Skip to main content

Who is 'The Watcher'? The sinister figure who terrorised a family home

A photo showing a person peeking through some blinds, looking at a house

In June 2014, Derek and Maria Broaddus purchased their dream home, a multi-million dollar colonial-style home boasting six bedrooms, four bathrooms, a double garage, a large yard and even a sunroom that drew in light for most of the day. The home was on 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey and cost a hefty $1.3-million, but for the family, it was priceless.

They were just preparing to move into their new spacious abode when, days after their purchase, a single letter was delivered to the family home. It was from somebody who identified themselves as ‘The Watcher’. In the letter, he informed the Broaddus family that their new home “has been the subject of my family for decades” adding that “I have be [sic] put in charge of watching and waiting for its second coming.”

In the letter, The Watcher claimed that it was his father and his grandfather before him who watched the house on 657 Boulevard. He warned the Broaddus family: “It is now my time… you don’t want to make 657 Boulevard unhappy.” The letter continued, with The Watcher writing that he had informed the previous owner of the home, the Woods family, to bring “young blood” before menacing: “Have they found what is in the walls yet? In time they will.”

The letter read in part: “Who has the bedrooms facing the street? I’ll know as soon as you move in…. then I can plan better. I am pleased to know your names now and the name of the young blood you have brought me.”

While the letter left Derek and Maria feeling uneasy, initially they thought that it was just a very disturbing prank. In time, however, more letters of the same nature continued to be delivered. In another one that arrived the same year, The Watcher informed the Broaddus’ that the previous owners, John and Andrea Woods, had put the house on the market because “it was their time to move on and kindly sold it when I asked them to".

One letter mentioned Derek and Maria’s three children, asking them: “Do you need to fill the house with the young blood I requested? Once I know their names I will call to them and draw them too [sic] me.” In another letter, The Watcher made it clear to the family that he was watching them, writing: “You have changed it and made it so fancy. It cries for the past and what used to be in the time when I roamed its halls… When I ran from room to room imagining the life with the rich occupants there. And now I watch and wait for the day when the young blood will be mine again."

According to the couple, the letters left them “consumed daily by stress, anxiety, and fear regarding what The Watcher will do.” They were left so petrified that they ultimately fled from the home, never to return. They said that they were “unable to live in the home without extreme anxiety and fear for their children’s safety and wellbeing".

They put the home up for sale, but word of The Watcher had already spread through Westfield like wildfire and nobody wanted to purchase the home.

In June 2015, the Broaddus’ took the home off the market and filed a lawsuit against the former owners of the home, as well as the real estate company that sold the house. In the lawsuit, they claimed that the previous owners were so desperate to sell that they covered up the “claim of a right of possession and/or ownership of the home and its nefarious intentions”. They also accused the previous owners of not telling them about a person with a “mentally disturbed fixation” on the house.

The couple asked the previous owners to refund them for the purchase of the home and pay punitive damages.

By the time of the lawsuit, police had already been contacted, and they conducted an exhaustive investigation but it still remained a mystery as to who was sending the letters and why. The Union County Prosecutor’s Office was also called in to investigate, with spokesman Mark Spivey commenting: “We also would urge anyone who receives correspondence of any nature that they feel is threatening to contact the police immediately.”

The chilling letters were addressed by Westfield Mayor Andrew Skibitsky during a township council. They hadn’t just terrified the family at 657 Boulevard, but the entire town, who were left fearing that they could become the next family to be hounded.

The former owners of the home fought back. They accused Derek and Maria of making the entire story up and said that the lawsuit against them should be dismissed. Their attorney, Richard Kaplow, said his clients had been defamed over the allegations made in the lawsuit. In a court filing, they said that they had received one single anonymous note days before the home sold, but they denied that the letter was disturbing, nor did the letter writer claim ownership of the home.

Their attorney stated in the media: “My clients have gone through having to experience serious allegations that have made their way to the internet. They have been embarrassed and humiliated and subject to public ridicule."

As the two families battled it out in court, 657 Boulevard was put back on the market. It was listed at $1.25 million, and in the listing, the home was described as sitting on nearly a half-acre, with an elegant foyer and high ceilings and fireplaces as well as a newly remodelled basement. There were a handful of viewers, mostly just curious onlookers, but there were no offers on the seemingly-haunted home.

In August 2016, a Superior Court judge rejected plans the Woods’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit against them. The judge also indicated there was little evidence that the Woods' knew that somebody was stalking the home. Judge Camille M. Kenny threw out some of the claims that the Broaddus’ had made, including their contention that the Woods' intentionally caused emotional distress when they sold the home to them.

The judge dismissed the claim against the real estate agent from Coldwell Banker who had sold the home to the Broaddus'. The estate agent had been accused of consumer fraud and inflicting emotional distress.

This decision meant that the lawsuit against the Woods' could proceed.

The following month, Derek and Maria Broaddus sought to have the home demolished and instead, build two new homes on the land. It had become apparent that nobody wanted to purchase the home, with the couple’s attorney, Lee Levitt, stating: "We have had offers, but once the people see the letters - which is a luxury my clients were never afforded - they turn and run.” Referring to The Watcher, he said: "In an attempt to mitigate the damage, my clients have chosen to tear down the house, and this individual, who created this situation, can watch it come down.”

Early the next year, township officials rejected to raze the home. The following month, the home was rented out to a man who identified himself only as Chris. Since the home couldn’t sell, the Broaddus’s decided to rent it out. Chris said that he knew of the threatening letters but they never fazed him. Weeks after he moved in, the Broaddus’s received another letter from The Watcher. This letter allegedly contained specific threats and was "more derogatory and sinister than any of the previous letters”.

In 2017, 657 Boulevard was put back on the market, and John and Andrea Woods sought to have the lawsuit dismissed. In October, a judge dismissed the lawsuit, finally ending years of litigation. In dismissing the lawsuit, the judge found that there was no evidence that the Woods' had intentionally hidden the letter they had received shortly before the home sold.

In March 2019, the home was put on the market for $999k and it finally sold four months later. A local family moved in and have not reported any ominous letters, which in some ways raises more questions than it answers.

Stream Phrogging on Crime + Investigation Play