For most people, purchasing a home isn't just a big transaction. It's a milestone and an accomplished dream.
When Derek and Maria Broaddus laid eyes on the pretty Dutch Colonial with a manicured lawn built in 1905, they knew they had found the perfect place to raise their children in Westfield, New Jersey. After shelling out the asking price of $1.3 million in the summer of 2014, the Broaddus family was eager to start their lives in the large home on a peaceful street. But any realtor will tell you that things don't always go according to plan when it comes to buying and selling homes. There is the escrow process which can have its own tangles and issues, inspections, walkthroughs, negotiations and a whole smorgasbord of potential setbacks that can put a barrier between the dream home and the people anxious to start nesting in it.
However, what happened to the Broaddus' had nothing to do with an escrow nightmare. A mysterious and terrifying real-life nightmare descended on to the couple before the ink was dry on the purchase agreement. Between June 5, 2014 and July 18, 2014, instead of receiving a welcome basket or homemade cake from a friendly neighbor, Derek and Maria received three letters from someone who only went by “The Watcher.” This anonymous person stated that his grandfather was "The Watcher" of the house in the 1920s and his father was "The Watcher" in the 1960s and now it was his turn to become “The Watcher.” The letters intensified in terror and so did the mystery behind them and the person who wrote them.
15 "The Watcher's" Disturbing Excitement Over The New Homeowners
For anyone who has children or even nieces, nephews or godchildren, they will understand why Derek and Maria Broaddus took the disturbing letters they received so seriously. Some of the letters were directed towards their three young children and implied a threat to their lives.
"I am pleased to know your names now and the name of the young blood you have brought to me," one letter read. "Will the young bloods play in the basement?"
These ominous statements are a bit confusing although completely chilling. The letter references "the name of the young blood" as if "The Watcher" is singling out one child in particular. You would almost think that "The Watcher" wasn't watching closely enough and thought there was one Broaddus child instead of three but then the letter goes on to state, "Will the young bloods play in the basement?" Either this was just a typo or yet another horrifying way of letting "The Watcher's" malicious intentions toward the children be known.
14 Lightning Struck The Home In 1932
If you don’t believe in coincidences no matter how eerie, this might give you some chills. For those who are skeptical to believe that some buildings are haunted or carry curses, this may be a fact to tip the scales in favor of the unexplainable. In 1932, when the home was owned by William H. Davies who later became the mayor, lightning struck the home during a stormy night. Luckily, no one in the Davies household was injured by the freak occurrence but the home sustained structural damage to the roof. The likelihood of being struck by lightning is approximately one in three thousand.
The fact that the house was struck by lightning alone may not be astonishing but if you take into consideration all of the other strange happenings and horror stories connected to this home, you’ve got to admit that a creepy string of coincidences is the very least of what’s going on with this home.
13 The Family Who Bought The Home Never Got To Live There!
For all of the trouble that the Broaddus family went through with this home, it's hard to believe that the family never lived in the home for even a single day. Of course, Derek and Maria Broaddus and probably their children stepped into the home and spent some time there to plan the remodeling but according to the family, they never spent a night under the roof of the controversial Dutch Colonial. Because the Broadduses started to receive the letters from "The Watcher" before they moved in, they refused to live in the home because they said that the letters came from someone with a "mentally disturbed fixation" on the home and by association, those who inhabit the home. The family's next plan of action was to sue the town of Westfield because the town's planning board rejected their initial plan to raze the Dutch Colonial and subdivide the land. The Broaddus' planned to build two houses on the property's space.
12 "The Watcher" And His Communication With Previous Owners
"The Woods family turned it over to you, it was their time to move on and kindly sold it when I asked them to," "The Watcher," wrote in one of his letters. This sure sounds like "The Watcher" was on pleasant terms with John and Andrea Woods, doesn't it? Another sentence in the creepy letters states, "I asked the Woods to bring me young blood." Here, it seems as if the Woods were doing "The Watcher's" grisly bidding. But the Woodses claim that "The Watcher" is not threatening like the Broadduses say. The Woodses did admit that they received one letter but it was not taunting or intimidating and they really didn't pay much attention to it and just brushed the matter aside. They claim to have no idea that "The Watcher" would not just send any letters to the Broaddus family let alone cause so much trouble all around.
11 Meet The (Frightened) Family
Derek and Maria Broaddus, both forty-two now, along with their brood of young children thought that buying their dream home with six bedrooms and three and a half baths in a Westfield, a New Jersey suburb from well-respected scientists, John and Andrea Woods who were planning to retire to Massachusetts, would be the perfect new chapter for their life with a family of five. Derek, an insurance executive in Manhattan and Maria, a stay-at-home mother called the home "their dream" but dreams don't include strangers who send horrifying letters straight out of a nightmare. Having someone send terrifying notes claiming to watch over you and promising harm to come would be a chilling and nerve-wracking experience for anyone but Derek and Maria might have felt less emotional about the letters... if they didn't directly threaten to harm their children.
10 Hollywood Stepped In
Not to help the family who feared for their lives but to make a pretty penny, of course. Truth really is stranger than fiction and the mysterious story of "The Watcher" proves that is the case. Any time a news outlet was looking for an interesting story to run around 2014, they didn't have to look any further than Westfield, New Jersey to see what the latest developments were in the case of "The Watcher" house. Inevitably, Hollywood caught wind of this spooky tale and decided to dip their toes in the "The Watcher's" wading pool of terror by making a movie out of this real-life nightmare called, you guessed it, The Watcher. Very original, Hollywood.
They were, however, original enough to change some of the details. In the movie, the house is set in Los Angeles, not New Jersey, where a young couple named Emma (Erin Cahill) and Noah (Edi Gathegi) purchase the home after the previous tenant passed away. They soon begin to receive threading letters demanding that they leave the house immediately and horror ensues.
9 They (Tried) To Sue The Previous Owners, And Even "The Watcher" Himself
Accomplished scientists John (pictured) and Andrea Woods were looking forward to a peaceful retirement in Massachusetts along with their son, Tim (pictured) after they sold the Dutch Colonial that they had called home since 1990. They claimed to be shocked and surprised when they received a lawsuit from Derek and Maria Broaddus, claiming they purposely withheld their knowledge of "The Watcher" so that they could quickly close the sale of their home without losing anything off of the asking price. Derek and Maria also filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Title Insurance Company, and interestingly enough, another suit was filed against "The Watcher," though no one knows who he is or where to find him so serving him with notice of the suit was a tad bit impossible. The Woods couple decided to countersue the Broadduses claiming that they didn't know about "The Watcher", didn't feel selling the home to the new family was dangerous and furthermore, that the Broadduses' lawsuit against them had damaged both the reputations that the scientists had worked hard for.
8 The Family From The 50s Denied Existence Of "The Watcher"
Margaret Davis nèe Bakes saw two lovely decades pass before laying eyes in the Westfield Dutch Colonial. She grew up in the home from 1963 to 1988 and married soon after her parents sold the home. Davis was shocked when she learned about the “The Watcher” and the connection to her old childhood home through friends who had heard about the story in the media.
"It sounds so bizarre," Davis said. "We never had anything like this happen when we were there. We had a great time there. We were really all very close. We all hosted parties for each other. We had a bridal party for the girl across the street, and they hosted one for me. We had another bridal party for the girl next door. Westfield was a great town to grow up in, and it was the perfect home for us. I just feel lucky to have been there.”
Obviously, this goes against “The Watcher’s” claims that the men in his family have been watching – and we assume sending similar letters – the home for generations.
7 Exchanging Hands Through The Years
If these walls could talk... considering the fact that they were built in 1905, we bet they'd have a lot of juicy things to say. The first owner that we were able to find on record was Mayor William H. Davies who bought the home in 1932 for the whopping sum of one dollar. The story goes that he bought it from a family member and the dollar was simply needed for tax and deed purposes. In 1947, he sold the home to his daughter and son-in-law for a cool buck as a gift of affection. They sold the home to Dillard and Mary Bird for... wait for it.... one dollar. In 1953, Seth and Floy Bakes bought the home for - yep, you got it - one buckaroo. In 1955, they sold it to the Shaffers for... drumroll, please... four quarters! As far as we can tell, this is where the dollar tradition ended. It seems that these people were all friends and family. One theory is that a family member felt they got shortchanged on one of these transactions and started "The Watcher" as bitter payback for anyone who dared to hang their hat in the house.
6 Do The Police Know Something They're Not Telling?
For anyone who has followed this story, you will know that the standard issue statement from the Westfield Police regarding pretty much any aspect of the case can best be summarized by the non-committal, sanitized and let's face it, boring statement along the lines of, "We don't have any leads at this time but are investigating all aspects of this case."
In the defense of the Westfield PD, we have to say that it must have been one of the most baffling and bizarre cases they've ever seen and it's hard to say what else could have been done to track down the harassing letter writer aside from constant surveillance on the home.
But it is also easy to see how that would be little comfort to the Broadduses who continually asked the police for help with little action received. The family filed a lawsuit against the town of Westfield. "My clients are good people. They're caught in a situation they didn't ask for," said James Foerst, a representative for the family's attorney.
5 The New Owners Demand Three Times The Purchase Price Of $1.35 Million
To step into the Broaddus family's shoes for a moment, it is easy to feel the frustration. Imagine purchasing a dream home but never being able to live in it thanks to threatening letters from a stalker who promised to continue watching and indicated the worst was yet to come. Derek and Maria Broaddus filed a lawsuit against the previous owners of the home, John and Andrea Woods, in June of 2015 for "withholding the knowledge that their home was the focus of a stalker." The official documents from the lawsuit stated that Derek and Maria along with their three children had never moved into the home because the first of The Watcher's letters came three days after the Broaddus family bought the home. The new owners also claimed that they were unable to sell the home because of the letters and the reputation the home now had. The lawsuit demanded three times the price the Broadduses paid of $1.35 million because of the renovations the couple put into the house as well as their living accommodations since they didn't move into their home.
4 Creeper Connection: John List, Westfield's Other Bogeyman
If you've got a thing for shows like Unsolved Mysteries and are a true crime fan to any degree, chances are good that you've already heard of John List. He was the mild-mannered family man who, in 1971, shot his wife, three children and his mother who lived with the family in their Hillside Avenue mansion in Westfield, New Jersey. He zipped up his wife and children in Boy Scout sleeping bags before packing a suitcase, locking the front door and saying goodbye to his old life forever. List was eventually captured, thanks to an episode of America's Most Wanted, in 1990. He had been on the run for nineteen years and had a new wife. List passed away in 2008 and the mansion in Westfield has since burned to the ground but the creepy legend lives on in the New Jersey town and now has to make way for this new eerie bogeyman, "The Watcher."
3 Some Neighbors Thought The Whole Thing Was Silly And Denied The Existence Of "The Watcher"
While perhaps some local businesses in Westfield may have thrived since news broke about “The Watcher” with chill-seeking tourists hoping to spend some time in the area and take a photo or two in front of the now-famous Dutch Colonial home for their creepy collection, many if not all of the neighbors surrounding the home are not fans of the situation. They aren’t happy that their beautiful neighborhood has gained a macabre sort of notoriety and it’s easy to see that they aren’t very pleased with their would-be neighbors and how they have handled things.
“It’s a shame, houses are meant to be lived in,” one anonymous neighbor said to Daily Mail Online.
“There's no Watcher,” said another neighbor. “It's ridiculous. We've lived here for a long time. It's a great block and it's a beautiful house.”
2 Chilling Quotes
It's easy to see why Hollywood jumped on this story as soon as it hit the news. The quotes alone are spine-chilling. Some of the most terrifying quotes sent from "The Watcher" might be: "and now I watch and wait for the day when they (sp) young blood will be mine again", and "All the windows and door in (the house) allow me to watch you and track you as you move through the house."
A letter received June 18, 2014 by the Broaddus family contained references of what might be in the house. "Have they found what is in the walls yet? In time they will. I am pleased to know your names and the names now of the young blood you have brought to me," the letter reads.
"Who has the bedrooms facing the street? I'll know as soon as you move in." We can't blame the Broadduses for not wanting to hang around.
1 So, Who Lives There Now?
For a gorgeous Dutch Colonial located in a picture-perfect suburb with a low crime rate, the house seems like a dream. The six-bedroom, four-bathroom home is described as having several fireplaces throughout, wood floors with decorative inlay, coffered ceilings, leaded glass windows, a gourmet chef's kitchen, master suite, two porches, a finished basement, and security system. It's hard to imagine that a home with so many amenities to offer like this would have trouble finding people wanting to seek shelter in it. But maybe there just aren't that many souls brave enough (or foolish enough, some might say) to take on the risk of being at the wrath of "The Watcher." As of today, the home has been on and off the market and currently, a renter is living in the home. A very courageous renter, we can only assume.