True Crime Sunday: The Watcher

Picture it: you find the perfect house and agree to the million dollars plus price tag. While you’re getting the house ready for your things and family, you get a letter. “How nice,” you might think. “A welcome from the neighbors.” Well… maybe yes or maybe no. Definitely no if you’re the family in today’s story. I have some wild stuff for you this week! Buckle up.

In 2014, Derek and Maria Broaddus purchased a beautiful old house in Westfield, New Jersey. They surely thought the house built in 1905 would be perfect for them and their three children. And it could have been. But it wasn’t.

Things started to go sideways before the family even moved in. They had contractors coming through the house while planning to have work done. Soon after, the Broaddus family received one of their first pieces of mail at their new home.

According to huntakiller.com, the first letter read:

“Dearest new neighbor at 657 Boulevard,

Allow me to welcome you to the neighborhood.

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.”

As you may imagine, Derek and Maria were pretty unsettled by this. Derek contacted the police and the previous owners of the house, John and Andrea Woods. When he asked them if they received any letters, they responded that they only got one right before they moved out. Their letter indicated that the so-called Watcher instructed them to get some young blood into the house.

At this point, the family decided to proceed with their plans. However, it certainly didn’t help their stress level when a neighbor who toured the house said something to the effect of “it will be nice to have some young blood in the neighborhood.” Yikes.

A few weeks later, a second letter arrived. Huntakiller.com reports it read:

“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.”

After the second letter, the Broaddus family hired investigators to find out who was sending the creepy letters. Creepy feels like an understatement here. Theories included the sender being someone who wanted the house but lost out, the next-door neighbors, or a nosy, cranky neighbor kicking things up a notch. Nothing came from those theories.

Derek set up cameras and alarms and kept watch late at night. Nothing.

The family decided to sell the house six months after buying it because the letters were taking a hefty toll on their mental and physical health. However, rumors were flying about the house and The Watcher, so no one wanted to buy it. They decided to rent it out.

The renters then received a letter. Also from huntakiller.com, it read:

“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!!!”

Though they wanted to years before, the Broaddus family finally sold their home in 2019 at a huge loss. Surely that loss was worth it to be rid of the house. The new owners have declined to share whether they’ve received any interesting mail.

Who the heck sent those letters? What’s the story behind them? And what’s supposed to be in the walls? Also, what was up with the neighbor? “Getting young blood” is common enough I suppose, but still a weird thing to say.

The identity of The Watcher is unknown, and will likely remain so. When I first heard this story and again when I read the letters in preparation for this blog, I thought of the letter from the Axeman of New Orleans. Though the incidents took place nearly a century apart, they seem to have a similar vibe—an upsetting combination of otherworldliness and grandiosity. Do you suppose Westfield is a big jazz city?

What’s on the agenda for next week? Come back next week and see what disconcerting story I have for you.

***Cover image credit: Reader’s Digest***

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