Sometimes reality is stranger


Photo: Lan Gao

  • Adopt a haunted doll through this creepy toy-matching service

    Adopt a haunted doll through this creepy toy-matching service

    Ever wonder where you can adopt a haunted doll, something like Annabelle, or worse? Well there’s a market for that — a huge one, in fact — and haunted dolls are this year’s hottest trend.

    People are coughing up massive cash to get their hands on dolls with shady pasts. Dolls once considered unadoptable are now flying off shelves everywhere from London to Lubbock.

    Unsettling Toys, founded by Portland, Oregon couple Sara Derrickson and Brian Jilson, provides “rehoming” services to place haunted — or just plain creepy — dolls with new owners.

    After a consultation, the company matches you with a doll that fits your needs. You’ll learn about the doll’s history and determine if it’s a good fit. Then you’ll take it home and get acquainted with your new pal.

    One word of caution, though: some dolls have traumatic pasts, including owners who tried to burn them or dispose of them. So your haunted companion may need time to adapt.

    But the good news? The company also offers a toy removal service, so they’ll come fetch the doll from your home and place it with a new owner if the doll becomes too terrifying for your comfort.

    See the YouTube video by VICE TV to hear how the toy company operates.

    Then read about the Hummel that neighbors are blaming for one Tallahassee man’s disappearance.

  • Haunted porcelain doll unleashes F-bombs on Ohio family

    Haunted porcelain doll unleashes F-bombs on Ohio family

    When Jennifer and Patrick Rogers bought a porcelain doll from a New York street vendor, the antique toy looked innocent enough.

    The Columbus, Ohio natives named the doll Peter and wrapped him in a big red box for their daughter Samantha to open on her seventh birthday. Peter was a stern-looking schoolboy, about age 7 or 8, with steely blue eyes and an unsmiling gaze.

    “My husband didn’t care for him, but I thought he was pretty,” Jennifer says. “Besides, I felt bad for the poor vendor.”

    Jennifer couldn’t wait to give the doll to Samantha, but she soon discovered some gifts are best unsent.

    “Samantha loved the doll,” Jennifer says. “The first week went well, but things got weird fast.”

    It started with Samantha.

    “She’d wake me up in the middle of the night, sometimes sleepwalking into my room. Or she’d wake me up giggling, and I’d find her in her room chatting and brushing Peter’s hair.”

    Although pleased her daughter enjoyed her new toy, Jennifer couldn’t shake the feeling something was amiss.

    “Samantha said Peter asked her to brush his hair. I laughed, then told her to go to sleep, and Peter’s makeover would have to wait until morning.”

    But when Jennifer woke up to cook breakfast, she gasped. Peter was sitting in her husband’s seat at the table, and beside him was Samantha’s pink brush. He had a plate and a fork set out in front of him.

    “He looked like he was waiting to be served,” Jennifer says.

    Jennifer assumed her husband or daughter was playing a prank, but neither was awake. So Jennifer put Peter on the living room couch, then returned to cooking. But when she turned back around, there he was.

    creepy dolls
    Photo by Andrea Kraus-Wirth

    “Every time I’d put him in the living room, he’d return.”

    Over the next few days, Jennifer convinced herself there was a rational explanation. “Dolls don’t just show up for breakfast on their own or demand midnight makeovers,” she says.

    Most dolls, perhaps. But what happened next was more difficult to explain.

    “About a month after Samantha’s birthday, I woke up to something brushing against my feet,” Jennifer says. “When I sat up, Peter was at the edge of my bed, like he had crawled up there.”

    But that wasn’t the only thing that unsettled her.

    “His eyes were watching me, kind of glistening in the shadows,” she says. “I threw a pillow over him and switched the lamp on. Then I checked Samantha’s room, but she was asleep.”

    Other nights, Jennifer awoke to a boy giggling, prompting concern because Samantha was her only child.

    “Sometimes I’d wake up to someone snickering or scampering through the room, but no one was there,” Jennifer says. “Other times, Peter would pop up in my bathroom. Once, I saw Peter’s face pressed against the glass while I was showering, and I screamed.”

    Jennifer put Peter in the closet, but the doll reappeared on the banister. She sighs, then admits, “I almost called an exorcist.”

    spooky pic
    Photo by Aljoscha Laschgari on

    A few nights later, Jennifer woke up again to Samantha playing in her room.

    “I went to check on her, and she was brushing Peter’s hair again and chatting, but this time Peter was talking back.”

    Jennifer couldn’t believe it.

    “He sounded like your average talking doll, but porcelain dolls aren’t supposed to talk. I looked for a button that made him speak but found nothing. I asked Samantha how she got him to talk but she said he did it by himself.”

    That prompted Jennifer to comb the internet for answers.

    “I Googled ‘talking porcelain dolls’ and variations of that phrase, but nothing.”

    And another concern: “Peter said some words in English, but the rest was something else.”

    Terrified, Jennifer thought about what to do next.

    “We took Peter to my husband’s colleague who studies anthropology and ancient civilizations. That guy knows everything, so he was our best hope of figuring this out.”

    Sure enough, Patrick’s colleague Randall identified the mystery language.

    “I had to tickle Peter’s feet to get him to talk,” Jennifer says, “but then he started yapping.”

    Randall listened, then gasped. “My goodness. That’s Malagasy!”

    Malagasy is spoken in the picturesque African island nation Madagascar, located 250 miles off the East African coast.

    Photo by omersukrugoksu

    “But it’s what Peter said that bothered me,” Jennifer says.

    Randall didn’t care much for Peter’s messages either.

    Randall shudders as he recalls that day. “I had to listen closely to make sure I heard him right,” Randall says. “At first, I thought, this can’t be right. It’s too uncouth for a child’s toy.”

    In fact, Peter’s speech was so laden with Malagasy expletives, Randall had to write down the translation to share what the doll said. The content is unfit to share in its entirety, but Peter’s speech was loaded with the Malagasy equivalent of four-letter curse words, mostly one beginning with F.

    Photo by Beau Botschuijver on

    Some sentences concerned Randall for other reasons. “He made threats toward Jennifer,” Randall says, pulling his arms into his chest. “But I’ll never forget what he said next: ‘Next time Jennifer locks me in the closet, she’ll regret it.’”

    After they left Randall’s office, Jennifer and her husband drove in silence toward a less traveled part of town. They parked by the city bus stop, grabbed Peter, and trekked toward an empty bench.

    They exchanged a glance, set Peter on the bench and sprinted away.

    They haven’t seen the doll since.

    Next, read about the porcelain doll that grew human toenails and terrorized his owner.

    Then learn about the Hummel that neighbors are blaming for one Tallahassee man’s disappearance.

  • Hummel to blame for Tallahassee man’s disappearance, says neighbor

    Hummel to blame for Tallahassee man’s disappearance, says neighbor

    All you Hummel fans might want to think twice before buying your next figurine from a flea market. At least that’s what some Tallahassee, Florida residents are saying.

    It all began about two years ago.

    Brenda Torrance, 35, returned home from work January 17, 2020 to news that would change her life. Her brother Rodney Torrance, a 52-year-old Tallahassee native and part-time pizza delivery driver, vanished while working the late shift three nights prior.

    Brenda’s mother called her, panicked. “No one has seen him since that night,” Florence Torrance, 79, said, sobbing. “What do we do?”

    Brenda called the cops, prompting local media and law enforcement to investigate.

    More than two years have passed since then, but Tallahassee residents remain on guard. Others are just plain mystified.

    Today, Tygan Moore, 27, the last customer to see Rodney the night he disappeared, tells investigators he’s baffled. When asked about that fateful night, Tygan shrugs and says, “Dude delivered my sausage supreme. Gave him a fat tip. Where the [expletive] did he go?”

    One unnamed investigator shares Moore’s confusion.

    “Sometimes people decide they want to start over, build a new life,” says the investigator. “They just up and leave.”

    But more than two years have passed since Rodney vanished, and some residents aren’t so sure. Rumors have swirled around town that sinister forces are to blame.

    One former neighbor Peggy Jane, 44, doesn’t hold back. “I heard a Hummel did it.”

     When asked to clarify, Peggy averts her gaze. “Ask Florence.”

    As it turns out, Rodney was an avid Hummel figurine collector, amassing more than 110 of the collectible statuettes in a floor-to-ceiling glass case that still occupies Rodney’s living room. One figurine—a ruddy-complected Bavarian boy in a green cap and mittens—stands out.

    “That thing creeps me out,” Florence says, shuddering. “Something about his eyes. They just stare a little too intently. I never cared for that thing, but Rodney loved it.”

    Brenda shares her mother’s sentiment. “I hate it.”

    The doll’s questionable history could be one reason.

    “Rodney bought that figurine from a flea market, ” Florence says, sighing. “Even the lady who sold it to him tried to warn Rodney it was haunted. But Rodney thought it was cool, of course.”

    Brenda shakes her head, then shudders, glaring at the cherry-cheeked figurine.

    But life took a dark turn after Rodney brought the figurine home.

    “Weird things started happening,” Florence says, frowning. “Two days after he bought the doll, he’d wake up to shuffling sounds and a child giggling. He’d go in the living room to get some water, and the doll case would be open even though he kept it locked.”

    The first time that happened, Rodney spotted the figurine standing by the sink.

    “It was just sitting on the counter,” Florence says, “but Rodney didn’t put it there. No one lived with him or had access to his house. And even if they did, who would do that?”

    Then life took a stranger turn.

    “A week later,” Florence says, “Rodney started getting knocks on the door late at night. Sometimes one or two in the morning. He’d answer, but no one was there.”

    That’s when the nightmares started.

    “The Hummel would appear in Rodney’s dreams, laughing or speaking in tongues,” says Florence.

    In one dream, the creature chased Rodney with a knife. “Rodney woke up in a cold sweat.”

    Florence pauses, taking a deep breath. “Sometimes Rodney woke up to see the figurine on his nightstand. My son was a big bear of a man — husky and six foot four — but he called me crying, he was so scared.”

    Rodney would lock the figurine in its case only to have it reappear at his bedside hours later. He even threw it away, but it returned.

    “He couldn’t get rid of it,” Florence says.

    But after two years, Florence admits she has lost hope. She pauses in somber reflection, thinking back on the past. Then her voice drops. “I have no doubt that doll was involved in my son’s disappearance,” she says. “Let’s just say I’ve had dreams, too.”

    Next, read about the foul-mouthed porcelain doll who unleashed F-bombs on one Ohio family.

  • Haunted Elsa doll sings in English and Spanish

    Haunted Elsa doll sings in English and Spanish

    When you think of haunted dolls, you probably imagine those creepy Victorian porcelain dolls clad in ruffled dresses. But those aren’t the dolls we’re dealing with in this true life Houston, Texas ghost tale.

    Last month, an Elsa doll, modeled after the Disney Frozen character, stole headlines when she seemed to come to life. Now some say Elsa is possessed.

    According to KPRC2 Houston News, the doll was well behaved until one night when she began spouting lines from Frozen, even bursting into song. Then, when one of the children pressed the button on Elsa’s necklace, the doll belted out “Let It Go.”

    According to the mother Emily Madonia, Elsa repeated this pattern for two years, first reciting movie lines in English, then in Spanish.

    “The doll was bilingual,” Madonia says. “There wasn’t even a button that was changed. She just did it on her own.”

    Madonia says the doll continued speaking and singing even though the family hadn’t changed its battery in six years. Yet without fail, Elsa would burst into speech and song without warning, often late at night. But fear turned to terror when Elsa continued singing even after the family removed her battery.

    The Madonia family had to act fast.

    They threw the doll in the trash, assuming they were done with the infernal creature for good. But just when they thought their Christmas nightmare had ended, they received the shock of their lives. The Madonia family returned home to find Elsa perched on the living room sofa, her lips pursed in calm repose.

    Madonia says she believes her kids, who swear they didn’t fetch the doll from the trash. “They wouldn’t have dug through the garbage,” she says.

    Days later, Elsa stopped singing in English and began belting out “Let It Go” in Spanish. That’s when the family double-wrapped the doll in trash bags and buried it at the bottom of their garbage heap.

    But terror shot through them when they returned home from a trip and found Elsa waiting. The doll sat on their porch, mischief dancing in her onyx marble eyes.

    This time, the family boxed up Elsa and shipped her to a friend in Minnesota, who promptly duct-taped the doll to the bumper of his pickup truck. So far, Elsa hasn’t returned to Texas, according to Madonia’s latest Facebook update.

    Let’s hope for the best.

    Read more about the bilingual haunted Elsa doll here.

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