This is a terrifying case of a raggedy Ann doll named Annabelle. The case is from the 1970’s and is highlighted in the book The Demonologist. This is one of the Warrens most asked about cases. The referral came from an Episcopal priest. A somber toned clergyman told Ed Warren of two young nurses who had communicated with what they thought to be a human spirit. One of the girls’ friends had been attacked physically, and the activity was still in progress, so Ed accepted the case. With that the priest gave Ed the phone number of the girls. Ed immediately called the number and upon reaching one of the girls, Ed verified the existence of the problem and told the young women that he and Lorraine were on their way.
Ed and Lorraine arrived at the apartment and the case begins. Ok girls, I’d like to hear the whole story, Who here can tell me? I can said Donna. All right, Lou, Angie, please add any details she leaves out, Ed directed. There are two stories, Donna said. One that began earlier in the week with Lou. The other one’s about Annabelle. But I suppose they’re both about Annabelle. Who’s Annabelle? Ed promptly asked. She belongs to Donna, she moves, she acts alive, but no, I don’t think she’s alive. She’s in the living room said Angie, pointing across the table. There, sitting on the sofa. Lorraine looked to her left, into the living room. Are you talking about the doll? That’s right, Angie replied, the big raggedy Ann doll. That’s Annabelle, she moves! Ed got up and walked into the living room to inspect the doll. It was big and heavy, the size of a four-year-old child, sitting with its legs stretched out on the sofa. The black pupil-less eyes stared back at him, while the painted-on smile gave the doll an expression of grim irony.
Looking it over without touching the thing, Ed then returned to the kitchen. Where did the doll come from? Ed asked Donna. It was a gift Donna replied, My mother gave it to me on my last birthday. Is there some reason why she bought you a doll? Ed wanted to know. No. It was just something novel-a decoration the young nurse answered. Okay. Ed went on. When did you first start noticing activity occur? About a year ago, replied Donna. The doll started to move around the apartment by itself. I don’t mean it got up and walked around, or any such thing. I mean when we’d come home from work it would never be quite where we left it. Explain that part to me a little more Ed requested. After I got the doll for my birthday, Donna explained, I put it on my bed each morning after the bed was made. The arms would be off to its sides and its legs would be straight out-just like it’s sitting there now. But when we’d come home at night, the arms and legs would be positioned in different gestures. For instance, its legs would be crossed at the ankles, or its arms would be folded in its lap. After a week or so, this made us suspicious. So to test it, I purposely crossed its arms and legs in the morning to see if it really was moving. And sure enough, every night when we’d come back home, the arms and legs would be uncrossed and the thing would be sitting there in any of a dozen different postures. Yeah, but it did more than that, Angie added. The doll also changed rooms by itself. We came home one night and the Annabelle doll was sitting in a chair by the front door. It was kneeling! The funny thing about it was, when we tried to make the doll kneel, it’d just fall over. It couldn’t kneel. Other times we’d find it sitting on the sofa, although when we left the apartment in the morning it’d be in Donna’s room with the door closed! Anything else? Lorraine asked. Yes, said Donna. It would leave us little notes and messages. The handwriting looked to be that of a small child. What’d the note say? questioned Ed. It would say things that meant nothing to us, Donna answered. Things would be written like HELP US or HELP LOU, but Lou wasn’t in any kind of jeopardy at the time. And who us was-we didn’t know. Still, the thing that was weird was that the notes would be written in pencil, but when we tried to find one, there was not one pencil in the apartment! And the paper it wrote on was parchment. I tore the apartment apart, looking for parchment paper, but again neither of us had any such thing.” It sounds like someone had a key to your apartment and was playing a sick joke on you, Ed stated flatly. That’s exactly what we thought, said Donna. So we did little things like put marks on the windows and doors or arrange the rugs so that anyone who came in here would leave a trace that we could see. But never once did it turn out that there was a real outside intruder.
While the doll was moving around, and we’d become suspicious of burglars, when something else screwy happened. Angie added next. The Annabelle doll was sitting on Donna’s bed, as was usual. When we came home one night, there was blood on the back of its hand, and there were three drops of blood on its chest! God, that really scared us, Donna said frankly. Did you notice any other kind of phenomena occur in the apartment? Ed asked them. One time around Christmas, we found a little chocolate boot on the stereo that none of us had bought. Presumably it came from Annabelle, said Angie. When did you come to determine there was a spirit associated with the doll? Lorraine questioned. We knew something unusual was going on, Donna answered. The doll did change rooms by itself. It did pose in different gestures, we all saw it, but wanted to know why? Was there maybe some plausible reason why the doll was moving? So Angie and I got in touch with a woman who’s a medium. That was about a month, or maybe six weeks after all this stuff started to happen. We learned that a little girl died on this property, Donna told the Warrens. She was seven years old and her name was Annabelle Higgins. The Annabelle spirit said she played in the fields long ago before these apartments were built. They were happy times for her, she told us. Because everyone around here was grown-up, and only concerned with their jobs, there was no one she could relate to, except us. Annabelle felt that we would be able to understand her. That’s why she began moving the rag doll. All Annabelle wanted was to be loved, and so she asked if she could stay with us and move into the doll. What could we do? So we said yes. Wait a minute here, Ed interjected. What do you mean it wanted to move into the doll? Do you mean it proposed to possess it? Right, that was the understanding, Donna replied. I t seemed harmless enough. We’re nurses, you know, we see suffering every day. We had compassion. Anyway, we called the doll Annabelle from that time on. Did you do anything different with the doll after you learned it was supposedly possessed by a little girl spirit named Annabelle? asked Lorraine. Not really, said Donna. But of course it wasn’t just a doll any more. It was Annabelle. We couldn’t ignore that fact.
All right, before you go any further, let’s back up a minute, Ed requested. First you got the doll for you birthday. After a while the doll began to move – or at least change places enough for you to notice it. T his made you curious, so you decided to have a séance, and a spirit came across that called itself Annabelle Higgins. This supposed little girl was seven years old and asked if it could come live with you by possessing the toy doll. You said yes, out of compassion. Then you renamed the doll Annabelle. Right? Right, said Donna and Angie. Have you seen the ghost of a little girl at any time in this apartment? Ed asked. No, both the girls answered. You also said a chocolate item showed up here once, said Ed. Has anything else strange ever happened that you couldn’t explain? One time a statue lifted up across the room, Donna recalled, then it tumbled in the air and fell on the floor. None of us were near the statue-it was on the other side of the room. That incident frightened us totally. Let me ask you something else. Ed went on. Didn’t you think that maybe you shouldn’t have given the doll so much recognition? It wasn’t a doll! Donna corrected him. It was the spirit of Annabelle we cared about! That’s right, said Angie. Ed added I mean, before you knew anything about Annabelle? How were we to know anything? Donna asked. But looking back on it now, maybe we shouldn’t have given the doll so much credence. But really, we saw the thing as being no more than a harmless mascot. I t never hurt anything . . . at least until the other day. Do you still think what’s moving the doll is the spirit of a little girl? Lorraine queried. What else could it be? Angie said in reply. It’s a damn voodoo doll, that’s what it is, Lou blurted out. I told them about that thing a long time ago. The doll was just taking advantage of them.
Okay, Lou, I think it’s time you told your side of things, tell them about the dreams, coaxed Angie. Well, Lou picked up, the thing gives me bad dreams. Recurrent ones. But yet what I’m going to tell you is not a dream as far as I’m concerned, because I somehow saw this happen to me. The last time it happened I fell asleep at home, a really deep sleep. While I was lying there, I saw myself wake up. Something seemed wrong to me. I looked around the room, but nothing was out of place. But then when I looked down toward my feet, I saw the rag doll, Annabelle. It was slowly gliding up my body. It moved over my chest and stopped. Than it put its arms out. One arm touched one side of my neck, the other touched the other side like it was making an electrical connection. Then I saw myself being strangled. I might as well have been pushing on a wall, because it wouldn’t move. It was literally strangling me to death, I couldn’t help myself, no matter how hard I tried. Yes, but the priest I spoke with said you’d been attacked? Ed pressed him. No, Lou asserted, that happened here in this apartment when Angie and I were alone together. It was about ten or eleven o’clock at night, and we were reading over maps because I was going off on a trip the next day. Everything was quiet at the time. Suddenly, we both heard sounds in Donna’s room that made us think that someone had broken into the apartment. I quietly got up and tip-toed to the bedroom door, which was closed. I waited until the noises stopped, then I carefully opened the door and reached in and switched on the light. Nobody was in there! Except, the Annabelle doll was tossed on the floor in a corner. I went in alone and walked over to the thing to see if anything unusual had happened. But as I got close to the doll, I got the distinct impression that somebody was behind me. I swung around instantly and, well . . . He won’t talk about that part, Angie said. When Lou turned around there wasn’t anybody there, but he suddenly yelled and grabbed for his chest. He was doubled over, cut and bleeding when I got to him. Blood was all over his shirt. Lou was shaking and scared and we went back out into the living room. We then opened his shirt and there on his chest was what looked to be sort a of claw mark!
Can I see the mark? Ed asked. It’s gone now, the young man told him. I saw the cuts on his chest, too, Donna spoke up in support. How many were there? Ed asked. Seven, said Angie. Three were vertical, four were horizontal. Did the cuts have any sensation? Ed queried. All the cuts were hot, like they were burns, Lou told him. Did you ever have cuts or wounds in the same area of your chest before this incident happened? questioned Ed. No, the young man replied. Did you lose consciousness before or after the attack took place? No, again he replied. How long did it take the wounds to heal? Lorraine questioned. They healed up almost immediately, said Lou. They were half-gone the next day, and fully gone the day after. Has anything else happened since that time? asked Ed. No, came the joint reply. Who did you first contact after the incident occurred? I contacted an Episcopal priest named Father Hegan Donna told Ed and Lorraine. Why did you call him instead of a doctor? Lorraine asked. Do you think someone off the street would have believed where that claw mark on Lou’s chest came from? Donna asked rhetorically. Besides, we agreed the cuts weren’t half as important as how Lou got them.
We wanted to know if this was going to happen again. Our problem was who to ask. Was there some reason why you specifically called on Father Hegan? Lorraine questioned. Yes. We trust him, said Donna. He teaches nearby here, at a junior college, plus Angie and I both know him. What did you tell the priest? asked Ed. The whole story-about Annabelle and how it moved on its own, and especially about Lou’s cuts, Donna replied. At first we were afraid he might not believe us, but that was no problem, he believed us all right. He said he’d never heard of such a thing happening these days. At the time we were all scared out of our wits, and I asked him what he thought had happened to us. He said he didn’t want to speculate, but he did feel it was a spiritual matter, possibly an important one, and that he was going to contact someone higher up in the Church, a Father Cooke. That’s what he did, Ed told her. Did the name Annabelle, or Annabelle Higgins mean anything to you in real life before this incident occurred? No, they replied. Although we never saw anything in here, Lou said he felt a presence in the room before he got hurt . . . there is something in here, Angie stated firmly. In fact, I can’t stand to be here. We have decided to get a new apartment. We’re moving out! I’m afraid that’s not going to help very much, Ed said dryly. What do you mean? Donna asked, astonished. To put it in a nutshell, you inadvertently brought a spirit into this apartment-and into your lives. You’re not going to be able to walk away from it that easily.
After a long minute, Ed spoke again. We’re going to help you, beginning right now. Today. First thing I’d like to do is call Father Cooke and have him come over here. Ed had no trouble getting hold of the Episcopal priest who had been waiting for his call. All right, Ed said when Father Cooke comes here, he’s going to have to perform a sort of blessing, an . . . exorcism of the premises. I knew it! Lou proclaimed. I knew it would lead to this. Yes, I think you did, Ed told him but I’m not sure any of you know the reason why. To begin with, there is no Annabelle! There never was. You were duped. However, we are dealing with a spirit here. The teleportation of the doll while you were out of the apartment, the appearance of notes written on parchment, the manifestation of three symbolic drops of blood, plus the gestures the doll made are all meaningful. They tell me there was intent, which means there was an intelligence behind the activity. But ghosts, human spirits, plain and simply can’t bring on phenomena of this nature and intensity. They don’t have the power. Instead, what has happened is something inhuman has taken over here. Demonic. Ed told them. Ordinarily people aren’t bothered by inhuman demonic spirits, unless they do something to bring the force into their lives. Your first mistake was to give the doll recognition, that is the reason why the spirit moved into the doll to, draw attention to itself. Once it had your attention, it exploited you, it simply brought you fear and even injury. Inhuman spirits, enjoy inflicting pain, it’s negative. Your next mistake was calling in a medium, Ed went on. The demonic has to somehow get your permission to interfere in your life. Unfortunately, through your own free will, you gave it that permission.
Then the doll is possessed? questioned Donna. No, the doll is not possessed. Spirits don’t possess things, spirits possess people, Ed informed her. Instead, the spirits simply moved the doll around and gave it the illusion of being alive. Now, what happened to Lou earlier this week Ed proceeded, was bound to occur sooner or later. In fact, you all were in jeopardy of coming under possession by this spirit, this is what the thing was really after. But Lou didn’t believe in the charade, so he was an ongoing threat to the entity. There was bound to be a showdown. Had the spirit been given another week or two, you might have been killed. Ed calmly concluded. There is only one entity involved, but its behavior is completely unpredictable, said Lorraine.
When Father Cooke arrived, the interview session ended in the kitchen, Ed was eager to have the house blessed, remove the doll, and return home. Once the preliminary greetings were out of the way, Ed told the priest, that in his judgment, the spirit responsible for the malicious activity was inhuman, and still in the apartment, and the only way it could be made to leave was through the power of the words written in the exorcism-blessing. I’m not totally familiar with demonology, admitted Father Cooke. How do you know such a spirit is behind the disturbance? Well, in this case, it wasn’t all that difficult to determine. Ed said frankly. These spirits work in characteristic ways. What’s going on here is essentially the infestation stage of the phenomenon. A spirit, in this case an inhuman demonic spirit, began moving the doll around the apartment through teleportation and other means. Once it aroused the girls’ curiosity which was the spirit’s purpose in moving the doll-they made the predictable mistake of bringing a medium in here, who took matters a step further. She told them, in the trance state, that a little girl spirit named Annabelle was moving the doll. Communicating through the medium, the entity preyed on the girls’ emotional vulnerabilities, and during the séance managed to extract permission from them to go about its business. Insofar as demonic is a negative spirit, it then set about causing patently negative phenomena to occur; it aroused fear through the weird movements of that doll, it brought about the materialization of disturbing handwritten notes, it left a residue of blood on the doll, and ultimately it even struck the young man, Lou, on the chest leaving a bloody claw mark. Beyond the activity, Lorraine has also discerned that this inhuman spirit is with us now. Lorraine’s an excellent clairvoyant, and she’s never been wrong about the nature of a spirit that’s present. However, if you want to go a step further, we can challenge the entity right now with religious provocation?
In this case, the recitation of the exorcism-blessing took the priest about five minutes to perform. The Episcopal blessing of the home is a wordy, seven page document that is distinctly positive in nature. Rather than specifically expelling evil entities from the dwelling, the emphasis is instead directed toward filling the home with the power of the positive and of God. There was no trouble or mishap during the procedure. When he was finished, the priest the blessed the individuals who were present, and after doing so, declared all was well. Lorraine also confirmed that the apartment and people were free from the spirit entity. Ed and Lorraine’s work was done, they then took their leave and started for home. At Donna’s request, and as a further precaution against the phenomena ever occurring in the home again, the Warrens took the big rag doll along with them. Placing Annabelle in the back seat of the car, Ed decided it was safer to avoid traveling on the interstate, in case the entity had not been separated from the rag doll. His hunch was correct. In no time at all, Ed and Lorraine felt themselves the object of vicious hatred. Then, at each dangerous curve in the road, their new car began to stall, causing the power steering and breaks to fail. Repeatedly the car verged on collision. Of course, it would have been easy to stop and throw the doll into the woods. But if the item didn’t simply teleport back to the girls’ apartment, at the least it would place anyone who found it in jeopardy.
The third time the car stalled along the road, Ed reached into his black bag, took out a vial, and threw a sprinkling of holy water on the rag doll, making the sign of the cross over it. The disturbance in the car stopped immediately, allowing the Warrens to reach home safely.
For the next few days, Ed sat the doll in a chair next to his desk. The doll levitated a number of times in the beginning, then it seemed to fall inert. During the ensuing weeks, however, it began showing up in various rooms of the house. When the Warrens were away and had the doll locked up in the outer office building, they would often return to find it sitting comfortably upstairs in Ed’s easy chair when they opened the main front door.
It also turned out that Annabelle came with a friend, a black cat, who would occasionally materialize beside the doll. The cat would stalk once around the floor, taking particular notice of books and other objects in Ed’s office; then return to the doll’s side, and dematerialize from the head down. It also became apparent that Annabelle hated clergymen. During the follow-up process of the case, it was necessary for the Warrens to consult the Episcopal priests associated with the incident in the young nurses’ apartment. Returning home alone one evening, Lorraine was terrified by loud, rolling growls that reverberated throughout the house. Later, when she was listening to the playback of the telephone answering machine, they were back to back calls from Father Hagen. Between his two calls was heard the incredible growling noises she’d heard earlier in the house. One day Father Jason Branford, Catholic exorcist, had been working with Ed and asked about the new addition to the office-Annabelle. Ed told Father Jason about the case and gave him the paperwork for his review. After hearing Ed’s account of want had happened, the priest picked up the rag doll and said You’re just a rag doll, Annabelle. You can’t hurt anything. T he priest then tossed the stuffed figure back on the chair. That’s one thing you better not say again, Ed warned him with a laugh. Yet when Father Jason stopped to say goodbye to Lorraine an hour later, she pleaded that he be especially careful driving, and insisted that he call her just as soon as he arrived at the rectory. I discerned tragedy for that young priest, says Lorraine, but he had to go his way. A few hours later the telephone rang. Lorraine said Father Jason, why did you tell me to be careful driving? Because, she told him, I felt your car would go out of control, you would have an accident. Well, you were right, he stated flatly. The brake system failed. I was almost killed in a traffic accident. My car is a wreck.
Later in the year, at a large social gathering at the Warrens’ home, Lorraine and Father Jason went into the den to chat for a few moments. By a strange coincidence, Annabelle had moved into that room the day before. While speaking with Lorraine, the priest saw an ornamental wall decoration make a quick movement. Suddenly, the twenty-four inch long Boar’s tooth necklace above them exploded with percussive force. Hearing this stunning noise, the other guests immediately converged on the room, at which time someone in the crowd had the foresight to snap a photograph. When developed, the print appeared normal, except above the doll were two beacons of bright light, both pointing in the direction of Father Jason Bradford.
On another occasion, Ed recounts, I was in my office, working with a police detective on a case that concerned a witchcraft related murder in the area. As a cop he’s seen every kind of crime, he’s definitely not the sort of man who gets scared. While we were talking, Lorraine called me upstairs to take a long distance call. I told the detective he was free to look around my office, but to be careful and not touch any of the objects, because they’d come from cases where the demonic had been invoked. Well, I wasn’t away for five minutes when upstairs came this detective stark white. When I asked him what had happened, he refused to tell me, Ed remembers, breaking into a grin. He just kept mumbling ‘The doll, the rag doll is real….’ He was talking about Annabelle of course. T hat little doll made a believer out of him! In fact, as I think back on it, any meetings I’ve had with the detective from that day on have always been in his office.
Profane objects like the Annabelle doll have their own aura. When you touch them, your human aura mingles with theirs. This change attracts spirits, it’s almost like setting off a fire alarm. Therefore, for protection, I bless myself with holy water then ‘bless’ the rag doll with holy water in the sign of the cross. Like I say when we’re doing field work I’ve never met an atheist in a haunted house.
It’s difficult for people to accept the existence of something they’ve been conditioned not to believe in. Still, lack of knowledge allowed this negative spirit to wrangle it way into the lives of these three unwary young people. Many, nevertheless, contend that the notion of spirits is irrational or unfounded. They say the phenomenon is an illusion, or a hallucination, or it doesn’t exist at all. At best, the activity can be explained away by science. Or can it?