Home » Episodes » Episode 35 – Chicago, IL & Key West, FL (Coffins: Buy One, Get One Free)

On Episode 35 of Horrible History, Emily takes us to Chicago to learn about one of the true stories behind the murderess row (inspiration for Chicago the musical). We learn about Tillie Klimek, a black widow and all-around shitty person that loved arsenic! Then Rachel creeps us all out by sharing the story of Robert Gene Otto, a little boy (and eventual man) that had a weird relationship with a haunted doll. Hopefully, you’re horrified.

Trigger Warnings: Child Death, Hauntings


Rachel 0:14
Hi, welcome to horrible history. I’m Rachel Everett-Lozon.

Emily 0:17
And I’m Emily Barlean. How are you today? Love?

Rachel 0:20
I am excited. We have some administrative stuff. So first, we need to thank a couple of new patrons. This week we had Brit is finally a patron.

Emily 0:32
Hey, Brit!

Rachel 0:35
You’ve been kind of an honorary patron, but not really because we need to get paid. So thank you.

Emily 0:43
We love you.

Rachel 0:44
Just kidding. And we also have Mike, who has been so funny. He basically sent us a message and was like, You finally wore me down. And he says this a story request, which I’m really excited to get to. probably in the next month, maybe two months. We’ve had a lot of store requests lately.

Emily 1:02
Just great. Yeah. So here’s hoping we get more people worn down over the course of the next few weeks.

Rachel 1:09
Yeah. patreon.com/horriblehistory.

Emily 1:12
Yeah, and one way that we may be able to entice you so another very exciting thing. We are launching our website this week.

Rachel 1:25
It is all Emily’s blood, sweat, tears. Criminal Minds fandom. Yes, yeah. hours of criminal Minds.

Emily 1:34
hours. hours. Yes. So we put together a website and it will get you access to all the episodes transcripts of the episodes if you so happen to want to go back and read what we say. Honestly, that’s for new listeners more than anything. We’re searchable. We’re searchable what what, what SEOs marketing loser over here. I was like

Rachel 2:00
I don’t know what that means. Search…Engine

Emily 2:02
Optimization girl.

Rachel 2:04
Yeah, I was like OPA,

Emily 2:07
search engine opa. What I think is most important for all of you listeners though to know about the website is we have MERCH Baby got MERCH

Rachel 2:20
It’s so cute, too.

Emily 2:22
Oh my gosh, really cute merch. I’m obsessed with it. I’ve keep ordering.

Rachel 2:26
Yeah, I ordered. So I ordered a morbid curious racerback tank which hopefully will be here this week. And sweat pants as well. That say morbid curious. And then I ordered. There are these really cute cutting boards and I got a wooden cutting board the large one of course with the handle and it says Italian case.

Emily 2:51
And I got a wine tumbler that says hopefully you’re horrified and a little bit tipsy, which I posted on the Instagram so you may have seen it there. And there’s a ton more stuff you guys. fanny packs, sweatshirts, hats, notebooks, like all kinds of good stuff. Yeah,

Rachel 3:09
we have a humble brag notebook. So you can write down all of your humble Brad’s – I mean humble brads… and Brad’s over here. Humble brag about humble brad.

Emily 3:22
And a humble brag mugs series, which I’m like pretty obsessed with and it says things like humble brag. I’m a hypochondriac. And like, humble brag. I have crippling anxiety.

Rachel 3:33
I’m hypoglycemic I pass out all the time. Yeah.

Emily 3:38
So if you have any suggestions for other humble brags that you would like us to make into mugs, we’re happy to do that. But yeah, check it out shop, the merch. And for our patrons, we will have 5% off for $5 patrons and 10% off our $10 patrons. So go look on Patreon and you will be able to get your code there to put in a checkout. So you can we’re stoics Yeah.

Rachel 4:03
So excited. Okay, admin shit out of the way. Boom. Where are you going this week?

Chapter 1 – Chicago, IL

Emily 4:10
Well, lady, I’m going to Chicago. And I know we’ve been to Chicago already. Listen,

Rachel 4:17
Emily’s a repeat traveler. That’s what it is you I’m just telling it like it is. Yep. Just keep going the places

Emily 4:23
Listen. I pick my story. And then I look at where it is. And I’m like, Oh, man.

So normally I would share info obviously about the place we’re traveling to. We’ve been to Chicago a few times. So I’m not really going to belabor the point. Instead, I’m going to share a little extra info on a different Chicago, Chicago the musical, which Oh, don’t worry, it applies. So okay, the original Broadway production of Chicago because it was originally a theatre production on Broadway opened In 1975, and ran for 936 performances until 1977. Then there was like a big break. And then it was revived in 1996.

Rachel 5:12
Catherine Zeta Jones!

Emily 5:13
Nope, that’s not that’s not it. We’re still on Broadway here. So and that Broadway production holds the record. It’s the second longest running show to ever run on Broadway, behind the Phantom of the Opera.

Rachel 5:28
Love Phantom of the Opera.

Emily 5:29
I know it surpassed cats in 2014 when it played it’s 7486 performance. I knew and it also became one of the longest running American musicals in West End, which is London’s version of Broadway. So it’s of course been staged, numerous productions around the world toured extensively, and then it was made into a film in 2002.

Rachel 6:01
that’s the Catherine Zeta Jones one.

Emily 6:04
and Richard Gere and Renee Zellweger, and the movie was nominated for six Oscars including Best Picture which it won. And Catherine Zeta Jones won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress Okay, and quick aside. Richard Gere won an award for his performance that made me laugh. He won Best breakaway performance at the AARP movies for grownups awards, which definitely sounds made up but it is.

Rachel 6:34
Old people are all, look one of us Richard Gere has had white hair forever if you go it’s like Richard Gere and Steve Martin are the only ones who win anything.

Emily 6:45
I know it was like movies for grownups awards. I kind of feel like they could have tried harder with the name.

Rachel 6:51
Well, I guess they can’t call it adult films.

Emily 6:54
Oh, boy, Rachel. Absolutely. Also, I’m just gonna pause now to say so sorry, to all the listeners. If you’re feeling like I sound funny. I’ve been super super sick for like, over a week now. Yeah. And I’m finally coming out of it. But my voice my voice is still not happy with me. And I cough when I laugh, so I’ll cut all that out. But if you have a nice pause, we’re only Rachel is maniacally laughing and it seems like I’m just staring deadpan into the camera. I actually have muted myself because I’m dying. Okay, now that we’ve covered that, come on, babe, why don’t we play and all that jazz?

Rachel 7:39
Okay, that’s all I know from the movie. I saw it in two years ago, but that was 20 years ago now. Oh, my God.

Emily 7:47
Yeah, I’d say that. Yeah. Well, it is a well known song from the musical. But what may not be as well known is that the play and the movie were both based on true stories. Okay, so Chicago in the 1920s was a very dangerous place for shitty husbands. In general, the 20s were times of bootlegging and Al Capone and flapper dresses and murder. Specifically, murders by women, which jumped 400% over the course of 40 years. So it’s a long time frame, but still 400% is a massive climb.

That’s huge. Yeah. So Chicago was basically chaos back then. It was a rave, you know, it was nuts. But if you were pretty lady, and you wanted to shoot, your no good cheating husband in the face. You might get away with it. Because there were a lot of all male all horny juries of peers, which, you know, tended to enjoy seeing a blond haired or Raven haired, red lipped beauty. tearfully crying on the stand saying, you know, it was self defense or whatever. So women were killing their husbands at an alarming rate,

Rachel 9:08
which, cool if you’re hot, not great. If the jury doesn’t find you attractive,

Unknown Speaker 9:14
you’re going to jail kill you and your husband. Cool if you’re hot. Sorry if you’re not. And unfortunately, the leading lady in our story was not conventionally beautiful. Her name was Tillie Klimek. And she was a Polish immigrant who came to the USA from Germany when she was about a year old likely around the year 1877. Which interesting factoid the initial wave of Polish immigration was known as Tsar kleban which I feel like a poser pronouncing it that way. But I looked at pronunciation. It means for bread and that basically means that this emigration was, like, marginally compiled of the lower classes, you know, they moved for the sake of bread because they needed to have, they couldn’t eat where they were.

Rachel 10:11
That’s why a lot of people imigrate, I would think in the 1800s, there was we’ve talked about this, like, so much famine and disease of war everywhere. I mean, not that the US is like, maybe ideally, people that gets a good place to move, but it appears to be that way on the travel brochure. Yeah, I mean, not anymore. They actually are pretty horrible. Until COVID hit and they’re like, yeah, You can’t come here. Stay out. Yeah.

Emily 10:42
So as an adult, once Tillie had grown up, she lived in Chicago. Her life probably seemed relatively unremarkable to most people, especially when you’re comparing it to the rave that is Chicago. And so when Tillie’s first husband dies in 1914, leaving Tillie a mere $1,000 in life insurance, nobody panicked, or noticed husband’s die. Life goes on.

Rachel 11:12
How much is that in today’s money,

Emily 11:14
it’s about $20,000. So it’s a decent, it’s not like a million dollars or whatever

Rachel 11:20
Yeah, you can’t like retire off of it.

Emily 11:23
Yeah, exactly. And so she gets her $1,000 and just a month later, right after Valentine’s Day, she remarries because you know 20s housewife is not good for anything other than birth and babies and keeping the home so she needs a man we know this to keep her afloat. You gotta have that $1,000 is only gonna go so far baby.

Rachel 11:49
I know because we are Tictok famous now. We might have some new listeners. Please hear the sarcasm in our voices. We don’t believe that.

Emily 11:57
Yeah. Very, very irritably stated. That was ever a thing and still is a thing. Okay. So unfortunately, Tillie’s second husband also dropped dead within three months.

Rachel 12:14
What a coinkidink. Huh?

Emily 12:16
This time, leaving her $1200 in cash. And $722 in life insurance,

Rachel 12:24
what an odd number

Emily 12:26
bingo like $1922 in 1920 is about $26,000. So yeah, she’s racking up the change here getting herself some coin.

Rachel 12:38
And it’s just so unfortunate for this widow, that she keeps marrying sickly men. Gosh, why is she attracted to all the sickly ones? You know? Yeah. You know, if I had a $20,000 for every sickly man I’ve ever been attracted to.

Emily 12:57
Gosh, so Tillie you know, she calls her family. She’s all Hey, fam. Like another one bit the dust and they’re all cool. Cool. Cool. Nobody cares. What was that guy’s name? Even Greg? Like, I don’t know.

Rachel 13:10
Probably Greg.

Emily 13:11
They’re like, Oh, Tillie. You go through men. The way Rachel goes to toilet paper on day she eats too much cheese.

Rachel 13:18
Mean! Low Blow.

Emily 13:19
Which is weird because you weren’t even born yet. But they definitely still use that example. Low blow. Low blow.

Rachel 13:26
My lactose intolerance preceded me. By like 100 years… well by like 70 years.

Emily 13:34
They’re like, some force of nature is coming we can feel it.

Rachel 13:39
In the next century.

Emily 13:46
So once that awkward conversation was over, she hopped in the car with her lover Joseph Gukowski and headed to sunny Milwaukee for a romantic getaway.

Rachel 13:58
You know where I love to go on my honeymoon. Wisconsin. You know what? They’re famous for cheese. Bring it all back together.

Emily 14:07
Oh my god, I love cheese so fucking much.

Rachel 14:10
You make fun of me for cheese? I’ll tell you where to get some cheese.

Emily 14:17
But so on the drive home, you know, probably depressed about the vacation being over. Tillie and Joseph got into a fight as couples tend to do on vacation. Yeah. And so Tillie was basically laying it on thick about how you can’t have the cake and eat it too. And like in the 20s this wasn’t just a cheesy idiom like, right, you got to get married. So she started citing the Mann Act, which was also known as the white slave Traffic Act of 1910. One is a federal law that criminalizes the transportation of any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery or for any other immoral purpose. So she’s like throwing this in his face. She’s like you transported me for the purpose of Sex and that is illegal and so you have to marry me. Otherwise you’re going to jail.

Rachel 15:05
He’s like, I thought we were just going to be doing some cheese tasting. I didn’t realize this was considered debauchery, jeez.

Emily 15:12
Like, she pulled that one out of our back pocket somehow. And he was like, no, sorry.

Rachel 15:18
I mean, I feel like if you are in a consensual sexual relationship, you don’t call it debauchery.You call it Fun. We’re going on vacation. Yeah, come on. This is a honeymoon. My other husband’s dead now. We can be free. We’ve got his money.

Emily 15:35
Yeah, weve got 50 grand in the bank. Seriously, think of all the dairy.

Rachel 15:39
Think of all the cheese curds we could get.

Emily 15:40
So hopefully they’re comfortable with each other because they’re going to both need the bathroom. Okay.

Rachel 15:45
Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Emily 15:46
But you can’t blackmail Joseph. He’s like, I’m an adulterer, not a liar.

Rachel 15:53
I know what I am.

Emily 15:56
So he didn’t want to marry Tillie. And if we ask ourselves why, let’s just assume he had some deductive reasoning skills and was like, you know what actually happened to your first two husbands? Ma’am? Yeah. And so he was kind of pushing her on like, but seriously, what happened to them? And Tillie actually let it slip that they hadn’t died of natural causes. They had died of poison.

sings that girl is poison

Rachel 16:32
I love that song. I know but we reference it all the time. That’s at song like I know where before we were even before we were using profanity. Yeah.

Emily 16:45
Yes, yes. So arsenic to be exact if you want to know the type of poison she was using. And she also let it slip that they were poisoned by her repeatedly. So she was like, he was me, bro. I did it.

Did she? How is this a slip at this point? It’s just a confession. She’s a supervillain and every movie where she sits down James Bond/Joseph and says, here’s how I killed them all. And you’re next.

Evil laugh.

Rachel 17:11
And that’s Dr. Evil but close enough. Yeah. She got the pinkie and everything.

Emily 17:18
I feel like Austin Powers was like supposed to satire.

Rachel 17:24
Yeah. Parody for sure.

Emily 17:25
Yeah. Well, so unfortunately, eventually, Joseph went away of the first two husbands and was found dead. Kind of like shortly after their trip, actually. I feel like he was just in a lose lose situation. Because if he would have married her, she would eventually have killed him for insurance money. But he didn’t marry her. So she killed him because he wouldn’t marry her. So it’s like his death certificate was signed long before you know she even came around she

Rachel 17:53
also now he’s kind of an accessory. He could turn on her cuz he knows everything. Yeah, exactly. liability. That’s the word I was looking for.

Emily 18:02
He saw liability. He’s a liability for sure. So the year is now 1919 until he has lost aka murdered. Three of her leading men. And so what do you think she did? She found a fourth. She moved on to the next one. Exactly, verse.

Emily 18:30
So this time she met a man named Frank Kupczyk. And their marriage wasn’t very happy. And so soon Tillie took on another lover named john, who apparently would stop by to kiss Tillie on the porch after Frank had gone to work.

Rachel 18:46
not subtle john.

Emily 18:49
I’m like Do you think that they were like if people see a strange man entering the home, there’ll be suspicious so we better stay outside. But let’s make out here so everyone can see.

Rachel 19:00
I mean, I think they just didn’t give any fucks if I had to hypothesize

Emily 19:04
no fucks at all. Well, so Surprise, surprise, Rachel. Two years into their marriage. Frank fell horribly ill

Rachel 19:14
What? What shocked!

Emily 19:17
twist! Exactly. So this time, Tillie began acting kind of strange. One afternoon Frank’s laid up in bed until he like friends over to her landlady his apartment and excitedly shows her an ad in the paper for a coffin for only $30 what a steal like, Oh my gosh, she literally was like, my man’s only got two inches to live. I’m gonna buy this coffin and store it in your basement so that when he kicks it, I’ve got this already.

Rachel 19:51
Did you just say two inches to live?

Emily 19:54
Yeah, that’s the quote. It said like that’s how she described it.

Rachel 19:57
What does that mean?

Emily 19:58
I don’t know. Or like inches From deaths

Rachel 20:01
Oh, I see.

Emily 20:02
Yeah, he’s only got two inches to live

Rachel 20:05
well you know how it is at funeral homes or it’s by buy two get one free you know, the way it works Yeah.

Emily 20:15

Rachel 20:17
yeah it’s just gonna say Payless coffins.

Emily 20:21
No, no wonder they went out of business. Oh yeah. So she literally buys this coffin and stores it in her landlady’s basement for safekeeping until she needs it. Sure. And then she purchased some nice black fabric and sat right there by Frank sick bed sewing herself a funeral hat… in front of her husband. Oh my god. It’s like he’s he’s like, Am I already dead? Is this hell? Like what’s happening?

Rachel 20:57
It’s hell. you have to lay there, arsenic poisoned by your wife and watch her practice crying. Oh, she sews a funeral h at. She’s got a mirror and she’s like, Oh, no, no, that doesn’t work. Oh, no, that doesn’t look good either. She’s like someone practicing their 911 call like Jesus. Oh my god.

Emily 21:21
So we all know now retrospectively that Tillie only knew that Frank was inches from death because she’s poisoning him every single day. But her naive neighbors were like, Oh, shit, she’s a psychic. Like exactly the jump we all would have made right?

Rachel 21:45
Obviously not morbid Curious. It’s so wholesome. We don’t understand it. She’s in touch with the dead.

Emily 21:54
She’s psychic. I’m surprised they didn’t jump to witch personally or maybe theyu’re past those times.

Rachel 22:01
I mean, this is the 20s like the 1920s they’re not burning witches at this point. Yeah,

Emily 22:08
yeah. So her psychic abilities start gaining notoriety. She, you know, hundreds of people in the neighborhood believe believe that she is possessed by natural supernatural powers. They’re like this bitch is psychic.

Rachel 22:25

Emily 22:26
so eventually, Frank met his fate and died. And on April 25 1921, Tillie apparently held the liveliest of funerals for Mr. Kupczyk reports say that she blasted cheerful dance music from her sitting room. And at one point, she even reached into his coffin, grabbed his ear and shouted into it, you devil, you won’t get up anymore.

Rachel 22:56
So glad you said you said ear not dick, but you said reached out and grabbed his that is immediately where my mind went

Emily 23:03
where your brain went? That’s, um, so once she’s buried, she collects the $675 in insurance money and moves on with her life, which is like, Man, you should be she’s going down in the number of insurance monies. Yeah.It’s like what the heck?

Rachel 23:19
Maybe when you’re husband number three, he’s like, but you already have enough. Like, if that happens to me, like don’t worry about it.

Emily 23:26
How about we don’t take out such a big policy on me. Well, and maybe the type of guys she can get is changing because at this point, keep in mind, she’s about 45. She’s a widow thrice times well, like three and a half kinda because Joseph, you know,

Rachel 23:47
she’s like Ross, when he saw three divorces three. Would you date somebody with three divorces? And Phoebe’s like, well, they’re all like in their 60s.

Emily 23:58
Not many people our age have that number. And so she’s a bit worn down. Like, this isn’t really part of the story. So I don’t talk about it. But she’s had babies. So she has had children with some of these men. So she’s 45 she’s run down. She’s had children. She’s done a lot of murdering. And as some reports say that she quote, had the demeanor of peasants. Which I mean, I don’t know. She did just shout in a dead man’s ear. So maybe, I don’t know.

Rachel 24:31
Sounds like she was kind of a fun party.

Emily 24:35
Right? Seriously, though, reports from this time period were fucking mean like, remember typhoid Mary’s description. They were like ruthless with her too. They describe Tillie as being cursed with a lumpy figure and then oily complexion.

Rachel 24:50
I mean, she’s had babies like lay off her mom BOD. Please.I’m offended for her. I mean, she’s killer, but so It’s so interesting though, because it’s a time portal into how terribly women were perceived. If you’re not hot, what are you even for? make babies stay at a site. We don’t want to see that lumpy figure walking around. It’s terrible. Exactly. Stay out of sight bitch. Yeah, it just makes me like, sad for how many women didn’t fit that beauty standard that we will never hear about. On the news or, I mean, on the news, but in in history, unless, well, we will because we’ll look them up. But even if they did great things, were their stories minimized because they weren’t the definition of 1920s attractiveness.

Emily 25:42
Yeah, there’s like cute little curls on there. Yeah. When the like you said like the red lipstick. And I mean, think about Gatsby

Rachel 25:49
was just gonna say think about flapper dresses. Those are not flattering dresses for people who have any sort of hips or stomachs or Yeah, yeah, no, it’s really built for somebody who has that like, quote unquote, ideal 1920s figure

Emily 26:07
nonetheless, a man named Joseph Klimek attended poor Frank’s funeral partially in order to check out the newly single Tillie. Hey, girl, give all of us lumpy Single Ladies hope.

Rachel 26:24
Please put that in your dating profile.

Emily 26:28
You know, there really is a pot for every kettle. Have I ever told you my orange sock theory that I came up with in college?

Rachel 26:35

Emily 26:37
It’s just like a stupid metaphor. But like, in college, you remember some of the people in college where it was like the very strange people?

Rachel 26:45
I am picturing the exact people that I’m sure you are picturing. Yes. Weird people find each other. You don’t want to date those people.

Emily 26:52
That is exactly what my orange sock theoriy is. So I was like, picture a drawer, you open a drawer and it’s full of single socks. None of them are paired up. But every sock obviously has a technical pair that it came with. So if your drawers full of white single socks, and there are two orange socks in that drawer, then maybe I’ll find those and put them together. First thing because weirdos find each other. It’s harder to find the right pair for the normal whites. Yeah,

Rachel 27:22
well, and it’s also harder when you’re weird is better concealed. I mean, not ours anymore because we have a podcast. So we’re like, hey, you’re welcome. Talk at a party about how much gas is in people after they die.

Emily 27:35
I literally was at dinner with my parents. And I was like, did you know that the blood that they drain out of bodies and autopsies just goes back into the sewer system.They’re like, why are you telling us

Rachel 27:47
but your, you know, your weird dude who also loves to talk about weird sewer blood is out there. It’s just you can’t pick them out because they’re not physically weird, right? We weirdos we morbid curious. We’re weird on the inside. We’re very weird on the inside. Okay,

Emily 28:05
so we’re going on to husband number four. So Joseph is at Frank’s funeral the checkout Tillie and he’s about 50 years old. He is a gentle hardworking widower. He’s been living alone for some years. Some say he was an alcoholic, but like he denied those charges. And at the funeral, I guess tillie and Joseph didn’t exactly hit it off. Till he felt too like sad, quote, unquote, to flirt. Yeah, right.

Rachel 28:35
But you don’t want to get caught flirting at your husband’s funeral, especially right after him.

Emily 28:40
You’ve already shouted in his ear. Like you probably should call it on the flirting. But so after a few weeks, Joseph’s extremely shady friend started nudging him until he’s direction bad move guys. But

Rachel 28:53
you’re single. She single. Your old she’s old. you’re lumpy, she’s lumpy.. God what shitty friends, your friends will tell you what they think about you based on who they tried to set you up with.

Emily 29:12
I know, right? I’m always like, Oh, God, I don’t want to get set up. But even beyond all of that. marrying the woman with four dead men in her wake is like, how is that not more frightening than being a bachelor? Like, I would much rather sit around naked and eat ramen noodles in front of my TV then, like, marry someone who might murder me. That’s just luck.

Rachel 29:35
That sounds like the dream, but it just wasn’t. It wasn’t culturally normal. Yeah, back then. It was like you’re supposed to be married and it’s weird if you’re not. Yeah, exactly.

Emily 29:47
Another reason that Joseph said he wasn’t worried about Tillie’s treacherous past, was that the second they were married, she did something to prove her loyalty. She went right ahead and burned up all the photographs. Her husband’s and her man friends and she tore up all of their letters. And she puts Joe’s picture all over the mantel. And that was all there was no other son of any other man.

Rachel 30:11
That sounds like she’s just getting rid of evidence.

Emily 30:17
And if it’s not like getting rid of that evidence, it definitely says that she’s totally fine with erasing all memory of a human being that she like once shared her bed with so it’s like,

Rachel 30:29
Yeah, that would be weird, especially if you have children with someone, right? loyalty or lack of emotion. I don’t know she a psychopath? Let’s

Emily 30:38
find out. Yeah. Um, so it seems like Telly just didn’t enjoy married life because it seems like every couple of years, she’s like, bored or whatever. And so she wasn’t happy in her marriage to Mr. Klimek. And so she starts gabbing about it to her cousin, and her cousin’s name is Nellie Koulik and interestingly enough, Nelly also had a dead husband of her own under her belt. So it must run in the family.

Rachel 31:07
Yeah, we’re all attracted to sickly men nothing nefarious going on. No,

Emily 31:11
not at all. So Nellie suggests the divorce But Tillie’s like, that’s a lot of paperwork. I’m gonna go ahead and go another route like no

Rachel 31:22
don’t worry, I’ve got this covered.

Emily 31:24
That’s like where I literally I’m picturing like Nellie and Tillie sitting at a kitchen table drinking coffee or tea or whatever. And they like shoot each other knowing luck. And then they’re just like, toss their heads back and laugh. Like, oh, that was such a silly solution. Nellie divorce, you idiot. Yeah.

Rachel 31:42
She has it while she’s like sharpening her steak knife. Yeah, she’s like, Oh, do you want a little bit more sugar in your tea? It’s not arsenic.

Emily 31:52
Well, apparently Nellie literally, like slyly pushed a tin across the table to Tillie, which Tillie like puts into her purse and it was rough on rats a household poison. Oh my gosh. So it was obviously arsenic tinted black with coal. And it was like easy to purchase at any neighborhood drugstore. arson. Yeah, its slogan was don’t die in the house. Which I’m like, the fun. I don’t understand how that’s a slogan.

Rachel 32:26
That’s legal.

Emily 32:28
I know. Right? I guess it’s supposed to be only for killing rats and not for husband. Sure. But so till he starts sprinkling it onto his food. And Joseph get sicker and sicker and his legs stiffened, and his breath started to smell like garlic both signs of arsenic poisoning. And with another payday just inches away from Tillie’s purse. Joseph’s nosy brother, john ruins everything by getting super suspicious. So he was an astute fellow. And he thought Joseph symptoms seemed odd. Plus, he’d heard that two of Joseph’s pet dogs had recently died as well. And that seemed weird.

Rachel 33:18
She’s killing his dogs. Yeah, I’m really sad. I mean, obviously people care about people, but leave the animals alone.

Emily 33:26
Yeah, we don’tdeserve dogs. Despite Tillie’s objections, john calls in his own doctor to come take a look at Joseph. And the doctor, of course, immediately recognizes the symptoms of arsenic poisoning. So Tillie is finally going to get her come up ends. On October 26 1922, she was arrested for the attempted murder of Joseph Klimek. And the following day, her cousin, Nellie was also arrested for providing her with that arsenic. And so, uh, who knows that this is just like, you know, storytelling, but I read somewhere that as she was carted away by the police report said she spat salty words at the cop that arrested her and she said, the next person I want to cook dinner for is you.

Rachel 34:17
I hope that’s true. That’s funny.

Emily 34:21
So ultimately, she did confess to poisoning her husband, but she claimed that Joseph was an alcoholic that abused her and cheated on her and she was like, doing this to defend herself. Yeah, so over the next year, these two women had a case brought against them. That was not like the cases in Chicago, the musical, no beautiful blonde pin girls, no red lipstick, to middle aged Polish immigrants and a series of exhumations anonymous letters, poison candies and gallows

Rachel 34:57
Oh my which is really interesting. But if you’ve got a group of judgmental white men who only care about you if you’re pretty it’s not great for your chances of getting out of jail free,

Emily 35:08
right? Like, I have no sympathy for this woman because she did kill a bunch people but like, there are a lot of articles out there that I could have gotten into. But it would be like a whole nother story about how horrible it is like this judgment against women, this woman based on her looks instead of her crimes like

Rachel 35:28
yeah, I mean, also, she definitely needed to go to jail. And so did every hot lady who killed people.

Emily 35:37
Exactly, exactly. So it was very quickly becoming obvious to everyone involved in this investigation, that Joseph’s mysterious sickness wasn’t an isolated incident. First, an anonymous letter showed up at the police station to tip them off. And so they dug up Frank Kupczyk’s body and shocker, the century his corpse was filled with arsenic, quote, enough to kill for men. So she was really going hard on him.

Then another anonymous letter comes in and urges the police to look into Nellies past and it was like have the body of Ellie’s first husband exhumed. And that man was exempt and his body was full of arsenic too. Interesting. All right. Meanwhile, Tilly was taken to the hospital to see Joseph which it’s like, why, why are they taking her to see like, don’t leave, leave her. Don’t leave her alone in the room with him like she check her purse. Right? So apparently, he was like laying in bed like playing her with furious questions. Like, you know, why did you this? Did you ever even love me? And I guess she got all like, bratty teenager on him and was like, I don’t know. Don’t bother me anymore.

Rachel 36:55
You’re not my real husband. Yeah.

Emily 36:58
I don’t even know I’m bored. Can I go back to jail? So apparently, when she overheard him asking a nurse for water, she shouted at the nurse. If he makes any trouble for you take a two by four board and hit him over the head with it.

Rachel 37:17
She’s Savage. Yeah, very. Yeah. calling her a bratty teenager is perfect. She’s I take back what I said about her throwing a fun party because she’s a person who it starts outside and then two drinks in. You don’t want to be around her anymore. Like you’re sloppy. You’re getting she’s out. Watch me dance. Do you want to see me try and make out with that guy.

Emily 37:42
And I know she’s the girl at the party that two hours and she starts crying because no one’s paying enough attention to her. So she like locks herself in the closet to cry and like, Tillie come out. We love you. We want to party with you because she wants the attention. Yeah, if you I know if you like that.

Rachel 37:59
Meanwhile, I’m the bitch just like eating chips. Like guacamole. though? Are the snacks for everybody or this walk in the fridge? Is this for the whole party or is it just for you for later? Cuz like I’m gonna eat it though. So yeah.

Emily 38:16
Um, so she surprisingly she kissed him before she left which kind of like baffled onlookers, which I’m like, does she have poison in her mouth?

Rachel 38:23
Like exactly what I thought like arsenic lipstick would happen? Yeah,

Emily 38:26
but I guess not. So the police start preparing to dig up all of Tillie’s husbands, and they’re basically prepared for finding three murders. Sure. And then suddenly, two of Tillie’s cousins show up at the police station, and basically start begging the police to zoom for additional bodies, those of their siblings, all who had died mysteriously after having dinner at Tillie’s place.

Rachel 38:57
Twist. That’s a genuine twist. What Yeah, okay. So she wasn’t only killing for money,

Emily 39:04
right? She was just like, so why would she kill her cousin’s allegedly three of them were killed because she was arguing with their mother. So she’s like, I’m gonna get back at the mom by killing the kids and then one was killed because Tillie was angry with her directly. So now, if you’ll remember, that’s three husbands, four cousins. Well, three husbands. Yeah, three husbands four cousins were at seven. And then they learned about tellies lover Joseph boskoski. So that’s up to eight now. And you know, another day another exclamation order. They’re literally digging up the dead and like the evidence against her is piling up. So they’re formally charging Tillie and Nellie both with murder.

And so Tillie was only charged with the murder of Frank Kupczyk with Frank who was her husband prior to Joseph, and Nellie was only charged with the murder of her first husband. But so if we’re counting that means they found four husbands between the women, one lover, four cousins for a total of nine murders. Then the acclamations took a super morbid turn. And detectives found three tiny graves know those of Nellies twin infants and granddaughter.

Like, how did this fucked up situation like get even more fucked up? Well, apparently, Nellie had given birth to the twins while she was still married to her first husband. But she was already involved in a hot and heavy affair with the man who eventually became her second husband. And so the first husband refused to acknowledge them as his and so mysteriously one of the twins died at eight months and then the other died a month later. So like the husband one except them so she killed them. Essentially.

Rachel 41:05
If if you’re already cheating and planning on murdering your husband, like, how I kill you. Like Yeah, yeah, I mean, honestly, I don’t know why I’m trying to logic this because there’s no logic behind it that a rational non psychopathic brain would see.

Emily 41:21
Yeah, for real. So the third dead baby was nearly his grandchild allegedly poisoned because nearly his daughter, the baby’s mom had criticised Nellie for her manner of living. And so soon after that her granddaughter grew sick and she insisted on being the one to treat her. And then the baby’s feet swelled and her face puffed and she died under her grandmother’s roof at her grandmother’s hand. So that’s murder Count 12 between these two women now.

So rounding out the victim count were various relatives, friends and neighbors, all of whom had eaten at Chili’s or Nellies and then hadn’t felt like themselves sits one of Nellie sons suspected he’d been poisoned, started helping the police form a case against his mother, and another one of his daughters suffered from perpetual heart trouble after eating at Tillie’s house. Wow.

Two of Tillie’s neighbors testified that they felt deathly ill after Telly fed them poisoned candy, and even Nellie’s sister Cornelia was brought into jail because her son in law suspected her of giving him poisoned moonshine. So it like really runs in this family like Nellie. Tillie and Cornelia all poisoning people like it’s crazy. Yeah. And then, last but not least, the police also learned of a mystery man, known only as Meyers, who may have been another lover of Tillie’s and who was now missing. Wow.

Total alleged victim count is now at 2012 dead, seven alive but in Super poor health and one missing. And that’s just the humans. One neighbor claimed that their dog mysteriously died after trial. Tillie had voiced objections to its obnoxious barking so and he had she had apparently killed her husband’s dogs so insane amount of murder and death following these two

Rachel 43:29
Yeah, I mean, Sadie my dog has been barking like half this episode, so I’m just like, glad Tillie’s not my neighbor. Good work. You know how we’ve joked Emily about calling 911 for stupid problems like there’s no more toilet paper quick call 911 whatever it is. This is these women’s mindset like anytime they have a tiny inconvenience or like well, that’d be poison. Poison them immediately. Yeah, I stubbed my toe poison poison. Poison what whoever came over with me and saw me in this embarrassing moment. Yeah. It’s been irrational. Makes no sense to me. It’s fucking crazy. Yeah.

Emily 44:14
So authorities began talking about a poison ring that stretched throughout little Poland with Tillie as the High Priestess which so it’s like a little melodramatic, I think but you know, they’re like Tillie’s poisoning people Nellie’s poisoning people. Apparently, Cornelia is poisoning people. Like they’re thinking there’s this like, cult or whatever.

Rachel 44:37
Yeah, sounds like they should have matching jackets or something. Right.

Emily 44:40
It’s like High Priestess and the other ones like I’m with her. I’m with the bride, you know, like, it says about their backs. Yeah, yeah. Um, so one coroner, I guess like melodramatically declared, there’s no question that Miss Klimek poison everyone. She wanted to get out of the way like

Rachel 44:58
literally everyone. Who’s ever eaten at her house has probably there’s poison in the in the kitchen utensils like I don’t fucking know. Yeah, it’s like when you go to a restaurant and you like have celiacs and you have to be gluten free and if it touches gluten, you might get sick. That’s don’t eat Tillie’s house because it all has just a tiny bit of arsenic. It might have been cross contaminated.

Emily 45:19
She does not have a separate kitchen where she doesn’t where she prepares her non poisoned.

Rachel 45:23
She’s not fucking arsenic kosher, it’s not a thing.

Emily 45:27
So the two women are taken away to jail and in jail. Tillie and Nellie acted very differently. Nellie apparently started speaking less English, and became very like good natured but was prone to his hysterics. She did allow photographers to take her picture, but not until she’d slicked back, slicked back her hair. And when asked about her case, she insisted that her son had just made a joke. And the the the detectives had just taken it seriously, but it was just a joke. Like, no, we exhumedhis body. And your husband was killed.

Rachel 46:08
Yeah. Do you know how like kids love to pull a fast one on their parents by giving them to convicted for murder?

Emily 46:15
Right? I it’s just the prank guys. Yeah. On the other hand, Tillie was silent and icy and controlled, and like defiant, and she didn’t show any feelings.

Rachel 46:30
Hmm, yeah. psychopath for sure.

Yeah. Apparently the only like real like, emotion she showed was at her own defense in trial. Apparently she like burst out in her defense and was like, I didn’t Rob nobody. And I didn’t shoot nobody and I didn’t poison nobody. I didn’t kill nobody. I didn’t. Everybody picks on me. Every makes eyes at me like they’re going to eat me. Why do they make eyes at me? I tell the truth. Anything I did. I did to myself and nobody else.

like God. Okay, that’s baloney.

Emily 47:01
But also, I liked all the double negatives. It’s like you didn’t you probably didn’t even realize it. But you were saying like, I didn’t kill nobody. Yeah, did kill everyone.

Rachel 47:11
everyone who ever came to eat at my house. But she’s also just that dramatic person who doesn’t understand how court works and tries to bust in the door and it’s all like, I object! I object!

Emily 47:20
And they’re all like: contempt. contempt.

Rachel 47:23
Yes. Yeah. That there’s nothing to object to here. Like you’re literally supposed to take a pledge on a Bible you object to that like,

Emily 47:32
They’re all, maam,, this is a wedding.

Rachel 47:35
I’m sorry, wrong courtroom but like, would you lovely couple like some candy.

Emily 47:41
My gift to you. Then she winks at the wife. Got you. And so the state attorney was pretty much out for blood at this point. So he actually fed journalists quotes, like he said, the most astounding wholesale poisoning plot ever uncovered. The most amazing death plot in recent criminal history. Like he was basically convinced that little Poland was haunted with this network of female poisoners, and he wouldn’t be satisfied until till we got a life sentence. Nay, a death sentence like he wanted her killed.

And so the papers are merciless, especially describing tillie’s looks. This is from a paper, a fat squat Polish peasant woman 45 years old, but looking 55 man with a lumpy figure, big hands and feet and dull brown hair slicked back into a knot at the back of her head. What the RUTHLESS.

Rachel 48:54
that would devastate me I would be in jail just crying and crying granted, maybe she doesn’t care because she’s fucking heartless but like

Emily 49:00
I I know. I’m like also that’s why I look like most Sunday mornings after not showering on Saturday.

Rachel 49:08
no judgement girl. I would never call you lumpy because it’s mean and inaccurate.

Like it is true, but is it is mean. Yes, so Tillie and Nellie are formally accused of murder and the judge actually ordered what they called back then, a psychopathic lab test, which I think today we would call like evaluating to see if they had the mental capacity to stand trial, right. But when the results of the test came back, it found both women to be subnormal mentally and suffering from dementia praecox,

what is that

Emily 49:47
chronic deteriorating, psychotic disorder characterized by rapid cognitive disintegration usually beginning in the late teens or early adulthood

Rachel 49:58
basically, they’re like their brains not Working so they kill people.

Exactly. And they said like they had intellects no higher than those of an 11 year old child. Like, basically they’re saying these women, their brains are fucked. Like they’re psychos.

But if you think about like, fun note, from your friendly neighborhood, therapist. The part of your brain, that prefrontal cortex, the part that most people now doesn’t finish developing until you’re 25. New research is now saying maybe even closer to 28 is the part of your brain where we really develop those empathy skills. Right? And so if you think about an 11 year old, they’re very, like black or white thinking very much. Yeah, like everyone’s looking at me. Everyone’s judging me. They’re they’ve got hungry eyes. Right, you know, so I guess that makes sense. They have this very adolescent view of the world where I mean, most adolescents aren’t going to kill people, but still,

Emily 51:00
but like less understanding too of consequences that come with like, they might take an action and not realize what the consequence was, or whatever.

Rachel 51:09
Yeah, or just not think it through, right. Like, yeah, of course, I’m going to get away with this. Whatever. Right.

Emily 51:15
And I will also say neither of them spoke perfect English. So if they were, say, questioning them in English, it’s possible that they didn’t understand the questions fully or like couldn’t answer it. Well, so yeah, they should

Rachel 51:29
they have been questioned in Polish.

Emily 51:30
Yeah, exactly. So anyway, the trial was apparently a circus. on numerous occasions, the judge was forced to yell, this is not a theater.

Rachel 51:44
Isn’t it though?

Emily 51:45
God that’s funny. It seriously might have seemed like a Shakespearean play because witnesses that testified against Tillie, included gossipy neighbors, grave diggers and an undertaker it’s like a gossipy neighbor, a grave digger and Undertaker walk into a bar. There’s a joke there somewhere. And apparently, the witnesses were a riot. And they had like people laughing in court. Because they are just like, so absurd. Like such absurd characters.

Rachel 52:13
Yeah, It does sound kinda fun.

Emily 52:15
By the end of the trial, nobody was laughing because the coroner’s chemist found arsenic in the bodies of all three of tillie’s deceased husband’s. She’s still denied it. And she testified on her own behalf while wearing the black hat she made for her husband’s funeral.

Rachel 52:35

Emily 52:36
And she insisted that Frank had died of alcohol poisoning. And she sat on stand. I loved them and they loved me. They just died the same as other people do. I’m not responsible for that. I could not help it if they wanted to.

Rachel 52:53
Yeah, no.

Emily 52:55
Yeah, the attorney was not having an either and he was basically demanding the jury give her the death penalty. You know, he’d seen all these blonde beauties get away with murder and he was sick and tired of it. He wanted to make an example out of this Polish woman

Rachel 53:10
make the lumpy pay!

Emily 53:18
So apparently in his like closing arguments, he was like gentlemen, because it was an all male jury. Of course, death penalty has never been inflicted upon a woman in this state. This defendant is like a good many other women in this town. She thinks she can get away with it. But there are a lot of women gentlemen who are awaiting your verdict in this case. I feel that the death penalty should be inflicted. And I mean it. Oh, my goodness.

Rachel 53:45
Mic drop moment.

Emily 53:46
Yeah, he did not quite get his wish. She did receive a guilty verdict for the murder Frank. But she was only sentenced to life in prison, not the death penalt. It was however, the harshest sentence ever given to a woman in Cook County at that time. Okay. So she went to prison and she basically led a peaceful life in prison. She told a reporter A few years later that she was caught up on all of her spring sewing, and that she actually really enjoyed the prison food. Okay, she spent 13 years in jail until she died in November of 1936. And in the end, no one ever found her alleged lover Myers. But once Joseph Klimek actually did die, they did an autopsy and found him to be chock full of arsenic. So I think we can all assume what happened to him. Yeah. And that’s a crazy story of Tillie Klimek,

Rachel 54:49
that’s insane. So that is part of the inspiration for Chicago.

Emily 54:53
Yep. And just the whole concept of like the 400% increase in killing and all the like pretty women. Getting out. But the like not so pretty women going to jail. Yeah,

Rachel 55:05
cuz I’ve heard some stories about like the, you know pretty well women and how they inspired it but I don’t think I’ve heard him tell him before so that’s really interesting. Yeah, exactly. Cool.

Chapter 2 – Key West, FL

Well, I hope you are ready for this because we are back in Florida. Oh, oh Florida man, Florida man love during Florida stories because terrible today is so fun. This week, I am taking us to Key West. Have you been?

Emily 55:33
Is that the very tip of Florida?

Rachel 55:35
I don’t know. I don’t know exactly where it is. It’s in the keys. You know, the Florida keys.

Emily 55:43
It’s a an island. Yeah. So I’ve been to Naples, which is close to Key West. And I’m trying to remember. I think when I was in Naples, we drove to Key West for a day or something because there’s like a

Rachel 55:57
but if it’s an island. You can’t drive there; did you take a ferry?

Emily 56:01
No, there’s a long, like bridge, a piece of land that connects it somehow. Yeah, it’s four hours, four and a half hours from Naples, but you can drive it.

Rachel 56:12
Okay. All good. You know, clearly, I didn’t Google geography of the US. But I will tell you some things we could do there if we can find it. So what first sure want to check out Ernest Hemingway’s house, which is now a museum. So there are guided tours. And honestly as much as we are both into history and literature.

This place is also very into Cat Cat and those cats. I know half the pictures that I was looking at on TripAdvisor are beautiful, friendly seeming cats. There are 54 cats on this property. Cats fucking everywhere that I know. There’s also apparently a cat cemetery on the property. So when the kitties pass, maybe we could see some cat ghosts, which I’m here for l

Emily 57:01
Like at the Whaley house and they have a cat ghost.

Rachel 57:05
Yeah, I think a cat and a dog that were chasing each other or something like that. I would also as a way throwback that was Episode Two, we talked with the Whaley house, I would also want to go to drive to her to this National Park, which is a lot of open water and seven small islands. So you have to take a boat to get there. And when you do, it’s all 19th century architecture and apparently a lot of birds, so probably we would need to wear hats. We do not like birds.

And being basic as fuck, Of course, we could go to Mallory square, so we could check out the little boutique shops and restaurants. But the coolest thing they do is that they have a celebration at sunset. It’s actually two hours before sunset. And you celebrate the view with a festival that has musicians artists, food and performers and clowns apart. That is not my favorite. So hopefully we can avoid those damn clowns. And speaking of creepy ass things in Florida, I’m doing a haunting story.

Emily 58:13
Yeah, I love hauntings!

Rachel 58:17
our story starts with a little boy, Robert Eugene Otto, whom everyone called Gene in 1904 Gene’s grandfather came across the unique doll when he was traveling in Germany. This stall was probably part of a display window that exhibited gestures or clowns and wasn’t actually advertised as a doll. But he was pretty much the original life size Barbie this doll was like four feet tall. And when Gene’s grandfather Gene was around 8 at the time presented him with this doll. He told him his name was Robert. Just like Gene. thus we begin the legend of the most haunted doll in America. Robert the doll.

Emily 59:07
So excited yucky.

Rachel 59:09
I pictured little Gene as a lonely guy. Robert the doll became his best friend and Genetreated Robert as if he were alive. He would play with Robert talk with Robert. And unfortunately, when Gene misbehaved or something went missing or something broke. Gene would use Robert as a scapegoat. He would tell his parents or nannies Robert did it.

Emily 59:36
Danny is not here Mrs.Torrence

Rachel 59:38
Definitely that vibe. Exactly. Now, for the rest of this story. I would like you to suspend a little disbelief and also imagine the word allegedly at the start of every paragraph. Because there are a lot of conflicting stories and we’re doing our best out here doing our best. So, allegedly, one day when gene was young, he was sleeping as you do. He woke up in the middle of the night to find Robert sitting on the end of his bed, staring with black, beady eyes. A few minutes later, the rest of Gene’s family woke up to loud sounds of furniture being thrown all around Gene’s room. His mother ran to find the source of chaos, finding nothing but a room in disaster. Gene curled up in fear in his bed. And Robert still sitting at the foot of Gene’s bed.

Emily 59:47
Like upright like what kind of doll is this like, stiff enough that it could be positioned that way.

Rachel 1:00:56
I’m gonna send you a picture.

Emily 1:00:58
Okay. Oh god, this is like The Conjuring, which is my all time favorite of scary movies. And they have that creepy doll.

Rachel 1:01:06
Yeah. Um, be prepared. He is dressed in a sailor suit. That was a it was Gene’s outfit that he put on Robert so we’ll get into that. Emily’s eyes Oh my God.

Emily 1:01:26
What the fuck is that?

Rachel 1:01:28
We will obviously post pictures on our social media but holy shit. That’s Robert the doll.

Emily 1:01:32
this is so crazy. Because so I’ve been rewatching psych.

Rachel 1:01:37
Okay, I love that show. Yeah,

Emily 1:01:39
because my good and there’s an episode where they go to like camp Tiki Hama and it’s like, there’s this murder and the guy who’s like he goes a little crazy and he’s carrying around a doll that looks just like that really? Like is very known for like, their episodes are loose satire of other things. Like it’s like the shining or Twin Peaks or whatever. Right? So I wonder if it’s this stuff like wonder if that’s so crazy. Just like a throw to this situation? Yeah.

Rachel 1:02:11
Oh, interesting.

Emily 1:02:12
like literally just watch that episode. Yeah, creepy, I don’t like that doll.

Rachel 1:02:17
Now, if this was my doll, and I’m Gene, I am donating it immediately or I’m burning it. I’m saging it and giving it a sea burial whatever. Get the fuck out of my house. But after this gene got even more obsessed with Robert. Before this gene would talk to Robert as if he were alive. But of course Robert wouldn’t respond. But after this, when Gene would talk to Robert Gene’s parents reported that they would hear a response in an unfamiliar deep voice

Emily 1:02:55
I don’t like that.

Rachel 1:02:57
No. Oh, it’s like a creepy ventriloquist. Like what is it? Who knows? But Jean and Robert got into more spooky shenanigans when he they I don’t really know how doll puberty works, but you know hit puberty. Robert must have resented gene allegedly for blaming him for all of genes, bad choices in childhood. And I’m editorializing here, but I’m guessing that gene started to play with Robert less, as he discovered that teenagers playing with dolls instead of talking with their friends. Yeah. makes you the weird kid at school. Hmm. So Gene, propped up Robert in the attic window of the family’s home, where he could keep a lookout and creep the fuck out of the neighbor kids. What?

Emily 1:03:50
It’s like every haunted, awful creepy movie where there’s like a figure in the top window. It’s just a kid who’s like, I’m gonna put my doll up there. Exactly.

Rachel 1:04:00
Exactly. And of course, the local kids were freaked out. legend was that Robert would be sitting at the window one second, and then disappear, and then reappear and then disappear. You get it? You get it. But yeah, look.. Yeah, got ya. Then he’d reappear!. Now. So this this way, and then when he disappeared, you know, twit turns. We’ve got it all. This was the house that when you cross the street and walked on the other side of the road, you would just you know you would avoid it. It was creepy house.

Gene probably didn’t want to be the weird kid or the house that everyone was afraid of. So he went up to the attic to check on Roberts window perch one day, but he wasn’t there. Oh, he was out shopping or something. You know how? Yelp Gene found Robert in a rocking chair in a bedroom up stairs.

Emily 1:04:57
Oh, rocking slowly or probably. I got this. Hello. Your voice is so low.

Rachel 1:05:12
Your sticky shoes voice

Emily 1:05:13
I’m Emily. Oh god.

Rachel 1:05:19
Gene eventually grew up and went to pursue an education in Art in New York and Paris. So he was kind of cool. Ish except for he played with dolls for way too long, in my opinion, allegedly. But when he would come back to visit his family and Key West, there was Robert creepy as ever. They didn’t get rid of them. He just like lived in attic.

Emily 1:05:42
Why don’t you burn that fucker.

Rachel 1:05:44
I don’t know what happened to him, buddy. He just he left one day he decided to

Emily 1:05:49
send into a nice pasture with other dolls.

Rachel 1:05:51
We want him to have a new life with other kids. Eventually, Gene’s parents passed and he inherited the family estate. So he moved back into his childhood home. Don’t worry, Robert was there to keep him company. As an adult, Gene worked as an artist and some say that he would spend his days all alone in this mansion. Save for his old buddy Robert. I don’t like it now.

Emily 1:06:19
I imagine him like doing what I do, which is walking around and talking out loud to my cats but it’s different because there at least living creatures Roberts a doll,

Rachel 1:06:29
allegedly. Nonetheless. Gene was able to find a lady to marry him. Her name was Anne

Emily 1:06:38

Rachel 1:06:39
and Anne was not into Robert for obvious reasons.

Emily 1:06:46
It’s like honey, can you take that? That doll out of our marital bed?

Rachel 1:06:53
So like Emily and I sometimes talk about like a list of immediate Nos on dating sites. We get into that on horrible minute for a $10 patrons when you get to hear more about us. But we talked about like, I obviously am married so I’m not on dating apps. But Emily is not married and she doesn’t like dating apps but she does tell her as her horrible stories, which is fun.

Emily 1:07:17
I’ve got one for today. Oh my god.

Rachel 1:07:19
Immediate red flag. A guy’s got adult. Immediate No. Got his arm around it in the picture. Or he’s a ventriloquist. It’s the same thing. Yeah, yeah. Immediate. No, don’t don’t touch me with fingers that had been inside a doll. Period. I don’t want to hear you. Period. So I’m assuming Anne found Robert creepy. And also, you don’t want to marry a doll guy. It’s just not sexy. It’s not cute. But instead of finally parting with his childhood friend, Gene put Good old Robert back in the attic.

Emily 1:07:55
He’s like, I’m gonna I’ll come back for you once I leave this bitch.

Rachel 1:08:00
It’s exactly like that. But Robert was pissed. And he was very vindictive, and anne would report hearing footsteps and spiteful laughter emanating down from the attic. Oh, yeah, that doll was mood. So Otto died in 1974 and Anne died two years later in 1976. Their estate was sold with Robert still hanging out in the attic. There were some rumors that say that Gene died with Robert by his side.

Emily 1:08:33
Yeah, it’s holding his hand.

And then anne died after going insane. Please hear my therapist eyeroll. after locking Robert in the attic, because she was hearing him. But I really doubt that he died with this doll in his arms and that he probably was near his wife but hey, what the fuck do I know? I’m not doll person. Did you have a lot of dolls growing up?

No. I mean, I had Barbies. Yeah, I I collected and I’m saying this loose like let loosely collected porcelain dolls like

Rachel 1:09:07
They’re creepy,

Emily 1:09:08
but I don’t remember wanting that like yeah, I I think someone got me you know, like if you say one time like I love owls and then like everyone gives you out for like 10 years and you’re like, I don’t need owl salt and pepper shakers. Please stop. That may or may not be true to my life story.

Rachel 1:09:28
My parents so my dad one time I got like a duck a mallard duck something as a gift. And for like 10 years our house when I was a kid just had duck shit everywhere there was a duck. Yeah, you can’t say you like it.

Emily 1:09:42
Something about animals too my dad everything bear like people give him bear stuff because it’s like on the family crest or whatever. But like I have owls. I have an aunt that likes said she liked chicken. So it’s always like, Oh, this chicken thing like we should get it for Gwen or whatever, you know, I feel like maybe I got a doll once and then it was like one of those things where it’s like we get Emily gets porcelain doll. Yeah, for her birthday or whatever. Yeah, I’m sure I liked him in a moment. But I have no I never played with them. They just sat on a shelf.

Rachel 1:10:13
Yeah, my Grammy used to get me porcelain dolls that had to live in the box and my mom was all going to be thankful for these one day and I don’t know. I or my millions. Yeah, I’m sure I don’t have them anymore. I’m sure they’re donated somewhere like what the beanie babies wherever they are. But she did one time get me a very creepy porcelain clown. And that one was porcelain clowns. That one was not in the box and I swear to fucking god, they moved

Emily 1:10:39
Yes. Like, yeah, my personal controller and they had the like, lumpy body. Yes. Exactly. That and the porcelain has and then the porcelain. I had a bunch of those two.

Rachel 1:10:48
I only had one. Not sure why. terrifying. I am not a fan of clowns. Don’t get me claps if you’re going to give me animal shit.

Emily 1:10:55
I have a good clown story for us. Terrible today. Yeah.

Rachel 1:10:59
Okay. So the next owner of the house was named Myrtle Reuter And she lived there with Robert for 20 years he just saved.

Emily 1:11:09
Did she know? I don’t know. Why are these people not getting rid of this fucking creepy doll? I

Rachel 1:11:13
don’t know. Maybe it was part of the old houses charm. I don’t know. But Myrtle sold the house to someone who use it as a guest house. It sounded from my research, kind of like property management. Maybe the new owners daughter was originally really excited to find a doll, but later had nightmares. And she said she thought this creepy ass doll wanted to hurt her. And also that Robert was wandering around her room at night. Oh, yeah. Oh my gosh. And for the record if you’re into this kind of place that has a creepy history. Apparently it’s a bed and breakfast now.

Rachel 1:12:27
way worse way, way worse. Okay, at last, Robert the doll was moved to his permanent home in 1994. The East Martello Museum in Key West. So and he’s still there today.

Emily 1:12:43
Hopefully behind bulletproof glass block shot

Rachel 1:12:46
he definitely behind glass and visitors have seen some shoot there. There have been stories from both guests and museum staff about Robert moving, changing his facial expressions or giggling quietly, which is the creepiest kind of giggling and giggling is already creepy. museum staff Note that you can take a picture with Robert but they recommend asking his permission before you snap a photo. Because apparently shall put some kind of curse on you if you don’t get on his good side.

Emily 1:13:24
I hate this doll He is the worst. Can we go?

Rachel 1:13:29
Yes but We got to ask him permission before we take a picture. Allegedly not asking Robert for permission has caused people physical harm, or car accidents, divorce, job loss, you name something that comes from bad karma and it has fucking happened. People have also reported that their camera isn’t working when they try to take a picture but as soon as they leave the museum, everything’s fine, like curses their cameras. A lot of people believe that Robert put that evil on them because he receives about 123 apology letters a day.

Emily 1:14:03
Oh shit. So people like please please relinquish this curse letters

Rachel 1:14:08
are displayed by him like his apology. That was that picture? Yeah, that’s amazing. People are begging the doll for forgiveness so that he’ll lift the curse on them. We don’t know if these letters work I didn’t see in the research. If he was like taking the curse away. Because the only ones that are displayed are talking about people’s bad luck. They don’t follow up like Thank you, Robert. Yeah, I think that only Robert knows if their luck has changed.

Emily 1:14:35
Muahahahah or should I say heheehehehe

Rachel 1:14:38
never say that. Never that never. Oh god. There are also some letters talking asking Robert for advice or asking him to curse other people. He’s not a fucking voodoo doll. That’s amazing. He has also been known to come for people who have talked shit about his buddy gene. Apparently his facial expression will turn to anger and He will put his hand against the glass case if anybody talks bad about Gene

Emily 1:15:04
Do you think there’s somebody behind it like maneuvering? Yeah probably less serious.

Rachel 1:15:09
I don’t know I i go back and forth on whether or not I believe in ghosts or hauntings. I definitely believe in some spiritual shit and I believe in bad karma. For sure. Yeah. But like you do too. Yeah, I don’t know. On top of that, Robert the doll receives gifts. So I can people are weird, right? allegedly. He likes sweets. So people send him sugary snacks and sometimes money. And apparently sometimes joints. museum thinks the chill out. inappropriate. But I wonder how many of these employees are all score?

Emily 1:15:46
Or I know I was like, that’s the museum’s official position. But Billy the guy who works at the museum is like this is awesome.

Rachel 1:15:55
Yeah. Or if they’re too scared to take his weed because they think they’re gonna be haunted. It’s Oh, yeah, he’s like, I wanted to smoke that later. You bitches. Yeah, for the record. We also like sweets, at horrible history. Okay, send us some sweets, but not owls. Emily has enough. No clowns, no. No clowns. Apparently, Robert the doll also has a pretty large social media presence. And he’s big on TV and in movies, and was the inspiration for some horror movies, including Robert reboard in 2019. Oh, yeah, recent s back. So that is the creepy story of Robert the most haunted doll in America.

Emily 1:16:40
I hate him. And I love that story. I really want to go to fucking keys..

Rachel 1:16:47
Bed and Breakfast. I want to stay at the bed and breakfast. I want to go see all the Hemingway house cats. And I don’t want to talk to Robert the doll. But like, dude, I’ll bring him some candy. Give me some good karma. And be like,

Emily 1:16:59
you know that like you like? Yeah, when you’re walking up to a dog that you want to like, know that you’re the beta like,

Rachel 1:17:06
yeah, like you’re the alpha will not hurt you. You are the alpha. Yes, exactly. So that’s it. We’ve got a couple recommendations. Well, I’ve got a recommendation. And then Emily’s got a listener email, which is cool. Yes. So I want to throw that over to my friend Josh at obscure history podcast. He just did this two part series on Pocahontas that I listened to it’s a, fucked up that story. Like, crazy just hearing about all of the things they got wrong. And some of the stories about Pocahontas from the tribes people versus and I can’t remember which tribe and I apologize to any native listeners. I know. That’s just the whitest faux pas.

Emily 1:17:50
I’m sure that Robert or I’m sure that Josh covers it

Rachel 1:17:54
Josh does cover it. Yeah. And then see, Robert, the doll is haunting you now. And you know, it’s in my head. But he talks about like how. So Josh goes into this explanation about how history becomes history, and kind of talks about if it happened, and we talk about it, the way that we talk about it becomes part of the historical narrative. So even like how we talk about Anastasia the movie, you know, his he doesn’t really have any Anastasia. But it fits in the collective historical context, even if it’s wrong, it becomes part of history. And so he talks about kind of the melding together of stories. Anyway, I was totally nerding out about it. I found it super interesting. So go download his podcast, wherever you listen, we’ll link his show in our show notes.

Emily 1:18:41
Yeah, definitely check it out. Sounds like if you like horrible history, you will like obscure history as well. Well, so one thing just to round out this episode. Last week, as you know, if you listened I talked about headless body and a topless bar and the very, very unfortunate mortician that was forced to cut off her friend’s head at gunpoint. And that terrible situation. Yeah. And then, on Happy Hour, I did a deep dive into what morticians do and what the embalming process was like, and what autopsies are like and that kind of thing.

And so we have a listener email from our newest patron Brit, and president of our fan club. Yeah. And she the subject line is adventures with the morticians daughter. And I’m just I’m gonna read it to you.

So Hello, lovely Emily and Rachel. It’s me, Britt, the president of your fan club. Hey, today I have for you tales about growing up with one of my best friends. My friend Lizzie, who I’ve known since before preschool, lived in the funeral home and aren’t old. That was editorializing on my part. But her dad was the local mortician and the front room of their house. was used for viewing bodies for wakes and visitations. So I always had to go to her house through the back door when I came over to play. Oh, the embalming room was in a part of their garage, which we would walk through and get to a casket showroom, where we often played hide and seek. Oh my god, that would be so cool as a kid.

I’d be in a coffin

Rachel 1:20:27
fall asleep in there.

Emily 1:20:28
The embalming room was so creepy with stainless steel basins and tables and a hook near the ceiling to hang the bodies to drain the blood. Oh my god. But I think the thing that freaked me out the most was having sleepovers at her house knowing that there were dead bodies just upstairs. When we were a little bit older and able to drive her dad tasked us with going to pick up a body in a neighboring city.

Oh, when we met the transport in a parking lot and backed up the two vehicles to each other. Open the back hatch of the suburban and slid the body into the back where the seats were folded down. No. I remember the body being so stiff and hearing it slide around while we drove Oh god. Like when you buy laundry detergent at Costco and you hear it slide as you turn it. Lizzie and I joked that he was still alive and then blasted the Rolling Stones so we didn’t have to think about it on the hour and a half car ride home.

Rachel 1:21:32
Oh my god, dad, they’re teenagers. You can’t do it.

Emily 1:21:36
No, this was pretty common practice for us and I tried not to let it weird me out growing up but it’s probably pretty obvious that it was a deciding factor in me becoming morbid curious. Oh my god open to any and all questions you may have about why now need therapy. Love Your morbid curious, friendly neighborhood therapists.

Rachel 1:21:58
killin it.

Emily 1:21:59
Oh my god. I can’t imagine

Rachel 1:22:02
Britt. That was so well told. fucking amazing. I love it. great storyteller. If you have stories that are related to what we talked about in the podcast, if you’ve seen Robert the doll, if you police are related to a serial killer or had a close encounter anything like that, fucking send it to us horriblehistorypodcast@gmail.com.

Emily 1:22:21
You can also go on the website and there is a forum where you can easily submit a story through the forum. Yes. Or directly open an email.

Rachel 1:22:30
Horriblehistorypodcast.com. Yeah, cool. new website. We’re on social media @horriblehistorypod. We’ll link everything in the show notes. You know how to find us.

Emily 1:22:40
Yeah, check it out. And thank you so much for listening.

Rachel 1:22:44
Hopefully, you’re horrified.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai



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