We all have some type of vision or dream of where we want to see ourselves. Whether it’s being married, travelling the world alone, or homeownership and a family, you already know what your heart desires. But what if you accomplished your dream and it maliciously was taken away from you… This is seemingly what has happened to the Broadus Family…
Maria Broadus grew up in Westfield, New Jersey and wanted to raise her family in the same area. Her husband Derek worked diligently within his career and was promoted to Senior Vice President within the insurance company he worked for in Manhattan. The couple finally achieved their goal of raising their children in a neighborhood near where Maria had grown up.
They bought their 1.3 million dollar home at 657 Boulevard. A six bedroom home in a quiet neighborhood with hopes of a quiet life. The couple’s three children were extremely excited and were determining which of the many fireplaces Santa would come through at Christmas. Over the first week or so, the family visited the new home and would chat with neighbors. During this time their very excited children, ages, 10, 8, and 5 happily played in their new backyard with a few other children from the neighborhood.
The Broadus family did not officially move into the home right away. Derek repainted some of the rooms in the home prior to the arrival of the rest of the family. On this warm June day in 2014, Derek finished painting and went to check the mail. Flipping through the various pieces of mail he found an envelope that was addressed to the ‘New Owner’. Inside, a letter read :
“Dearest new neighbor at 657 Boulevard,
Allow me to welcome you to the neighborhood. 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”
This letter also discussed the family’s minivan which could be seen in the driveway. The letter also went on to say :
“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.”
This letter also referenced their three children.
“You have children. I have seen them. So far I think there are three that I have counted. Are there more on the way? Do you need to fill the house with 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.
Who am I? Hundreds of cars pass by the house every single day. Maybe I am in one. Check all of the windows that can be seen from 657 Boulevard. Perhaps I am in one.”
The letter closed with the following :
“Welcome my friends, welcome. Let the party begin, The Watcher.”
The envelope had no return address, nor any other clues as to who sent it. After reading the letter Derek realized he was alone in the home and it was now dark. He quickly switched off any lights so he couldn’t be seen from outside and he called the police. An officer did respond to the call. Arriving at the home, he was given the letter and the officer was a bit shocked. He suggested that Derek remove items from outdoors that could allow for entry into the home. Derek moved equipment that was used during the remodel of the home and then he left to his previous home where his family was still residing.
Derek and Maria were extremely frightened and a bit angry. They immediately emailed the previous owners John and Andrea Woods. The Woods owned 657 Boulevard for 23 years prior to the Broadus moving in. The Woods stated that they had never had an issue regarding letters until right before the transfer of ownership. The Woods claim they received a letter very similar and thought it was a joke, so they threw it away.
The two families agreed to go to local police. Police asked both parties to keep the contents of the letters as private as they could and not to mention anything to any neighbors. The Broaddus family were all on edge at this point. Not allowing their children out of their sight for even a second. Derek had cancelled a work trip and Maria kept the children with her at all times, when possible.. The couple did continue to be sociable with their neighbors.
In fact, at one of the neighbors gatherings, a neighborhood wife mentioned that having the new, ‘young blood’ in the neighborhood would be welcomed. The words ‘Young Blood’ made Derek and Maria Broaddus extremely uncomfortable.
During the renovations a contractor noticed a sign he had placed on the property had been removed. Aside from this minor incident things were quiet and calm for about two weeks.
Then Maria stopped by the house to view some paint samples, while at the house, she checked the mail and found another letter from the watcher.
This envelope was slightly different from the last as the watcher had addressed it with the couples actual name, but misspelled. This led the couple to believe someone was eavesdropping. Close enough to hear their name, but not sure how to spell it. This letter mentioned the workers that were on the property for the renovations, even complimenting them on their use of the dumpster on the property. This led the Broaddus family to wonder if the watcher was posing as a worker on the property?
Within this letter, the watcher now knew all of the children’s ages and names and had inquired about one of the children painting with an easel on the back porch. This second letter read :
“657 Boulevard is anxious for you 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.
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.
All of the windows and doors in 657 Boulevard allow me to watch you and track you as you move through the house. Who am I? I am the Watcher and have been in control of 657 Boulevard for the better part of two decades now. The Woods family turned it over to you. It was their time to move on and kindly sold it when I asked them to.
I pass by many times a day. 657 Boulevard is my job, my life, my obsession. And now you are too Broaddus 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.
Have a happy moving in day. You know I will be watching.
After receiving this second letter, the family still had not moved into the home. Though, their neighbors still tried to include them in social events. Another house on the block was sold and the new occupants along with the Broaddus family were invited to a BBQ at a home directly across the street from their property.
The couple couldn’t help but watch the crowd and examine each attendee. Derek struck up a conversation with John Schmidt. He lived one home away from the Broaddus family. The home that separated Schmidt from the Broaddus family was owned by Peggy Langford. Peggy was 90 years old and lived with some of her children who were in their 60s by this time.
John Schmidt described Peggy’s adult children to Derek. The Langford family was described as a bit eccentric, but harmless. The youngest child of Peggy Langord, was unemployed. Michael, had a very thick beard and alongside his mother had lived in the home since the 1960s.
Remembering the letters, Derek became suspicious and went to the detective working on the case. Detective Lugo informed Derek that he was also suspicious and had brought Michael in for questioning after the first letter was received. Of course, the detective could not pursue this lead without any evidence so he had to let Michael go as he stated he had no knowledge of the situation or the letters.
The previous owner Andrea Woods, had a theory that it was an actual close neighbor as the letters discussed the contractors and the children. An immediate neighbor would have the ability to see and hear the activities of the contractors and the children.
The letters were also postmarked from a nearby U.S. Postal Service distribution center, leading them to believe the watcher was very close by. Reviewing the letters they noticed that the first letter had been postmarked on June 4th. This would be before the house actually went on the market.
When the house was on the market, the Woods family chose not to post a sale sign on the property. Contractors began their work prior to the first letter being sent, but the two families had told no one that the work had already begun on the property.
When Detective Lugo, who was working this case, visited the property after the second letter, he took some time to look at the easel that the watcher asked about. The detective noted that it could not have been seen from the front of the home, only the back or the side. This further led everyone to believe… it had to be a neighbor.
The Broaddus family made a decision to not bring the children to the house anymore and indefinitely postponed a move in date. The postponement of their move in date further pushed the watcher to write a third letter.
“657 Boulevard is turning on me. It is coming after me. I don’t understand why. What spell did you cast on it?
It used to be my friend and now it is my enemy. I am in charge of 657 Boulevard. It is not in charge of me. I will fend off its bad things and wait for it to become good again. It will not punish me. I will rise again. I will be patient and wait for this to pass and for you to bring the young blood back to me. 657 Boulevard needs young blood. It needs you. Come back. Let the young blood play again like I once did. Let the young blood sleep in 657 Boulevard. Stop changing it and let it alone.
The plea to stop renovating the house wasn’t shocking. The home was originally built in 1905 and most would say it
was by far the most grand home on the block. The Woods family originally purchased it in 1990 and ultimately sold it in 2014. There were many offers during the time the Woods sold the home. It was always a thought that maybe one of the other buyers held a grudge?
Frustrated and fearful of losing their investment in their dream home, the Broaddus family launched their own private investigation. The couple placed cameras around the house and often Derek would stake out the property at night. Though ultimately, they turned to experts, bringing in Private investigators. One P. I. ran background checks on the neighbors, the Langfords. Nothing was found.
Finally, Derek reached out to former FBI Agent, Robert Lenehan. Lenehan assisted the couple by providing them a possible profile of the sender of the letters. It was noted that the letter writer was intelligent and never used vulgar language. Lenehan also stated, the author of the letters was unlikely to follow through on any threats. Lenehan also believed that the author of these letters was former housekeepers or help or their children.
Police bring Michael Langford in for more questioning and he denies any involvement. Though this time the Langford family has become quite irritated and feels harassed, this now becomes newsworthy.
Derek hired Lee Levitt, a lawyer to help meet with the Langfords as they were the prime suspects at this time. Though nothing was found to prove any wrongdoings.
Police also began poking around the neighborhood. They found two registered sex offenders and a curious household not far from 657 Boulevard. This household kept their lawn chairs facing the Broaddus’ garden. They actually faced the garden directly. While this was odd, there was no evidence of any wrongdoing.
With no fingerprints or solid evidence pointing to any one the police had to end their investigation.
The house had been renovated and an alarm system had been installed. The Broaddus family still didn’t feel secure, so Derek began looking for a home security guard, particularly with military experience, he also looked at trained German Shepherds. While trying desperately to protect his family, they also realized this took away the calm environment they were seeking.
Still resistant to moving fully into the home, they sold their prior home and finally moved in with Maria’s parents. Financially they were struggling a bit as they still had a mortgage to pay at 657.
Both Maria and Derek were physically struggling at this point. Derek couldn’t sleep at night, Maria began seeing a therapist. The couple decided at this point, it was best to simply sell the house.
Six months after purchasing their dream home, they placed it back on the market, listing for a much higher price than what they purchased it for, in hopes of recouping their costs. Though with all the media coverage it had attracted it became difficult to sell. Lowering the price several times still didn’t assist in selling 657 Boulevard.
After some time, the Broaddus’ decided to sue the previous owners, the Woods for non disclosure of the letter they received. The situation continued to grow larger, from lawsuits to media vans parked out front, neither Derek nor Maria spoke publicly of the situation.
At one point, the envelopes the letters were sent in were DNA tested. Shockingly, the results came back pointing to a female. This caused authorities to circle back to the Langford family. Abby Langford particularly, was a real estate agent. Was she harboring anger for not receiving the sale of 657 Boulevard?
Unfortunately, Abby’s DNA was not a match for the envelopes. This finally allowed the authorities to remove the Langfords from their suspect list.
Westfield Police department decided to relaunch a new investigation. First, they asked Andrea Woods, the prior owner to provide a DNA sample and they also questioned her 21 year old son.
During this new investigation, it was noticed that another home on the block also received a letter from the watcher around the time the Broaddus’ received their first. This family threw the letter away, believing it to be a prank. One of the adult children from this household mentioned the letter on Facebook, confirming that the letter was very similar to the one the Broaddus family received.
With this new information, detectives decided they would stake out the street. They waited and watched and around 11pm, they noticed a car park extremely close to their van. They traced the vehicle to a woman who lived in a neighboring town and had a boyfriend that lived on the same block as 657. Upon questioning the young woman, she recalled that her boyfriend had an interest in dark themed video games, one particular game was called, ‘The Watcher’.
The boyfriend refused to come in for an interview at the police station. Detectives couldn’t force him to talk with hearsay. After a lengthy investigation and no further leads, the investigation was closed.
By February of 2015, the Broaddus family began the process of selling their home. Due to the media coverage of the letters, the sale of the home was unsuccessful. This led the couple to strike a deal with the local planning commission, to divide the property into two sections and sell each to developers. This request was denied.
Paying a mortgage while seeking housing elsewhere became difficult, so to offset this cost, the home was rented. During this time, a fourth letter from the Watcher came. It read :
“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!!!
Within this letter, the Watcher also hinted at a bit of revenge. As if payback was sought due to the families actions.
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.
This last letter arrived in 2017. There have been no other letters since. 657 Boulevard did sell in early July 2019. Though the family received nowhere near the 1.3 million they paid for it. The home sold for an estimated $959,000.
There are many who believe the Broaddus family and others who believe the Broaddus family created the whole thing as a hoax. To this day, there are no solid leads as to who the Watcher is.
I guess we just leave this to the Realms of the Unexplained…