she investigates the cult and learns that the entity tormenting the family is a demon, not a ghost.

Loved reading this? Next, try the story of Petar Blagojević: The Serbian Vampire, or the tale of How the Nazis Escaped into the Center of the Earth

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Written By

Abin Tom Sebastian, also known as Mr. Morbid in the community, is an avid fan of the paranormal and the dark history of the world. He believes that sharing these stories and histories are essential for the future generations. For god forbid, we have seen that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

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1 Comment

  1. fx69ZHSSljHg

    January 22, 2023 at 5:20 pm


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