Barb Wright has collected dolls for years, but her latest acquisition took a dark turn.
She wasn’t looking for a new doll, but as she scrolled through her Facebook news feed, she saw a photo of Miss Irene, a limited edition collector’s item made by famous doll maker Maynard Arnette from the Arnette Country Store. Not only was the doll for sale, but it also came with an added bonus. It was haunted.
Being a paranormal investigator, Barb was certain she could handle the haunting, if there was one. A part of her wondered if the doll truly was haunted. From her experiences as an investigator, she knew that people’s emotions often dictated their reactions. If a doll looked haunted, people sometimes overreacted, believing there was more to it than there actually was. Miss Irene certainly fit the bill.
Standing twenty-eight inches tall, the doll was modeled after a prim and proper country schoolteacher, with a dour expression to match. Only 500 of the dolls were made, each stamped on the back with the issue number.
Soon after Barb brought the doll home, strange things began happening. The electricity became unstable, with lights turning off and on by themselves and light bulbs blowing out. When she held the doll, she felt uncomfortable as though she were crossing some invisible line.
Brushing off the uneasy thoughts, she removed the doll’s outfit to wash it, as she normally did with new dolls. She was alarmed at what she found. The doll’s arms were nearly ripped out of the sockets. Someone had attempted to repair the doll by taping the arms shut, but the beaded stuffing poured out from the holes. Once Barb stitched the arms back, she swore the doll’s energy became lighter. Even her expression changed from a staunch frown to a look of contentment. The electrical issues in the house slowed down to a random occurrence. It’s not surprising that the doll’s previous owner also experienced strange happenings.
Eric LaVoie acquired the doll from his wife’s friend, a woman who also collected dolls. After experiencing several peculiar events in her house, she was convinced the doll was haunted and asked Eric if he would take it. Being an experienced paranormal investigator, having founded the group D.A.R.T (Dartmouth Anomaly Research Team) in 2007, Eric gladly accepted the doll.
“This lady just did not like the doll and it always spooked her out. She would put the doll up and she always fell down, no matter where she placed her. She said other weird things would happen around the house, as well,” Eric said. She decided to sell the doll at a yard sale, but couldn’t find a buyer. She even listed it on eBay, but no one was interested. She thought she was stuck with the doll until Eric agreed to take ownership of it.
When the Miss Irene doll came into Eric’s house, his children weren’t comfortable with it, so he put it in a box in his basement. Not long afterwards, they began experiencing abnormal activity of their own.
His son’s room was directly above the basement area where the doll was kept. Several days later, they began having unexplained electrical disturbances. Lights turned on and off by themselves, and the bulbs in his son’s ceiling fan burst. Eric replaced them, only to have them blow out again. As soon as he sold the doll, the issues immediately ceased.
Ironically, it wasn’t the first haunted doll Eric owned. His first experience came when his wife was given a Shirley Temple collectable doll as a gift. They’d just moved into their first home in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, a house that was reported to be haunted. Built in 1920, the house seldom had a tenant that lasted more than four years.
Instead of being afraid, Eric was intrigued by the ghosts in his house and attempted to contact them through séances and Ouija Board sessions. Friends came over for overnight investigations, often reporting strange noises coming from the cabinet where the doll was housed.
“Someone would always say they heard noises near the cabinet during the night and thought that the Shirley Temple doll had moved. We would laugh and call them crazy until others said the same thing. To be honest, we thought they were messing with us,” he said.
Everything came to a head one night, though. They awoke to the sound of a loud bang in the room where the doll was on display. When they got up to investigate, they discovered their dog, a big black lab, staring into the room with the fur on the back of his neck hackled. They looked around, but couldn’t find any reason for the disturbance. The next morning, they noticed several of the dolls had fallen over inside the case. Eric picked up the Shirley Temple doll, surprised to discover that its eyes had changed overnight from brown to bright green. It was something he couldn’t explain. They eventually sold the doll, thinking they were finished with haunted dolls until Miss Irene showed up years later.
According to psychic medium Jessica Arael Marrocco, items can hold energy and create a haunting. She said, “Objects can be holding-places for ghosts if a human (typically a child) addresses the object with strong emotion or has an “invisible friend” that takes residence in the object.” This is especially applicable for items that are passed down in families. She also added, “Another possible contributing factor may be a home that is subject to dark energies through domestic violence, war, or mental illness. Deep emotion could invite a sympathetic entity to come and engage in a paranormal way.” Jessica experienced several situations where a spirit passed over, but chose to remain earthbound and took residence in an object, like a doll, so it could have a voice.
Barb still owns the Miss Irene doll and the electrical issues continue. At times, Barb finds the doll holding items that weren’t in its hands before. One morning, she awoke to find Miss Irene holding Barb’s Witch Fortune Cards. Another time she found the doll holding one of her stuffed animals. While the doll often gives people an uneasy vibe, Barb plans to keep it.
Miss Irene’s future is still unwritten. If the activity increases, Barb may be forced to pursue other options. Until then, she’s happy to provide the doll with a home.