The Real Story of the ‘Haunted’ Annabelle Doll

She said her name was Annabelle Higgins.

The real Annabelle doll (right) looks nothing like the doll used in the Annabelle movies.

Annabelle was a famous haunted doll even before she made an appearance in The Conjuring that turned into her very own horror movie, Annabelle (2014), and subsequent sequel/origin story, Annabelle: Creation (2017), and third installment Annabelle Comes Home (2019). A pair of fame hungry paranormal investigators named Ed and Lorraine Warren told a story about a Raggedy Ann doll given to a young nurse by her mother. The doll turned out to be demonic and was capable of writing menacing notes for the girl and her roommate was well as scratching the girls and even running from room to room.

Of The Demonologist, the biography of Ed and Lorraine Warren, actress Vera Farmiga (who plays Lorraine Warren in the Conjuring films) said “It scared the daylights out of me. Profoundly. The preface insists that it is not dangerous to read and that ‘knowledge is power.’ Whatever. I felt a sense of terror every time I cracked it open. I never read the book in the sanctity of my home. I could only read it in flight, funnily enough. Somehow I felt safeguarded in an airplane.”

Here is Ed and Lorraine Warren’s Annabelle origin story as told by their longtime biographer Gerald Brittle in The Demonologist:

Lara Clifton and Dierdre Bernard were 25-year-old nurses who lived together. Lara was engaged to a man named Cal Randell. For Dierdre’s 24th birthday, her mother gave her a large Raggedy Ann doll, “the size of a four year old child”. Soon after, the girls noticed that the doll seemed to be able to move on her own as they would frequently find her in different positions or even rooms than they left her. Once the girls left the Annabelle doll on Dierdre’s bed and came home and found the doll kneeling in the living room. They tried to recreate the doll’s kneeling position and were not able to make the doll kneel without it falling over.

Then they started finding the notes.

The girls believed the Annabelle doll was writing them messages. They’d find little scraps of paper with pencil writing that said things like “HELP US” and “HELP CAL”. They had no idea what either message referred to, Lara’s boyfriend Cal was not in danger at that time. Especially creepy was that the girls could not find a pencil in the apartment that could have been used for the notes.

Annabelle Comes Home (2019) shows a fictional version of the doll in a glass case in the Warren’s occult museum.

The girls thought someone was playing a prank on them so they created little boobytraps and markers that would be off if someone was entering their apartment. When no evidence of an intruder was found and “Annabelle’s actions” got scarier (one day, they found drops of blood on the doll, they also believe the doll gave them a gift of chocolate for Christmas) they brought in a medium.

The psychic told the nurses that a little girl died on the property where their apartment was and her name was Annabelle Higgins. The ghost of the little girl liked the nurses because they were the only younger people in the building, so the ghost began “playing” with them by moving the doll. The little girl ghost said she was lonely and wanted to be loved. She asked the girls if she could inhabit the doll so that she could live with them. The girls said yes.

According to the Warrens, this was a huge mistake. They said that the girls should never have called a medium who was so inexperienced in dealing with malevolent spiritual matters that she ended up harming the girls more than she helped them. By invited the spirit to inhabit the Annabelle doll, the girls inadvertently invited a demonic presence into their lives.

In reality, there was no Annabelle Higgins. No ghost of a little girl who used to live in the building. What the girls met (according to the Warrens) was an inhumane spirit, also known as a demonic entity, the Warrens say human ghosts are not able to move objects or harm the living. Indeed the doll’s activities increased and she seemed to become more powerful. Lara’s boyfriend, Cal, had lucid nightmares about Annabelle attacking him. One night when Lara and Cal were alone in the apartment, they heard a noise coming from Dierdre’s room. When Cal went to investigate, he saw Annabelle and when he turned his back on her “someone” clawed his chest, leaving 7 claw marks and bloodying his shirt.

Of course, this is just what the Warren’s tell us. It might be a more “real” version of Annabelle’s creation story than her Hollywood movie Annabelle: Creation, but that’s not saying much. The “real” story involves whatever the Warrens told each other and their biographer. Was this story cooked up over a few bottles of wine like those involved in the Amityville Haunting claim that story was?

The Warrens called a priest and the priest performed an exorcism on the apartment as well as Dierdre, Lara and Cal. The Warrens took the Annabelle doll for safe keeping and kept her locked in a glass case in their occult museum, which was the main draw for visitors during its existence. Now that Ed and Lorraine are both deceased, their daughter and son-in-law (pictured above) have possession of the Annabelle doll.

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Meet The Author

Chrissy is the co-founder of Creepy Catalog. She has over 10 years of experience writing about horror, a degree in philosophy and Reiki level II certification.

Chrissy Stockton