Mystery – The Watcher

Picture it; you and your family decide to buy a new home so that you have more space, or it’s perhaps to enjoy the affluence of a richer neighborhood. You find the perfect home and before you can officially move in, you get an anonymous letter that makes all the hairs on your head stand up because it is personal, but you didn’t share all this information with anyone, how could anyone know all this? Apparently, The Watcher knows.

It started with a letter, Derek and Maria Broaddus had purchased the 110-year-old mansion at 657 Boulevard, Westfield, NJ. They purchased in for a cool $1.3 million and planned to decorate the house over the summer before moving in.

After getting the keys, Derek was doing some painting at the new house and found a letter inside, assuming it was a welcome note he opened it and read it:

Dearest new neighbor at 657 boulevard, allow me to welcome you to the neigborhood. … 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 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.”

Was this a prank? Or was there something more to the new house? The Broaddus’ decided to ignore the letter and pretend it was just a prank. Since the writer of the letter, The Watcher, said that his family had been watching the house for decades, the Broaddus’ chose to contact the sellers and Andrea Woods said that The Watcher had contacted them but only once while moving out of the house and thanking them for looking after the place. They had lived in the house for 23 years, and only were contacted once.

Derek and Maria Broaddus, along with Andrea Wood went to the police who advised them to not tell people about the letter. The police confirmed the letter was processed on June 4th, before the public announcement of the sale. That narrowed the suspects to the local neighbors. Derek and Maria were now in a paranoid game of whodunit.

A few days after the letter, Derek invited a local couple in to see the renovations on the house. The woman stated casually ” “It’ll be nice to have some young blood in the neighborhood.” Derek didn’t want to confront the couple about their comment, and he didn’t want to appear like a madman, but was this couple The Watcher?

One of their neighbors was telling Derek and Maria about their other neighbor, The Langford’s. They were considered a bit strange. When asked further, the Broaddus’ were informed that the mother Peggy Langford was in her nineties and lived in the house with all her grown children who were in their sixties. One of her children was named Michael, and he a single, unemployed man who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia in his youth.

Since the timing of the Langford’s moving into the neighborhood fit with the timeline of The Watcher; they moved in in the 1960’s and Michael’s father passed away 12 years prior. Derek felt this was the answer they were looking for and he informed the police, who were already aware of the lead. Michael was interviewed a few days later and denied any involvement.

But then another letter arrived.

Two weeks after the first letter, Maria received the next letter.

“Mr. and Mrs. Braddus. 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 … [One child had been painting on an easel in the backyard] … Is she the artist in the family? … 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.”

Derek and Maria were terrified and felt they knew who it was but there was nothing that could be done. And then another letter arrived.

“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.”

Six months after the first letter arrived, Derek and Maria decided to sell their dream home and since their old house had sold, they moved in with Maria’s parents.

But now the rumors had started and spread; real estate agents had heard stories of a sexual predator or even stories of past murders and ghosts. Since Derek and Maria offered to lower the price of the house and then show the letters before a new buyer committed to the purchase. This gave them pause as they wondered if they would have purchased the house if the Woods had shown them the letter they received when moving out. They decided to file a lawsuit that the Woods had withheld information that put their children’s lives at risk.

The downside was that the story became a media circus, the upside was more information was being shared and learned.

Besides Michael Langford there were some new theories as to who The Watcher is:

  • Abby Langford – Abby is Michael’s sister and the DNA on the envelope showed it belonged to a female. She was a real estate agent and may have been angry about the loss of the commission from the sale.
  • The Unknown Neighbor – 18 months after the first letter, the Broaddus’ had to reduce the asking price for the house extremely low to attract any interest in the house. This they felt was the point from the start. Ruin the property value out of jealousy from losing the house.
  • Derek and Maria Broaddus – The internet theory is that they had buyer’s remorse and had hoped to get out of the purchase. Another theory was that they were looking for a movie deal (Amityville Horror) and it’s true they finally agreed to a deal with Netflix.

Before Netflix came in to save the day, the family needed to find a way to keep the debt collectors away. They came up with the solution: rent out the house.

A family was brave enough to move in with a clause that allowed the renters to leave without penalty if The Watcher continued his games. It didn’t take 2 weeks before another letter arrived.

“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!!!

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. You are despised by the house and The Watcher won.”

The renters agreed to stay if security cameras were installed. However, they didn’t stay for very long and it continued to fail in attracting buyers. And since the town of Westfield were no longer supportive of the Broaddus family, they often would blame them for ruining the town’s reputation.

In December of 2017, several card-sized envelopes were sent to area residents chastising them for attacking the Broaddus family. The writer was similar to the original Watcher but in 2018, Derek admitted it was him. Is this his way of admitting he was the original author of The Watcher letters?

Eventually the house sold in 2019 and the Broaddus’ took a $400,000 loss. The house may be sold, but the mystery remains, who was the Watcher and what did they actually want?

Stay Curious my Friends!

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