If you've been looking forward to Netflix's new show The Watcher premiering on Thursday, you probably know the real-life story behind it. If not, the terrifying true story might give you a reason to go watch the show. Buckle up for some spooky details.
Derek and Maria Broaddus, the main characters of both real-life and fictional stories, had just started renovations in their new house at 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey when they received a strange letter addressed to "The New Owner". You might think it was a "welcome to the neighborhood" note. Well, not exactly.
An anonymous writer hiding under the pseudonym "The Watcher" indeed welcomed the new family to the neighborhood. But the rest of the letter gave Derek and Maria chills. The Watcher claimed that 657 Boulevard belonged to his family for decades and had been watched – whatever that might mean – by his ancestors. Now it was his turn to watch the house and the family living in it, and he clearly intended to take things seriously. He was not happy about the Broadduses renovating the house and gave hints about something evil hiding in its walls. The letter got extra creepy when the author of the letter described the couple's three children as "the young blood" and expressed his intention to kidnap the kids.
After reading this terrifying welcome note, the Broadduses called the police and contacted the previous owners of the house, who admitted to receiving a similar letter from The Watcher a few days before they moved out.
The next letter came two weeks later and was even more spine-chilling than the previous one. The Watcher described the layout of the house, listed the names and ages of the kids, and again hinted at their kidnapping. This was enough for the family to cancel moving in. After the Broadduses failed – to no surprise – to sell the house, they started renting it out. But the letters didn't stop and were apparently still addressed – as well as the author's rage – to the Broadduses. The Watcher gloated over their inability to find him. "I watched as you watched from the dark house in an attempt to find me," he wrote. And then he straight up threatened the family with physical harm.
The Broadduses kept renting out the house until they sold it in 2019, for $400,000 less than they paid in 2014. The horrific and somewhat unsatisfying end of the story is that there is no end. We still don't know who The Watcher was. Some pretty convincing theories are circulating around the internet, but none of them was confirmed.
Who knows, maybe with the Netflix series coming out, we might see new lines of inquiry open.