• Fraser du Toit

The Westfield Watcher - True Story Behind Netflix Show


This is a poster for the television miniseries The Watcher. The poster art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the television, Netflix, the publisher of the television or the graphic artist.

True-crime is one of the most popular genres in any media. Podcasts, books, blogs, vlogs, movies, and series all explore the dark side of human nature. Fictionalized retellings of true-crime tales are either perfect or horribly insensitive. Netflix has its fair share of controversy when it comes to series based on true-crime tales.

The Netflix series, The Watcher, is one of the few to not be received with discontent. While the series itself is quite terrifying in its implications, the real story of The Watcher is much worse. The Broaddus family moved into their dream home in Westfield, New Jersey in 2014. Soon that dream devolved into their own personal hell with the arrival of a letter from The Watcher.


Normal Family - Invisible Watcher


Young family watching Netflix The Watcher together
For legal reasons, this is a stock family. Pretend they're watching true-crime together

Derek and Maria Broaddus bought the six bedroom home at 657 Boulevard in 2014. They had been living in Manhattan before, where Derek was the Vice-President at an insurance company.

Maria grew up in Westfield, Derek in Maine. They had three kids when they moved into the massive home. Everything was going according to plan. Renovations were started up immediately to turn the house into their dream home.

That's when they received their first letter from the person calling themself The Watcher. Derek was home alone, painting, when he went out to check the mail. He found an envelope addressed to "The New Owners".

The Westfield Watcher started by welcoming the Broaddus' to the neighborhood. Derek quickly realized that the letter wasn't pleasant at all. Here are some excerpts from The Watcher's first letter as published in The Cut:


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.
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 too [sic] me.
Who am I?
There are hundreds and hundreds of cars that drive by 657 Boulevard each day. Maybe I am in one. Look at all the windows you can see from 657 Boulevard. Maybe I am in one. Look out any of the many windows in 657 Boulevard at all the people who stroll by each day. Maybe I am one.
Welcome my friends, welcome. Let the party begin
The Watcher.

Derek rushed to call the police. The officer who responded to his call read the letter and said, "What the fuck is this?"


Hunting The Watcher



Maria and Derek Broaddus weren't happy. They were in fact quite disturbed by the stalker they had inherited with the house. Derek rushed to their old home, where his family was planning to stay until the renovations on 657 Boulevard were completed.

They wrote an email to the couple who had owned the house before them, the Woods. Andrea Woods replied the next morning that they had lived in the house for 23 years and only received one weird letter towards the end of their stay. That letter had also been from The Watcher.

Andrea said that their letter had also mentioned something about The Watcher's family observing the house over generations. Her husband threw the letter away without much thought. Just an oddity to be moved past.

Maria convinced the Woods to accompany her to the Westfield police station. There they spoke to Detective Leonard Lugo, who advised them not to mention the letters to anyone. All of their neighbors were now suspects.

Derek and Maria spent the next few weeks anxious and alert. Maria wouldn't let the children wander too far when they visited the house, calling their names should they stray too far.

One day, while giving a tour of the house to a couple from the block, Derek's blood ran cold. The woman said:


“It’ll be nice to have some young blood in the neighborhood.”

The Second Letter - It Gets Personal


Soon Maria found another letter in the mailbox. She recognized the cardlike envelope and called the police. This time, The Watcher addressed them as Mr. and Mrs. Braddus. Although misspelled, the name was close enough for them to suspect that someone had overheard a contractor using it.

Adding to the unbelievable violation they already felt, The Watcher mentioned their children by name and in birth order. Here are some snippets as published in The Cut:


Welcome again to your new home at 657 Boulevard.
The workers have been busy and I have been watching you unload carfuls of your personal belongings. The dumpster is a nice touch. 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 Braddus 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 Broaddus family did not move into 657 Boulevard.


Theories


Westfield is the 99th most wealthy suburb in the USA, according to Bloomberg. Boulevard was the crown of Westfield, and 657 was the jewel at the heart of that crown.

When wealth like that gets thrown around, you can bet things get heated. Titanic egos clash when the uber-wealthy get excited about things. That's why the Broaddus couple initially thought that The Watcher was someone who had lost out in the bidding war to buy 657 Boulevard.

Andrea Woods proposed that it was likely someone in the neighborhood. Her suspicions are supported by the mention of contractors and the names of the children. They asked around, and the neighbors mentioned not really noticing the presence of the contractors as most of the renovations were interior.

The Watcher's letters were processed by a nearby post office as well. Another oddity is that the letter to the Woods was processed on June 4, before the sale had even been finalized. Making things even weirder is the fact that the Woods never put up a for sale sign announcing the property was for sale.

The Watcher's second letter mentioned seeing one of the Broaddus children painting on the porch. She had been using an easel which was hidden from the street by thick vegetation. Maria theorized that it could only have been seen by a neighbor.

Someone mentioned to Derek that their neighbor, the Langfords, were quite odd. The Langford family had moved in the 60s, roughly around the time that The Watcher claims their father began watching 657.

Richard Langford died in 2002, leaving his elderly wife and 6 adult children living in the house. This kind of works with The Watcher's claim that they had been watching the house for nearly two decades. One of those children had no job and seemed to be the oddest of the bunch, Michael Langford.

Police proved useless. They claimed to have interviewed Michael Langford. Without a confession, they claimed, the police department was unable to do anything. They told the Broaddus family to relax because it was likely that nothing was going to happen.


Hello Clarice - Hiring Outside Help


When have the police not been entirely useless? The Westfield police seemed to take the case of The Watcher about as serious as a report of a jay-walker.

Derek Broaddus contacted two former FBI agents. One was the inspiration for Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs, and the other was Robert Lenehan. Lenehan analyzed the letters and came to the conclusion that they were written by an older individual who was well-read.

Robert Lenehan was able to deduce that while the letters were full of anger, the writer wasn't "macho" because they didn't use any swear words. He speculated that the writer had watched the Keanu Reeves film, The Watcher, where a serial killer stalks the detective hunting him.

Police didn't want the help of investigators brought in by the Broaddus family. Their investigation stalled in 2014, and they stated that there was nothing that they could do.

Derek and Maria had alarm systems and cameras installed.

The letters continued.


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 it’s [sic] history. It cries for the past and what used to be in the time when I roamed it’s [sic] 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.

The Westfield Watcher has supplanted the Jersey Devil as the most popular local legend in New Jersey.

The mystery has never been solved.




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