They're Just Toys... Right?

by Saul Figueroa


Are you afraid of dolls? If so, you may want to cross this spot off your vacation list. Xochimilco, an island just south of Mexico City, is populated by hundreds of dolls. They can be found in trees, on the ground, hanging in wires, and in small huts; they are there to stay.

According to, the original caretaker of the island, Don Julian Santana Barrera, started the act when he found out that a little girl drowned in one of the canals of the island. He later also found a doll floating in a pond near the canal, and assumed in belonged to the girl. This motivated him to take the doll and hang it on a tree out of respect for the little girl.

Don Julian was later apparently haunted by the girl. In an attempt to please her spirit, he started to hang more dolls on wires and in trees. It was then that Don Julian was seized by the notion that the dolls he hanged were possessed by the spirits of other dead girls. He then continued to hang more and more dolls over the entire island.

According to, in April of 2001, Don Julian expressed his concern to his nephew that it was becoming more difficult for him to resist the ‘strange’ voices that beckoned him to their ‘watery grave.’ After 50 years of this repetitive act of hanging dolls, his nephew found Don Julian dead; he drowned in the same very spot where the little girl also drowned. It is said that his spirit has joined the mass of possessed dolls.

Whether or not this act of hanging dolls was psychopathic or not is still a controversial topic today. Many feel that it was an innocent act that slowly deteriorated into one of blackest intent and obsession.

Don Julian’s death has transformed the island of Xochimilco into a tourist attraction, and has since been the subject of ghost-hunting expeditions. People claim to hear the dolls whispering, urging them to come onto the island. Many have even caught the dolls moving their limbs or opening and closing their eyes on camera.

The ‘Ghost Adventures’ crew has done a few videos about the haunted island. These dolls have long-since run out of battery if they even had any. This made the idea that the dolls were possessed even more believable when the Ghost Adventures crew caught the dolls laughing on camera. One of the crew members even had small bruises on his arms that looked suspiciously like, “babies fingers,” as said by

Speculation runs rampant about whether or not Don Julian imagined these nightmarish accounts. Many discard the idea that he was speaking to spirits and dead girls, calling him a crazy old man. Maybe it’s true, that something darker brought him this pain and demonic view on life. However, there is no denying that these dolls were really meant to protect Xochimilco and Don Julian from the beckoning of the deep, dark canals.