For the Love of God, Don’t Visit The Watcher House

Haunted houses aren’t just for Halloween carnivals anymore. Ryan Murphy’s newest Netflix series, The Watcher, takes on another true crime story. This time, the tale is less bloody thanMonster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Storybut frightening in a way that may hit closer to home.

The Watcher is Ryan Murphy’s dramatic flourish on terrifying events that took place at a home in New Jersey. For our purposes here, we’re taking on the true story. (The history behind the real haunting of The Watcher house is more complicated and less supernatural than the TV show would lead you to believe.) The real-life family The Watcher takes inspiration from, the Broadduses, bought a new home in Westfield, New Jersey in June 2014. They immediately received threatening letters in their mailbox, signed by someone who deemed themself the “Watcher.” The letters made it clear that someone was watching the family and threatening the safety of their children.

The situation caused the Broadduses a great deal of psychological distress, as it became apparent that they were being coerced into leaving their new home. Their experience was reported in The Cut, quickly becoming an Internet sensation. Although Murphy’s adaptation of the story includes connections with QAnon, supernatural entities, and secret passageways, the real-life story is disturbing enough on its own. And since this place actually exists, you may be wondering: what ended up happening to the The Watcher house?

Where Is the Watcher House and What Happened There?

The infamous Watcher House is located in an affluent suburban neighborhood. The home’s actual address is 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey. It’s where Derek and Maria Broaddus bought their dream house. They began renovating the house, painting and redecorating it. However, they hadn’t even moved into their new home, when threatening letters signed by the Watcher began to appear in their mailbox. These letters had no return address and were only addressed to “The New Owners.” This meant that the author of the letters had physically delivered them by hand. The family had just closed on the home only three days ago, when Derek found the first of the letters from the anonymous writer. The first letter included this passage:

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.

The note obviously disturbed the Broadduses, because it was clear that the person who wrote it had already begun surveilling them. The letter included details about the kind of car they drove, the contractors that were working on their home, and more unsettling, their children. As the letters continued, the family realized they were being terrorized by this anonymous person—and that they would be unrelenting in their attempt to drive the family out of the home. The Broadduses attempted to work with the police, lawyers, and even the local council to deal with the Watcher. But ultimately their only recourse was to sell their dream home. However, selling the house that became a local sensation for being stalked and entrenched in conflict was almost as difficult as keeping it. The Broadduses tried to be transparent with new buyers about the harassment from the Watcher, which didn’t bode well for potential buyers. The letters insinuated that the Watcher had been around for a long time… and would not ever leave them alone. The following passage from a letter details this threat:

“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.”

Unlike the family in Murphy’s adaptation of the story, The Broadduses never even managed to move into the home while they were being harassed. They valued the safety and peace of mind about their family more than the property. Who can blame them? And The Watcher was never caught.

Who Bought the Watcher House?

In order to sell the property, the Broadusses had to lower their selling price significantly. In 2019, the Watcher House was finally sold for $959,000 to an anonymous buyer. The Broaddus family lost $400,000 in the sale. Although it may have cost them to leave their dream home, they were also able to rid themselves of the nightmare of the Watcher. But if you’re morbidly curious as to what could have possibly happened if the Broadduses had moved into the infamous home? Well, Ryan Murphy’s serving up all that and more in The Watcher.

Sirena He is an editorial assistant and writer who focuses on media and culture. She is a lover of horror films and believes in the healing power of storytelling.

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