For years, I worked as a nurse in a small mental hospital. Most of the people we got were voluntary – but on occasion, a criminal who'd pleaded insane was charged. Being someone who grew up in a small town, I'd never seen any crazy people, like the type that went into straight into a white jacket and a padded cell. However, there is a reason that I don't work in the hospital anymore. What happened now seems like an out-of-control horror story, the type that made me check on my daughter every night until it happened. I can't say that anything has or every will, disturb me as much as that man. His name is Matthew Davis, but he was known in the papers as "The Doll Man."
Police led in him with his hands cuffed behind him. If you'd have told me that man was a sick, twisted murderer, I never would've guessed. I couldn't imagine a more meek looking man. He was aged but the way you'd expect someone who was always happy to look, with deep smile lines and crow's feet. Sparse, mousy hair covered his head. A subtly hunched posture and an average frame. Of all his features, what stood out to me most were his eyes. They looked constantly wet, as if always on the verge of tears which stood starkly out of place on the rest of him. Most of all, they showed that he was never truly there, always staring slightly off into space. The portrait of a madman, but I hadn't known at the time what had resulted in his conviction.
Then he said, to no one in particular, "Where's my daughter? Is my Lucy here?"
I was still not convinced at that point that he was a cold-blooded killer, but I was told to escort him to one of our few padded cells and to have him put in a straightjacket. He didn't struggle once. All he did was stare blankly off with his wet, blue eyes. Well, I shouldn't say that was the only thing he did – he would talk to himself in his soft, quiet voice. He'd a have full conversations with an imaginary person, presumably his daughter, about the colour of the patch of sky he could see through his small window or all the things they could do when he came home. It saddened me, actually. There are few things in the world stronger than a parent's love.
As I was about to close the cell door, he suddenly looked up. For the first time, I felt as if he were actually looking directly into me, some much so that it became uncomfortable after less than half a second. What chilled me even more was what he said afterwards.
"I loved her, you know? My dear, sweet Lucy. She was the only thing... the only thing I had. The poor child, she was so fragile. So fragile and pale, like the porcelain dolls that I used to make. And just as beautiful. However, one day... she broke. I gathered her pieces, clothed her in a new dress, gave her new eyes and sat her up on a chair. She was still unhappy, so I made her smile again. I could tell that she was lonely, so I made her doll friends to sit by her. I gathered their pieces, clothed them in new dresses, gave them new eyes and sat them up on chairs..."
His momentary focus had dissolved away and he went back to mumbling to himself. I went home that day with an unsettling heaviness over my heart. My first mistake was to look up his name on the computer.
I was horrified. At least a hundred hits must've come up. There were headlines ranging from "Mysterious Kidnappings of Local Girls" to "Serial Killer – 'The Doll Man' – Caught". I wouldn't believe it at first. I couldn't. How could someone kidnap so many young girls without being caught? How could he murder all of them? Why? Little did I know it was only the tip of the iceberg.
Matthew Davis worked as a doll maker and lived with his only daughter, seven year old Lucy Davis. Lucy had a terminal illness and succumbed to it about two years before her father was detained. He was so distraught over her death that he denied it altogether. Instead, he cleaned up her corpse, dressed it and set up a tea party setting in what Lucy had called "the Dollhouse," a room filled with shelves full of dolls her father had made for her. He sewed up her lips so that they smiled grotesquely. He gouged out her actual eyes and replaced them with glass eyes. What's more was that he would continue to live as if she were still alive – feeding her, talking to her, tucking her into bed and when pieces of her fell off, sewing them back on.
Nevertheless, it wasn't enough for "Lucy." He believed that she was becoming lonely and wanted friends. To create these "friends", he would lure young girls around the age of six to eight with dolls and told them that he had many more they could play with in his house. From there, he would take them into his basement and cut them up only to sew them back together so they resembled his daughter's corpse. Dresses were made for them to wear and he clothed them after cleaning the blood from their fake, implanted eyes and stitched-up mouths. After his "doll making," he'd simulate a tea party for them with his daughter's corpse.
Constantly having to replace "dolls" was a problem. Consequently, the corpses started to rot and the smell was horrendous. Local newspapers had been alerted of the disappearances by this time as well, so the neighbourhood he lived in was constantly on the watch for the kidnapper. Eventually, he resorted to sneaking into the closets of his victims and stealing them away in the middle of the night. His actions amassed further panic amongst the community, causing him to move to evade the police. Many corpses that were in the later stages of decay were found in the river the next day, dresses and all.
He continued to repeat this pattern of murder-and-move for almost two years before he happened to be caught by a neighbour complaining about the pungent odour coming from his house.
My discovery had made me cautious and wary of him when I went back to work. Day in and day out, he did the same things – eat, sleep, talk and stare. I couldn't help feeling somewhat depressed by his unfortunate turn of events, while at the same feeling anger and hatred towards a human being who would do something so morbid. The scariest part of all of it was that he didn't know what he was doing was wrong, he was still trying to make his dead daughter happy.
I became paranoid with his story. I told myself he would never be discharged, but that didn't stop me from checking on my daughter every single day and night. Every day I saw his smiling face talking under his breath in that soft, wispy voice I was relieved and considerably more tense all at the same time. I was then assigned to a different ward and my mind settled. The days wore on and soon I forgot all about him.
But the day came when he was discharged. I found out only a few days afterward while on a night shift from overhearing the other staff. A sudden, violent bout of nausea descended upon me and the room spun in slow, surreal circles around me. I ran out of the hospital, completely forgetting everything and raced home, the speed limit was the last thing on my mind.
I fumbled with the keys in my haste to open the door, my pulse quickening and my heartbeat becoming a deafening noise in my head. She has to be okay, she has to be, she has to... I thought. That one thought was the only thing in my mind. I called out to her from the door and felt my heart drop into my stomach. Running to her room, I threw the door open to see her form covered in blankets, already sleeping. I sighed loudly out of relief. The sheer terror that had taken hold of me turned into a mental laugh at my ridiculousness. I smiled as I went to her bed and gently rolled her over.
Her glassy eyes stared back up at me, her mouth stitched up and smiling. The last thing I remember was seeing the wet eyes staring directly me at me from the corner of the room before everything turned black.