A Different Kind of Haunting

Imagine you’ve just bought a new home—a mansion, no less. Paid $1.3 million dollars for it. After you move in, you begin receiving letters from an anonymous someone. This person knows a lot about you, including the type of car you drive and the name of your children. This person also claims to be the anointed “watcher” of the house—an honor bestowed upon his or her family for ages. Maybe you shrug it off as a prank, or a neighborhood kid trying to scare you. But the letters keep coming—each one more horrifying than the last. And then you find out … it happened to the previous owners as well.

It sounds like a great thriller movie, right? Well, you just might see this exact story sometime soon on Netflix.

In 2014 when Derek and Maria Broaddus purchased the six-bedroom home at 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey from the Woods family, they thought they had their dream home. Forty-year-old Derek was a successful senior vice president of an insurance company, and along with his wife Maria and their three children, they moved all of their belongings into the house and began renovations, although they hadn’t started living there yet.

The first letter arrived in the mailbox when Derek was at the house alone, and it looked like nothing more than a “welcome to the neighborhood” card. But the words soon took on a different tone.

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.

The letter chastised the owners for doing renovations, as the writer suggested that the house was meant to be left in its original state. “I see already that you have flooded 657 Boulevard with contractors so that you can destroy the house as it was supposed to be.”
The letter went on to suggest that the house was excited for them 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 watcher expressed an anxious curiosity to know where the children would sleep for better planning purposes and said that he or she had asked the previous owners to make sure the family that moved in brought “young blood” and it seemed that “they [the Woodses] had listened.”

There was no return address, but the writer directed the Broadduses to consider the number of cars that drove by their house on any given day. The watcher could be in one of them—or, he or she could be one of the many walkers passing by on the street. The letter ended with, “Let the party begin,” and was signed “The Watcher.”

Derek called the police and then went to find his family at their old house. They contacted the Woods family to determine whether they had experienced anything like this. Mr. and Mrs. Wood admitted that they had received one letter before moving out, but never before in the 23 years they’d lived there.

A few weeks later, the Broadduses received a second letter detailing the children’s names and how often Maria Broaddus called out to them.

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.

The family stopped planning to move in, and the children weren’t allowed back in the house. A third letter arrived in which the watcher stated that he or she missed the family.

Six months later, the family decided to sell the house, and after many years of renting to tenants, they finally sold at a loss this past July.

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So what’s in the walls? And who is the watcher? According to DNA evidence collected off one of the envelopes, it’s possible the writer may have been female. But then again, the police admit the writer could have had a helper. To this day, it remains a mystery. The Watcher could have been anyone, as one of their final letters stated:

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.
To read a more detailed retelling of The Watcher House, check out the article in The Cut (the main source of this blog) or CNN.

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