Who is The Watcher and how was the case solved?

The Netflix series slightly differs from reality

the watcher netflix a black figure near the new jersey home
(Image credit: Eric Liebowitz/Netflix © 2022)

When Derek and Maria Broaddus closed on 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey, the couple thought they had found their dream home...but that couldn't be further from the truth. 

The true story behind The Watcher is prime material for a good scary movie, especially in the hands of Ryan Murphy. But those who are tuning in for the new Netflix hit, The Watcher, might not be aware of fact vs. fiction.

When the Broaddus clan began moving into their new abode in 2014, they immediately received a haunting, unsigned letter. Spooky, but not earth-shattering.

"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," the initial letter read, according to The Cut (opens in new tab)

It continued, "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 was just the beginning.

The family received more letters throughout their time in the house, each becoming more detailed and more menacing. Some addressed Derek and Maria, and their children, by name. Some asked for "young blood." Others promised they'd find the family, regardless if they stayed at 657 Boulevard or not. 

"Maybe a car accident. Maybe a fire. Maybe something as simple as a mild illness that never seems to go away but makes you fell sick day after day after day after day after day," one note said.

Who is The Watcher?

According to NJ.com (opens in new tab), the family conducted lawsuits, police investigations and DNA tests to figure out where these frightening anonymous notes were coming from. In the series, we're lead to believe a certain character is responsible for the harassment—no spoilers here, though! However, in real life, the case has gone unsolved to this day. 

Shortly after their move-in, the Broadduses took action against the stalker by installing cameras and getting professional help. In December 2014, per People (opens in new tab), the Westfield police insisted there were no other avenues to pursue, though DNA tests did seem to indicate that a woman was behind this. Six months after their move-in, they put the beautiful $1.3 million home up for sale. 

The family still resides in Westfield, according to reports, but they have done what they can to ensure their new location is not disclosed to the public, and understandably so. Their home ultimately sold for $959,000, a more generous amount than one would expect for a sprawling six-bedroom oasis. Once news of the home went viral, finding its next inhabitants wasn't so simple. According to The Cut, the house's new residents have not received any letters. 

Ready for your scary screen time? This new hit will deliver in spades...and make you think twice about fetching the mail.

The Watcher hits Netflix on October 13. Ryan Murphy's other new series, Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Storyis currently streaming on Netflix. For more scares, check out where your favorite Halloween movies are streaming this year. 

Danielle Valente

Danielle is a writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life, covering all-things news, lifestyle and entertainment. 

The heart of her time at Future has been devoted to My Imperfect Life, where she's been attuned to the cosmos, new TV shows and relationship trends.  

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids and a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, amNewYork and Newsday, among other outlets. 

When Danielle is not working, you can usually find her reading a book, coffee at hand, or attempting a new recipe. (Recommendations always welcome!)