Posted on: July 7, 2016

There can be a lot of unforeseen problems when you buy a new home, but having your own nearby stalker really shouldn’t be one of them.  But that’s what happened to the Broaddus family of New Jersey.

In June 2014 Derek and Maria Broaddus exchanged contracts on a very attractive 6-bedroom, 3-bathroom colonial house in Westfield, New Jersey, to house themselves and their 3 young children.  The purchase price was $1.35 million.  On appearance it looks like the absolutely perfect family home, spacious and peaceful.  It must have felt like the beginning of a wonderful new life.  Sadly it wasn’t to turn out that way.

Three days later the Mr and Mrs Broaddus received a letter signed “The Watcher”, which informed them that “my grandfather watched the house in the 1920s and my father watched it in the 1960s.  It is now my time”.  Over the next month, as the family had renovation work done to the property, a couple more letters arrived.  These were equally unsettling.  One wanted to know whose bedrooms would be facing the street, and added “I am pleased to know your names now and the names of the young blood you have brought me”.   Another, received in July 2014, read “have they found what’s in the walls yet?” “Will the young bloods play in the basement?”

My immediate reaction on seeing the contents of these letters is that it’s some weirdo who has been reading too many horror novels.  That’s not to make it any the less unsettling.  The family handed the letters to the police, who found a woman’s DNA on the envelope, but were unable to home in on a suspect.

The Broaddus family have never moved into the house, and are currently suing the previous owners, the Woods family, for not informing them of The Watcher.   The Broaddus’ claimed that the Woods had received a threatening letter from The Watcher only days before the contract was signed and sealed.   Another previous inhabitant, Mr Blakes, who spent his childhood in the house during the 1950s and 60s, said his family had never received any letters like that, and that the house was a dream place to grow up in.

The house was put back on the market in the spring of 2016, and has dropped in value to $1.2 million.  Some have speculated that the Broaddus family may simply have found themselves lumbered with a huge mortgage they couldn’t afford, and this was a way of getting out of it (am curiously reminded of the Amityville Horror here).   Other rumours abound that The Watcher is in fact the disturbed adult son of a couple living in the same street as the Broaddus’ house, and that no one wants to confront him for fear of retaliation.

Criminologists analysing the letters say that such a person would get a thrill out of frightening people this way, and that the writing style indicates someone with deep-rooted anger.  Joe Navarro, a former FBI profiler, told the Daily News that “I have what’s called a one-kilometer rule.  Most things happen within one-kilometer”. This may simply be someone who has got themselves in a state about the prospect of having new neighbours.  Another curious factor is The Watcher’s obsession with this particular house. If you look at old poison pen letter cases, the culprit tends to target many in their area, not just one dwelling-place.  As one criminologist put it, to be obsessed with this house, suggests The Watcher truly believes there is something odd about it, and is completely delusional.

I can only agree with someone who posted in a Daily Mail comments section (yes I know!): “this is weird … even for New Jersey”.



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