What Is The Watcher House?

New Jersey seems to be the home for weird and creepy events. Jersey had its own mythical creature, a deadly theme park, and a rumored portal to another world. Now, there's another mystery haunting New Jersey. It doesn't feature  ghosts, aliens, or devils, but one man called "The Watcher," who's made life hell for one family in the formerly safe town of Westfield.

A new family moves in

In 2014, Derek and Maria Broaddus bought a six-bedroom Westfield mansion for $1.3 million, and thought it would be the perfect place for their three children to grow up. But a few days after moving in on June 2, they received a mysterious letter. According to The Washington Post, the letter read, "My grandfather watched the house in the 1920s and my father watched in the 1960s. It is now my time. I have been put in charge of watching and waiting for its second coming." It went on to say, "Do you need to fill the house with the young blood I requested? Once I know their names I will call to them and draw them out to me." Not quite the welcome wagon they were looking for.

They received two more letters on June 18th and July 18th. These letters contained freaky tidbits like: "Have they found out what is in the walls yet? In time they will ... I am pleased to know your names now and the name of the young blood you have brought to me ... Will the young bloods play in the basement?" The writer also hoped to get some info to make his stalking a little easier. "Who has the bedrooms facing the street? I'll know as soon as you move in ... It will help me to know who is in which bedroom then I can plan better."

How could the stalker possibly see who's living in which room? One letter said "All of the windows and doors in 657 Boulevard allow me to watch you and track you as you move through the house. One part of the note was extra-threatening, as it proved that the stalker was watching the home improvements the Broaddus' were making. "You have changed it and made it so fancy. It cries for the past and what used to be in the time when I roamed its halls ... When I ran from room to room imagining the life with the rich occupants there ... And now I watch and wait for the day when the young blood will be mine again."

In the final piece of Batman villain-esque writing, he wrote "Who am I? I am the Watcher."

The Broaddus family sues

Not surprisingly, the Broaddus family wasn't keen to hang around a place that had a stalker yearning for "young blood." Though they made improvements on the home, they never actually moved in, too scared by the creepy letters. The family claims that they tried to sell the home, according to NJ.com, but when they disclosed the Watcher's existence to potential buyers, people backed away slowly, then presumably sped away in their cars, screams drowning out the radio.

According to the Broaddus family, they reached out to the former owners of the home, the Woods, and told them about their creep-town letter. Allegedly, the Woods said they got one letter, but it wasn't threatening, so they threw it away. But the Broaddus family took that to mean the Woods knew about the Watcher and chose not to disclose it to potential new owners. So, they sued, as per documents obtained by Gawker.

One letter, according to the Broaddus family's complaint, said "I asked the Woods to bring me young blood...[I] have been in control of 657 Boulevard for the better part of two decades now. The Woods family turned it over to you it was their time to move on and kindly sold it when I asked them to." Though the Woods (again, all of this according to the complaint) did admit to receiving the one letter, they completely denied any wrongdoing and counter-sued the Broaddus family, stating they've been damaged by all the negative press, reports NJ.com.

Police do an exhaustive search, turn up nothing

The police didn't want to leave the neighborhood in fear of the villainous Watcher. So, they did an "exhaustive" search, as per NJ.com. They found a few leads and confirmed the existence of the Broaddus family's three letters, as further reported by NJ.com. But, the cops said they weren't aware of any other letters being sent to the Woods, or other previous owners.

The only real clue that was disclosed was a bit of DNA evidence. Sources told The Westfield Leader (as reported by NJ), that the letter contained female DNA, and it didn't match Mrs. Broaddus. So, the Watcher could be a lady, but who or where she is wasn't disclosed. Thus far, no one has been charged with anything in the case, and no suspects have been revealed.

Try to tear it down

Since the Broaddus family couldn't sell the house, and they didn't feel like being watched every hour of the day, they decided to tear the place down. The family asks the city if they can destroy the creepy house and build two smaller homes on the lot. Now, you'd figure that the town would be fine with this idea. After all, who wants to have a creepo house in their neighborhood?

But, no. The neighbors were not pleased — nearby resident Ed Israelow said to NJ, "I think it's a terrible application. It would be terrible for the neighborhood ... It would be out of character for the neighborhood." Most of the other neighbors agreed — the idea of having two smaller homes on this street of near mansions was just too disturbing. Sure, they might have to put up with one insane stalker, but at least the lane would still look nice.

The city sided with the residents, and declined the Broaddus family's request to demolish the house. So, the Broaddus family sued, according to CBS. Now with suits against the Woods family and the city of Westfield, the Watcher gave them quite the legal headache. Residents are united against the Broaddus family's complaint. They seemed to have little sympathy for a family receiving Hannibal Lecter-level threats.

Previous homeowners deny the Watcher's existence

Part of the reason that the city of Westfield may seem so heartless towards the Broaddus family is that this whole thing might be made up.

657 Boulevard was built in 1905, and it's been steadily inhabited ever since, according to NJ.com. None of the previous owners (save for the one "non-threatening" note the Woods received) heard anything from any of the supposed long line of Watchers. The Westfield Leader interviewed former 657 resident Moggie Bakes Davis, who lived in the house from 1963-1988. On living there, she said "We had a wonderful time. No 'Watcher' issues or any other crazy stuff." Davis even held her wedding reception in the backyard and didn't receive any untoward wedding letters.

Davis wasn't the only one who enjoyed her time in the stalker house. Bill Schaeffer lived there from 1955 to 1963 and never experienced any issues. He told Gothamist, "I think it's all just a farce. Somebody's mad at someone about something, or somebody's in over their head. I don't know what's going on. Nobody's been watching that house for a hundred years! The whole thing's absurd."

Rumors and theories

Since the cops have come up empty, people have developed theories of their own. On Reddit, someone speculated that the Broaddus family just wants their money back, while still maintaining ownership of the house. "The screams scam," said self-appointed expert LordFlutterNutter. If they don't think it's the owners themselves orchestrating this scheme, others think a rival real estate dealer is behind the letters, as per NJ.com. That way, they can drive the price of the house way down, then scoop it up for themselves.

Others speculate it's all just some viral marketing scheme, or a Hollywood exec who wants to make this into the next "Amityville Horror." There's some slight truth to this, since a number of big time movie people have allegedly expressed interest in turning The Watcher into a major film. The Tracking Board reported that Blumhouse, New Line, and Universal were all interested in bringing this horrific tale to life. That article was from 2015, though, and nothing has been announced since, but that doesn't mean we won't see a Watcher movie starring Jackie Earle Haley in our near future. Still, it's doubtful that any of those companies would go to all the effort to create this whole ruse just for a horror pic. Universal has more "Transformers" films to make — they don't have time for New Jersey.

One interesting rumor posits that the Watcher lives in the neighborhood. Andrew Smith told NJ, "A lot of neighbors, they all think they know who it is, someone who lives locally." Gothamist received an email that stated: "So ... heard from a friend who knows someone who lives on that street in New Jersey. The Watcher is a local crazy who lives on the street and harasses everyone. Apparently he's an adult son of a couple living on the street. Everyone who lives there knows who it is and no one will speak up because they're afraid he'll genuinely retaliate. The guy's parents defend him and think he's harmless, when in reality he makes life uncomfortable and annoying for everyone in the neighborhood. He probably hasn't actually broken any laws, so the police will do nothing." A Gothamist reporter went to Westfield to try to find out more, but most residents said they didn't know of any "local crazy," though lots of them didn't want to speak at all about the Watcher.

Horace Corbin of the Westfield Leader feels this rumor has no merit. He thinks it's more suspicious that the Broaddus family has had 12 mortgages in the past ten years, and hasn't heard any complaints about an unhinged person on the loose. No matter which theory the town of Westfield believes, they all seemed pretty chill about the whole thing. No one was really afraid, or seemed too worried about a potential nutjob living among them. Probably because they were left out of the Watcher's threats.

There's a new resident in the house

The Broaddus family tried to put the house for sale again in 2016, as per The Washington Post, but the charming six bedroom with four fireplaces still didn't move. Luckily, they did find a renter. In February 2017, a man who would only go by "Chris" was living in the house with his three dogs. Apparently, he never read any of the news about the notorious house and, though he was aware of the Watcher's letters, he said (via NJ.com), "That is not my issue." Sure, he lives in a house that was allegedly threatened by a psycho, but "Chris" probably didn't have much "young blood" around, so he's cool.

Letter number four

The house remained empty since the Watcher's letters arrived and, for three years, the stalker remained silent. In February 1, 2017, a new fella ("Chris") moves in and, by February 20th, the Watcher returned to his pen and ink. The Broaddus family received a fourth letter that, according their lawyer, is the worst one yet, reported NJ.com. "This letter contained specific threats and was more derogatory and sinister than any of the previous letters." The content of the letter wasn't disclosed, and police declined to comment on any specifics or new information on the case.

Reporters previously interviewed "Chris" and got only a lackadaisical "not my issue" response back. When NJ went back to the home after the latest letter broke, "No one answered the door at the house." Though we can't be sure if the Watcher's watching (or if Hollywood still is), we can be sure that New Jersey will never disappoint with the creepy stories.

The house sold in 2019 for thousands less than the original value

The Broaddus family finally found a buyer for the house in 2019, though the sale might not have been the relief they hoped it could be when numbers were compared. According to NJ.com, Andrew and Allison Carr bought the infamous house on July 1 of that year for $959,360. The Broadduses had initially listed it with a $1.25 million price tag in 2016. The final sale price was almost $400,000 less than what the Broadduses originally paid for it.

The Cut reported that the $400,000 loss didn't include the realtor's cut of the sale, or the thousands that the Broadduses had sunk into the house through taxes, utilities, renovations, investigations, and lawsuits. Derek Broaddus shared a mortgage payment with The Cut: over $5,000 for a house he had never lived in.

After closing the sale, the Broadduses passed on a note to the Carrs through their real estate attorney, wishing them the joy in the house they once hoped to have themselves. They also included a photo of one of the Watcher letters to aid in identifying handwriting should any more messages come. While the Carrs declined to speak about the house's history in 2019, as of October 2022, no new letters have come.

The Broadduses wanted to close the case

The Broaddus family seems keen on putting the whole Watcher business behind them. According to The Cut, they sold the house in 2019 for a significant loss and without the guarantee they once sought that the home would be demolished. When Netflix sought to adapt their story, they declined any direct involvement. Their only given reason for selling the rights was that a Lifetime movie had already told their story without permission and with just enough changes to avoid legal woes; signing a deal would at least offer them some control over how they were depicted.

The family requested that Netflix change their names and cast people who didn't look like them and suggested that the house get torched in the show. They've stated they have no plans to watch it. They also didn't get rich off the deal, contrary to what their neighbors have suspected; Netflix's check couldn't even cover their losses on the house.

According to NJ.com, the Broadduses still live in Westfield and still have to contend with their neighbors suspecting them of making millions off the streaming service or having faked the entire thing. Detective Barron Chambliss, at least, wishes them well. "I think they made a lot of sacrifices to buy what they deemed to be their dream home," he said. "Somebody came in and kind of screwed it up for them."