What is the real story of The Watcher series?

In 2014, a couple bought a house in Westfield, New Jersey. The two, who lived in New York, purchased the six-bedroom property shortly after the man turned 40, and were happy, ready to start a new phase of life.

But what seemed like a dream home for them and their three children soon turned into a nightmare.

The description above seems to be from a haunted house movie or series, but it is the real story that happened to the couple Derek and Maria Broaddus, in the United States. The case became the series “Welcome to the Neighborhood”, which premiered yesterday on Netflix and is signed by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, from “Dahmer: An American Cannibal”.

But what is the story of the Broaddus?

The couple, with their three children, bought a home in New Jersey in 2014, and soon began a major renovation.

Maria had grown up in the city, and Derek was from Maine, and became vice president of an insurance company in Manhattan—with enough salary to buy the house, for $1.3 million (approximately Rs. $6.9 million), according to The Cut website.

Three days after moving to the city and starting the renovation (meanwhile, they were staying in another house nearby), the family began to receive a series of threatening letters, signed by a person who called himself simply “The Watcher “.

Dear new neighbors at 657 Boulevard, let me welcome you to the neighborhood,” the first letter began. “657 Boulevard has been with my family for decades and, approaching its 110th birthday, I have been tasked with watching over it in its second decade. My grandfather watched over it in the 1920s, my father watched over it in the 1960s. Now it’s my turn. Do you know the history of the house? Do you know what’s on the walls? Why are you there? I will find out.

After receiving the first letter, the Broaddus contacted the previous owners of the house, who said they received a similar letter days before they left the residence.

However, they said it was the first time they had received such correspondence in the 23 years they lived there, so they didn’t pay much attention to the message.

royal letter - Personal Archive - Personal Archive

Letter sent by stalker to Broaddus family, portrayed in Netflix series The Watcher

Image: Personal Archive

In the weeks that followed, the new owners continued to receive increasingly threatening letters. The sender knew Derek and Maria’s names and details about their children, including birth dates and nicknames, what model of car the family owned, and who the contractors responsible for renovating the property were.

“Do you need to fill the house with the new blood I asked for?” he wrote, referring to the three children. “Better for me. Was your old house too small for the growing family? Or was it ambition to bring your children to me? As soon as I know their names, I’ll draw them to me.”

The new owners of the house contacted the police, who instructed them not to tell their neighbors about the letters, as they were all suspects. As they continued the renovation, they visited the place to monitor the renovations, and the “Watcher” showed that they continued to keep an eye on what was happening in the house – in addition to threatening the physical integrity of the couple and their children.

“The workers are busy and I see them unloading carts full of their personal effects. The trash can is a nice touch. Have they found what’s on the walls yet? In time, they will.”

What they did?

home - Reproduction - Reproduction

Actual image of house number 657 on Boulevard, in the city of Westfield, which was the target of a stalker and now becomes a series on Netflix

Image: Reproduction

As letters and threats continued, the couple decided not to move to 657 Boulevard once the renovations were complete. They tried to sell the house, and when they couldn’t, they rented it out. However, prospective tenants also began to receive the letters, and dropped out of the lease.

The repercussion made the case famous in the region, and it began to gain media attention. Bothered and fearful, the Broaddus even filed a lawsuit against the former owners, claiming that theses should have warned them about the letters before making the sale. Derek and Maria lost the lawsuit.


Bobby Cannavale in the Netflix series The Watcher


By late 2014, after many investigations by the police, private investigators, and even a former FBI agent, no one had found an answer to the stalker’s identity — or what was so mysterious about the walls other than old structures that needed cleaning. renovation.

The mayor of Westfield described the police’s work as “exhausting” and yet a culprit was never found and identified. The closest the authorities came to an answer was with the collection of DNA samples.

In 2015, police found saliva samples in the envelope of one of the letters, and a DNA analysis showed that it was the genetic material of a woman.

Some neighbors agreed to be tested to match the sample found in the letter, but there was no identification. The Cut reveals that one of the neighbors who denied taking the test was among the suspects, but the case was not pursued.

And where is the family?

Upon giving up the house, the Broaddus purchased another residence, and kept the address of the new location private.

Even so, getting rid of house #657 was difficult. Five years after purchasing the property, they managed to put the house back on the market, and sold it below the price they had paid in 2014. To date, no culprit has been identified.

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