Creepy and Unexplained: 657 Boulevard’s watcher

America Moreno, Creepy and Unexplained Writer

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Background

A couple with three children purchased their dream home in Westfield, New Jersey, in 2014. The $1.2 million home came with six bedrooms, three bathrooms and was located on 657 Boulevard, a few blocks from the wife’s childhood home. It was everything the Broaddus family wished upon, perhaps more. However, just three days after they closed, an anonymous letter arrived in their precious new home.

The Watcher

Before moving in, Derek and Maria Broaddus were doing some renovations to their house. One July night, Derek was finishing up painting when he checked the mail. As expected, there wasn’t much inside, except for a few bills and a white, card-shaped envelope that was addressed to “The New Owner” in thick, clumsy handwriting. The letter started off by giving off a welcoming vibe to the newly owners.

“Dearest new neighbor at 657 Boulevard, allow me to welcome you to the neighborhood.”

Once Derek continued reading the letter, it became eerily alarming.

“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 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.”

As if the letter had not seemed crazy enough, the writer proceeded to a more prowling omen. It continued by describing the family’s Honda minivan in the letter and pointing out the renovations that the couple had begun in the house. It mentioned that by doing so, they would make the house upset, warning them throughout.

“I see already that you have flooded 657 Boulevard with contractors so that you can destroy the house as it was supposed to be. Tsk, tsk, tsk… bad move. You don’t want to make 657 Boulevard unhappy.”

One day, Derek and Maria, along with their three children, ages 5, 8, and 10, had gone to the house where the couple chatted with the neighbors and the kids ran around the backyard, amongst other neighborhood children. The writer did not miss mentioning this in the letter.

“You have children. I have seen them. So far I think there are three that I have counted. 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 to me.”

The Broaddus’s were under the impression that the writer was someone who wanted to harm anybody that lived in 657 Boulevard due to having a connection with it. Being described as a silent guardian and potential harm for the family, the Broaddus’s wondered who the mysterious person was. Of course, the writer did not fail to fulfill the family’s curiosity.

“Who am I? 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.”

The writer finishes off the perplexing letter by signing it, in a cursive font, The Watcher.

Living in fear

Upon reading the letter, the couple became frightened about the whereabouts of the so-called “The Watcher.” Derek contacted police who then questioned him if he had any enemies that would have a cause to hurt him or his family, which he denied. They recommended safety precautions in order to prevent mischief from The Watcher for now.

Once returning to their old home back in Westfield, the couple decided to reach out to the previous owners that had sold them the house, John and Andrea Woods. They wrote an email, where they questioned if they knew the identity and motive of The Watcher. The Woods explained they had never received any letter like that in the 23 years of living in the house except once, a few days before moving out. They mentioned they had never felt watched in the more than two decades that they rarely felt the need to lock their doors. The Woods found the letter odd but threw it away without much concern.

Who am I? 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.”

— The Watcher

On the same day, the Wood’s accompanied Maria to the police station to report the letters. It is there were Detective Leonard Lugo advised her not to tell anyone about them, including her new neighbors, as they were now suspects.

A second letter was mailed where it described the Broaddus’s in more detail. The letter included the family name, although misspelled, their children’s birth order and nicknames, along with seeing the couple’s daughter painting in an enclosed porch space and asking them if she was the artist from the family. The Watcher became even stalkerish to the family, like the fact that the children’s nicknames were included, which seems more creepy than knowing their legal names. The letter then continued:

“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? 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.”

After this letter, the couple stopped bringing their children to the house and postponed their plans of moving in. After several weeks passed by, a third letter arrived.

“Where have you gone to? 657 Boulevard is missing you.”

In the spring of 2016, two years after the first letter arrived, The Broaddus family found someone to rent the home. The family had full grown children and two large dogs. They had a clause in the lease that let them out if there was another letter. After two weeks of living in the house, a letter arrived.

“To the vile and spiteful Derek and his wench of a wife Maria. Do 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. I walked by the news trucks when they took over my neighborhood and mocked me.

 I watched as you watched from the dark house in an attempt to find me … Telescopes and binoculars are wonderful inventions. 657 Boulevard survived your attempted assault and stood strong with its army of supporters barricading its gates. My soldiers of the Boulevard followed my orders to a T. They carried out their mission and saved the soul of 657 Boulevard with my orders. All hail The Watcher!!!

Maybe a car accident. Maybe a fire. Maybe something as simple as a mild illness that never seems to go away but makes you feel sick day after day after day after day after day. Maybe the mysterious death of a pet. Loved ones suddenly die. Planes and cars and bicycles crash. Bones break.

You are despised by the house… and The Watcher won.”

The renters decided to stay after more cameras were installed around the house.

As time passed, the investigation of The Watcher hampered. There was no digital trail, no fingerprints, and no way to place someone at the scene of the crime. However, The Broaddus’s hired an F.B.I. profiler, who was able to conclude the handwriting on the letter was likely an older person. When the letters were sent to the Westfield Police, DNA of a woman was found on one envelope but they failed to place a suspect.

The Broaddus family next move was to sue the Wood’s for failing to reveal the threatening letter they’d received. However, things didn’t turn out the way the Broaddus’s expected. The judge ruled there was little evidence to prove that the prior owners had any relation to The Watcher and rejected the case.

After their defeat, the couple decided to sell the house and get rid of it once and for all. Although, due to a local reporter, the story of the house became a sensational topic in the media. Now that The Watcher became a nationwide subject, the chances of finding a buyer decreased rapidly.

Unable to find one, the Broaddus’s considered selling the house to a developer who could tear it down and split the property into two homes. The Broaddus’s decided to make this appeal to the neighborhood planning board but it was rejected due to the two plots would each be less than three feet too small for the mandated size of the neighborhood.

Maria was ultimately upset by this, claiming that she felt betrayed by her hometown.

“This is my town, I grew up here. I came back, I chose to raise my kids here. You know what we’ve been through. You had the ability, two and a half years into a nightmare, to make it a little better. And you have decided that this house is more important than we are,” Maria stated.

Moreover, during the Christmas festivities, some families that vocally protested the Broaddus’s proposal received hand-delivered threatening letters signed “Friends of the Broaddus Family.”

The Broaddus family lived in desperation. Derek stated he was experiencing depression, Maria’s therapist said she was suffering from PTSD, and both were administered to levels of paranoia that made their daily lives seem threatening.

Past Owners

After the story of The Watcher became a news topic, previous owners of 657 Boulevard were baffled by the sudden allegations of the stalker. Matthew L. Bakes, whose parents owned the house for 40 years, stated that he had never heard of the attested figure growing up, adding that his family had never received any threatening letters. According to Mr. Bakes, who lived in the house throughout the 60s, the whole Broaddus lawsuit against The Woods shocked him.

“We never had any letters. We had a very good childhood. The house was my mother’s dream home. This has all caught me totally by surprise, it’s so arbitrary,” Bakes said.

Mr. Bakes, along with his sister, Margaret Bakes Davis, find the case very odd. Margaret even considers herself lucky to have lived in 657 Boulevard.

“Nothing like that happened when I was there. It just seems so bizarre,” Margaret said.

Suspects and Theories

First off, one night, around 11 p.m., a car stopped outside 657 Boulevard while two detectives from the Westfield Police were surveilling the house. The car was traced down to a young woman in a close by town. The home of the woman’s boyfriend was on the same block as 657 Boulevard. Once questioned, the woman informed the police that her boyfriend was into “some really dark video games.” In fact, based on an investigator’s memory, the boyfriend played a character called “The Watcher.” The boyfriend agreed to be questioned by the police but failed to show up for his interviews. The Westfield Police did not have enough evidence to make the boyfriend come down to the station, therefore, was never interrogated.

Secondly, Michael Langford, a neighbor of 657 Boulevard, was suspected to be The Watcher by Derek after attending a neighborhood barbecue shortly after the first letter had arrived. Langford lived in the house next door, which belonged to his 90-year-old mother. The Langford’s had lived in the house since the 60s, the era in which The Watcher claimed their father had guarded 657 Boulevard. Michael’s father had died about 12 years before the first letter arrived, which could lead back to the declaration of The Watcher to have done the job of watching for “the better part of two decades.”

Langford was known to scare new neighbors away based on his strange behavior, such as, walking through their yards and peeking through windows. Moreover, Michael would have had a perfect view of the easel the Broaddus’s had set on the porch for their daughter that was referenced in the second letter, due to the positioning of the houses. Langford was questioned by the police after the first letter arrived, but denied knowing anything towards the case. There was not enough evidence to name him The Watcher and people who knew him vouched for him for being incapable of writing the letters. However, Maria and Derek, along with the police, sent a letter to the Langford’s explaining they were planning on demolishing the house, out of hope of receiving a letter in response. There was none.

Looking back to the DNA of a woman that was found in one of the envelopes, the police suspected Michael’s sister, Abby, to be The Watcher. An investigator compared the DNA to that from a water bottle used by Abby, it was a no match. Without concrete proof against the Langford’s, the police ruled them out as suspects.

You are despised by the house… and The Watcher won.”

— The Watcher

The final suspect is the Broaddus family themselves. Residents found it suspicious that the Broaddus’s were able to move over the years to a $315,000 home, to a $777,000 home, to a $1.3 million home. Some accused the family of creating the so-called The Watcher out of a desperate tactic to get out of the financial responsibility of the home. Other mislead the idea of the Broaddus family continuing their renovations despite having no plans of moving in. Another theory is based off a big media deal for the Broaddus’s, once major movie studios contacted the family for the rights to their story. Additionally, the threatening letters that neighbors received after the planning boards rejected the Broaddus’s appeal turned out to be written by Derek. Derek claimed those were the only anonymous letters he’s ever sent and were done out of years of frustration.

Around the same time the Broaddus’s received the first letter, another house on the same Boulevard had received a note from The Watcher. Similar to the Wood’s, the family lived in the house for years and threw away the letter without much concern.

On the contrary, the mental toll taken place upon the Broaddus’s and a note being delivered to another house, made the couple become less likely to be the suspects. If the Broaddus family wanted an escape from the $1.3 million home or a breakthrough of a movie deal, why send a letter to another home?

Unsolved

To this day, The Watcher has not been identified. However, due to being a recent case, perhaps it is not the last we hear from the creepy figure. Until then, the case remains unsolved.