The Watcher of Westfield NJ
In June of 2014, Derek and Maria Broaddus had just closed on their $1.3 million, six-bedroom dream home in Westfield, New Jersey. The house was only a few blocks from Maria's childhood home and Derek had just become senior vice-president at an insurance company in Manhattan which allowed him a salary large enough to affrod the home. They bought the property only days after Derek's 40th birthday and joyously began moving all of their belongings into their 657 Boulevard home. One evening, as Derek was finishing a day of painting inside the house, he went outside to check the mailbox, where he found an envelope that was addressed to “The New Owner” in thick and clunky handwriting. It read in part:
Dearest new neighbor at 657 Boulevard,
Allow me to welcome you to the neighborhood. How did you end up here? Did 657 Boulevard call to you with its force within?
657 Boulevard has been the subject of my family for decades now and as it approaches its 110th birthday, I have been put in charge of watching and waiting for its second coming. My grandfather watched the house in the 1920s and my father watched in the 1960s. It is now my time. Do you know the history of the house? Do you know what lies within the walls of 657 Boulevard? Why are you here? I will find out.”
I see already that you have flooded 657 Boulevard with contractors so that you can destroy the house as it was supposed to be. Tsk, tsk, tsk … bad move. You don’t want to make 657 Boulevard unhappy. You have children. I have seen them. So far I think there are three that I have counted, are there more on the way? Do you need to fill the house with the young blood I requested? Better for me. Was your old house too small for the growing family? Or was it greed to bring me your children? Once I know their names I will call to them and draw them to me.
Who am I? Hundreds of cars pass by the house every single day. Maybe I am in one. Check all of the windows that can be seen from 657 Boulevard. Perhaps I am in one.
Welcome my friends, welcome. Let the party begin.
There was no return address and no clue as to who had sent the letter, but the message was clear. Derek quickly called the police and the arriving officer was dumbfounded by the story. The officer advised Derek of some the basic steps to take to reduce the threat, but nothing more could be done at that time. Derek returned to his family at their former home and emailed the previous owners, John and Andrea Woods. They replied the next morning that in the 23 years they had lived at the house that they had never received any letters of this sort, until a few days before they had transferred the property to the Broaddus family. While the letter had a similar tone to the one Derek had received, they regarded it as a prank and discarded it. Both parties went to the police together, and a detective advised them to keep the letters a secret so as not to tip off any of the neighbors about the ongoing investigation.
Things were quiet for the next few weeks, with the family being very watchful and guarded. Construction and renovations continued throughout this time also. Then, Maria found another envelope, this time addressing the Broaddus’ by name. The author seemed to know more about the family this time, mentioning the workmanship on the property, knowing the nicknames and ages of their three children. It read in part:
Welcome again to your new home at 657 Boulevard. The workers have been busy and I have been watching you unload careful of your personal belongings. The dumpster is a nice touch. The house is crying from all of the pain it is going through. You have changed it and made it so fancy. You are stealing its history. It cries for the past and what used to be in the time when I roamed its halls. The 1960s were a good time for 657 Boulevard when I ran from room to room imagining the life with the rich occupants there. The house was full of life and young blood. Then it got old and so did my father. But he kept watching until the day he died. And now I watch and wait for the day when the young blood will be mine again.
Have they found 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. You certainly say their names often. 657 Boulevard is anxious for you to move in. It has been years and years since the young blood ruled the hallways of the house. Have you found all of the secrets it holds yet? Will the young blood play in the basement? Or are they too afraid to go down there alone? I would [be] very afraid if I were them. It is far away from the rest of the house. If you were upstairs you would never hear them scream.
Will they sleep in the attic? Or will you all sleep on the second floor? 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.
All of the windows and doors in 657 Boulevard allow me to watch you and track you as you move through the house. Who am I? I am the Watcher and 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.
I pass by many times a day. 657 Boulevard is my job, my life, my obsession. And now you are too Broaddus family. Welcome to the product of your greed! Greed is what brought the past three families to 657 Boulevard and now it has brought you to me.
Have a happy moving in day. You know I will be watching.
The Derek later learned about an eccentric family who lived next-door to them, the Langford’s, who had a long history in the area. The detective said that the Langford family’s reputation was already known, and that they had already been questioned about the first letter. The detective said Mr. Langford denied all knowledge of the letter, and that his speaking manner and mental disorders convinced the detective he was not able to write in the same fashion as the letter’s author. Investigations continued.
Several weeks after the second letter was received, a third letter appeared. This time, there were more comments directly commenting on the actions of the Broaddus family and the fact that the parents had stopped bringing the children to the house out of fear.
657 Boulevard is turning on me. It is coming after me. I don’t understand why. What spell did you cast on it? It used to be my friend and now it is my enemy. I am in charge of 657 Boulevard. It is not in charge of me. I will fend off its bad things and wait for it to become good again. It will not punish me. I will rise again. I will be patient and wait for this to pass and for you to bring the young blood back to me. 657 Boulevard needs young blood. It needs you. Come back. Let the young blood play again like I once did. Let the young blood sleep in 657 Boulevard. Stop changing it and let it alone.
Using some of the comments as clues to the knowledge level of the author of these letters, they begin to conduct their own investigation. The Broaddus family set up a new security alarm system around the house, with webcams watching different areas to notice any unusual activities or to catch any trespassers. Derek would even stake out his own property and he hired private investigators to perform background checks on the Langford’s, but they found nothing substantial.
Derek also reached out to a former FBI Agent, Robert Lenehan, who provided an analysis of the threat level, as well as a psychological profile of the author. Lenehan felt that whoever wrote the letters was well-read and that the absence of vulgar language was surprising. He considered the author to be erratic based on a couple of spelling errors but would be unlikely to follow through on any threats. The profiler concluded that it was someone in their 50's or 60's, who lived nearby, and who was less-macho than what most people might suspect. Lenehan concluded with a recommendation that they look into any former housekeepers of the property, or their descendants.
The investigation continued with the focus on the Langford family for a time, but nothing seemed to come from it. Conversations with lawyers were also not productive and police continued to perform background checks on the entire neighborhood. There were a few unusual findings, but nothing that would lead to any solid speculation and by the end of 2014, the investigation had stalled.
Financially stricken, the Broaddus family were forced to continue to pay mortgage and expenditures on a house they did not want to live in and had to move in with Maria’s parents. Concerned for their physical safety and for the health of their marriage, Maria and Derek decided that they needed to sell the house. Six months after The Watcher’s first letter arrived, the house was put back on the market. However, with the high asking price and the media coverage made the house difficult to sell. Local gossip would also deter interested buyers.
So, one year after originally buying the house, Derek and Maria filed a legal suit against the Woods. They insisted that the law required full disclosure of the stalking letter the Woods received just prior to closing. They claimed fraudulent concealment, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and several other issues related to the sale of the property. Judge Camille M. Kenny threw out the charges and dismissed the case, stating that he didn't want to enforce a burden on future sellers on what they need to disclose to buyers.
In a last resort plan, the Broaddus family attempted to get permission from the city’s planning board to raze the house and divide the property into two separate lots for new homes. The board unanimously rejected the proposal, citing issues with lighting and with the potential harm to trees along adjoining property. However, the Broaddus family was able to find a family who agreed to rent the house, having grown children and two large dogs. This only offset the mortgage payments but did not cover them completely. Then two weeks later, the renters handed Derek an envelope that had just arrived with another threatening letter. This message was specifically addressed to Derek and Maria, although it also mentioned the renters.
Violent winds and bitter cold to the vile and spiteful Derek and his wench of a wife Maria,
You wonder who The Watcher is? Turn around idiots. Maybe you even spoke to me, one of the so called neighbors who has no idea who The Watcher could be. Or maybe you do know and are too scared to tell anyone. Good move. I walked by the news trucks when they took over my neighborhood and mocked me.
I watched as you watched from the dark house in an attempt to find me … Telescopes and binoculars are wonderful inventions. 657 Boulevard survived your attempted assault and stood strong with its army of supporters barricading its gates. My soldiers of the Boulevard followed my orders to a T. They carried out their mission and saved the soul of 657 Boulevard with my orders. All hail The Watcher!!!
The Watcher also alluded to getting revenge in one form or another.
Maybe a car accident. Maybe a fire. Maybe something as simple as a mild illness that never seems to go away but makes you fell sick day after day after day after day after day. Maybe the mysterious death of a pet. Loved ones suddenly die. Planes and cars and bicycles crash. Bones break.
This would be the last sinister correspondence from The Watcher, and neither the Broaddus family nor subsequent tenants has received any more such threatening letters since they left, leaving the baffling, mysterious case in total darkness. The house was put the house back on the market in March of 2016 and the Broaddus family was finally able to resell their home August of 2019, for $960,000, a fraction of the original price taking a $400,000 loss on the property. The new homeowners have chosen to stay anonymous.