New Jersey Family Who Bought Dream Home Terrorized By Stalker Known As ‘The Watcher’
“It’s like cancer. We think about it every day,” Derek Broaddus has said about the disturbing letters he and his wife Maria received.
A couple who believed they had discovered their dream home in New Jersey were shocked to find the property came with a creepy stalker who went by the alias “The Watcher.”
In 2014, Derek and Maria Broaddus spent over $1.35 million on the six-bedroom century-old house located at 657 Boulevard in Westfield. They planned to move in with their three young children, The Cut reported.
Days after closing the deal, the couple received a typewritten letter in the mail about the purchase. It began: “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,” the letter writer stated. “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.”
The letter then took a disturbing turn.
“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?” the person writing the letter asked before offering an alarming hint. “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,” concluded the typed letter that was signed “The Watcher” in cursive.
A second letter received just two weeks later included personal details about the family, such as their last name, the names of the couple’s children and observations about their comings and goings in a Mercedes and Honda minivan.
The letter read, in part: “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?” The Watcher continued. “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.”
A third letter that summer expressed disappointment the family hadn’t moved in yet. “Where have you gone to? 657 Boulevard is missing you,” The Watcher wrote.
The couple that sold the Broaddus family their home recalled receiving and throwing away a letter from The Watcher days before moving out, but they chalked it up as a one-time strange experience that was an aberration from the peaceful 23 years they lived in the house, according to The Cut.
The Broadduses, on the other hand, grew more and more disconcerted by the entire situation and frustrated with the Westfield Police Department, who they claimed weren’t taking their case seriously. Derek and Maria even hired a number of experts on their own dime, including a forensic linguist, a former NYPD officer, and a private investigator. None came any closer to solving the mystery.
The Union County Prosecutor’s Office eventually took over the case and launched a new investigation into The Watcher. Despite spending considerable time and resources on the case, the office also was unable to get much further figuring out the identity of the mysterious stalker. No usable fingerprints were found on the envelopes, but DNA testing on one did provide a tantalizing clue: whoever licked shut one of the envelopes turned out to be a woman. No match was found despite many neighbors volunteering samples of their DNA to investigators.
The Broadduses tried and failed several times through the years to sell the property they never moved into. Finally, in March 2019, they listed the home for $999,000 — nearly $400,000 less than what they paid for the home five years earlier — and a local family purchased it for $959,000.
As of October 2022, the new owners had not received any letters from The Watcher, according to The Cut.
“It’s like cancer,” Derek Broaddus told the publication of their yearslong ordeal with The Watcher. “We think about it every day.”
Some have speculated the Broadduses could have orchestrated The Watcher plot themselves, but Vince Gagliardi, who was responsible for investigating the case for the prosecutor’s office, told The Cut: “Maria was distraught every time I saw her. She was shaking.”
He added, ‘I can tell you this: If Maria Broaddus was faking, she should play herself in the movie.”
Derek and Maria have offered to pay for forensic genealogists to narrow down the list of suspects who could have written the letter sent in the envelope that contained DNA. The prosecutor’s office, however, has not officially closed the case and refuses to return the letters or provide the forensic evidence to the couple.
According to The Cut, the Broadduses continue to live in Westfield.